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University of Maryland Law School Students line up outside of the Hippodrome for their graduation ceremony. (File photo)

State’s law grads still face long odds

Traditional hiring down from last year, trails U.S.

A little more than half of Maryland’s 2013 law graduates found jobs that require them to be lawyers, according to new figures from the American Bar Association.

The overall total, 52 percent, is well below the national average of 62.2 percent. And, while the numbers varied at the state’s two law schools, they both fell below last year’s total.

At the University of Baltimore School of Law, 47 percent of last May’s graduates found jobs requiring bar passage. That was down from 55 percent a year earlier.

At the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, 58 percent found jobs requiring bar passage. That’s down from 63 percent the previous year, but still up significantly from 47 percent in the 2011 class.

“One thing about UM Carey Law is a lot of students come here with the intention of not practicing law,” said Susan L. Krinsky, associate dean for students and student services at the law school. “We start out in a situation where we are not going to have a high number for bar passage required. … I think it would be better to have a higher number there, but we are probably never going to.”

Law school graduate employmentOn the bright side, both schools did better than the national average when it came to jobs for which having a law degree is an advantage, such as positions in government.

About 18.5 percent of students at UM Carey and 30.5 percent of UB Law students fell into that category, compared to 13.6 percent nationally.

Adam Kroll, 26, graduated from UM Carey last spring and has a job clerking for Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Melissa M. Phinn, but he just started this month.

“I got lucky,” Kroll said. “I would have still been applying all over the place. The job market is pretty rough right now. There are too many new attorneys.”

Kroll, who wants to work in criminal defense, had been working part-time for a criminal defense solo attorney on a stipend. He had applied to many clerkships without success when Phinn contacted him in November about a position that had unexpectedly opened up in the spring.

“For people just out of law school, I don’t think [the job market] is good,” Kroll said. “I know quite a few people who have clerkships. Outside of that, there are only so many jobs available.”

Both law schools saw total employment numbers dip slightly.

UM Carey saw 89 percent of its 2013 class find jobs of any kind, a fall from 91 percent the year before. At UB Law, about 84 percent found jobs, down from 86 percent.

“That dip is not meaningful,” said UB Law Dean Ron Weich. “We want all students to succeed. That is what we strive for. These are solid numbers compared to other schools in this market.”

UB Law is decreasing its class size and hopes changes in its curriculum, expanded externships and clinics and hiring new faculty members will give its employment numbers a bump in the future, Weich said.

Krinsky said UM Carey plans to expand its relationships with corporations to develop in-house counsel fellowship positions to help its hiring numbers.

“I think the other thing is really working with students,” Krinsky said. “We have done this all along and are continuing to do it. Students need to be engaged, start making contacts, figuring out what they want to do. If they change their mind, they should stay engaged with us so we can help you adjust your jobs search to get to where you want.”

The ABA collected the data in February this year, as it has since 2011. The ABA also changed the way it categorized the data for the time in 2011, dividing the numbers into types of jobs they found, such as whether bar passage was required and if the job was full-time, part-time or short term.

With the change two years ago, the ABA also added a category for law schools hiring their own graduates. In 2013, UM Carey hired 19 of its students, a dip from the 25 it hired last year. UB Law hired 5 from its 2013 graduating class, the same number it hired the previous year.

Destinations

Clerkships were a strong job draw for both law schools.

At UM Carey, 55 students found jobs as federal or state clerks, tied for the largest employer group along with business and industry. The next largest groups at UM Carey went to law firms with two to 10 lawyers and government, both 31.

Law firms with two to 10 lawyers were the biggest draw for UB Law students, with 65 students finding positions at those firms. Forty-seven went to clerkships, followed by government jobs, 45, and business and industry, 35.

“We are holding steady in a very tough job market,” Weich said. “The profession is changing dramatically every day, and we think our students are keeping up with trends and are graduating with the skills to get jobs in this marketplace.”