These law schools crushed the job market in 2021

A graduating student from Columbia University stands on campus in New York. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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  • New ABA data shows which law schools had the highest percentage of recent grads land full-time legal jobs
  • So-called T-14 schools made up half of the top 20
  • Some lower-cost public schools also made the list

(Reuters) – Nearly 96% of Columbia Law School’s 2021 juris doctors landed permanent, full-time jobs that require passing the bar—the highest among all 196 American Bar Association-accredited law schools in a new ABA report.

Hot on Columbia’s heels was the University of Chicago Law School and Duke Law School, which both sent nearly 94% of last year’s graduates into such positions — widely considered the gold standard for newly minted JDs.

The ABA on Monday released a trove of data on the Class of 2021’s employment outcomes that shows entry legal hiring more than bounced back after a decline in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 76% of last year’s new juris doctors found jobs that require bar passage within 10 months of leaving campus — up from 72% among the class of 2020.

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Reuters analyzed the ABA’s numbers to determine which law schools’ grads fared the best on the entry level job market. Ten of the so-called T-14 schools, ranked in the top 14 by U.S. News & World Report, were among the 20 schools with the highest percentage of 2021 graduates in permanent, full-time jobs that require bar passage. But a number of lower-cost public law schools also made the top 20.

The University of Georgia School of Law, ranked No. 29 by U.S. News, had the 5th highest percentage of recent grads in full-time law jobs, at nearly 93%. Texas Tech University School of Law reported that more than 89% of its 2021 grads landed such jobs within 10 months. And 63 of the 71 new JDs from the University of Montana Alexander Blewett III School of Law secured bar passage-required jobs, which works out to nearly 89%.

Tony Waller, assistant dean for career services at the University of Georgia’s law school, said 2021 was a particularly strong employment year due in part to an uptick in graduates finding jobs at firms of 251 or more lawyers.

A bolstered bar prep program and comprehensive mentoring in which every student was paired with a peer, an alum, a career counselor and a faculty member also helped, Waller added.

“It’s a culmination of things,” Waller said of the school’s job placement success. “We feel like we did really well this year in having practice-ready graduates and incredible alumni connections and support.”

Read more:

Law school grads found more jobs waiting in 2021 after decline

Employment dips for 2020 law school grads, ABA says

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