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Letter to the Editor: At UB Law, students get ‘great head start’

In “An open letter to UB Law,” Generation J.D. blogger Alicia Gipe wrote about preparing law students to enter the job market. The dean of the University of Baltimore School of Law has submitted this response: 

Dear Alicia,

Thank you for your open letter to the University of Baltimore School of Law, published at TheDailyRecord.com on Dec. 30. I’m delighted you had such a positive experience at UB and that you were impressed by your professors and the supportive learning environment at our school.

The concerns you expressed in your letter about the current job market for new lawyers are very valid. The legal profession is changing in dramatic ways, and lucrative employment for recent law school graduates is no longer the sure thing it once was. At UB, we feel a keen responsibility to prepare students for this brave, new world by focusing on the skills and judgment young lawyers need to succeed today and by offering hands-on legal experience throughout law school.

Practical legal experience has been at the heart of a University of Baltimore School of Law education since the institution was founded as a night school in 1925. While students receive a rigorous grounding in the theory of law, they also learn the nuts and bolts of lawyering from highly skilled professors and seasoned attorneys. Students gain tangible experience through the school’s 10 clinics, 21 moot court teams and various experiential courses. Just last year, we updated the curriculum to ensure that all UB students will engage in actual or simulated law practice before they graduate.

Real-world legal experience begins the summer after the first year of school, when all UB School of Law students are guaranteed the opportunity to work with legal employers through the school’s pioneering Experience in Legal Organizations (EXPLOR) program. Meanwhile, sitting judges and practicing lawyers from across this region participate in the education of our students as teachers, mentors, trial team coaches and eventually as employers.

Because of our focus on practical excellence, UB graduates have a well-deserved reputation for getting the job done. And because of that perception throughout the legal community, UB graduates are more successful in this tough job market than are graduates from many other schools. While 51.5 percent of our 2013 graduates were employed in bar-required jobs nine months after graduation, an additional 27 percent of graduates landed “J.D. advantage” jobs — positions for which bar passage is not required but for which a J.D. degree provides a distinct advantage. That means almost eight out of every 10 UB graduates landed good jobs less than a year out of school, slightly better than the national average.

These “J.D. advantage” jobs do not include working as Starbucks baristas. They are challenging, well-compensated positions in corporations, government agencies, nonprofit organizations and other professional settings. While UB is known for producing top-notch litigators, we are just as proud of our graduates who contribute to society in other ways. A UB School of Law education inculcates problem-solving skills that help graduates forge a wide range of exciting career paths.

Those who want to practice law get a great head start at UB. Our law school ranks among the top schools nationwide for the number of graduates hired as judicial clerks. More than 18 percent of employed 2013 graduates secured these coveted positions — twice the national average. It’s no surprise to me that so many UB School of Law alumni end up as judges, state legislators and state’s attorneys and in other positions of civic leadership.

At the end of your letter, you express optimism that the UB School of Law will continue to rise above the crowd and be a pioneer in order to maximize each graduate’s potential for success. I promise you we will meet that challenge and continue to make you proud to be an alumna of our very special school.

Sincerely,

Ronald Weich

Dean, University of Baltimore School of Law

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