MORGANTOWN – Students at the West Virginia University School of Law were
largely successful in finding employment after graduation in 2015, and
they've topped the national average, according to figures from the American Bar Association.
Eighty percent of the Class of 2015 obtained full-time,
long-term employment. College of Law Dean Greg Bowman told The West Virginia Record that this is in
part due to the relationships the college develops with employers, as well as
the school's careful admission of, and one-on-one work with, students.
"We have very strong
relationships with employers. If you do not have a trusting relationship with the
employers you're sending your students to, you're not going to get them
hired," Bowman said. "We know these students individually. We've
recruited them one at a time. We have done a good job of admitting students who
are strong students, and of training them with practice-ready skills."
According to the American Bar
Association's employment statistics for the Class of 2015, the national
employment rate for positions that require an individual to pass the bar or
have a juris doctor degree is 70 percent.
At WVU College of Law, that figure is
10 percentage points higher. That same group also beat the national hiring rate for
private practice by nearly 10 points, and obtained judicial clerkships at more than
twice the national average.
While the school has been
successful in getting large numbers of students hired at law firms, there are
challenges, Bowman said.
"The modern legal job market
is really fractured. There are all kinds of jobs in small and medium
firms," Bowman said. "Finding students jobs is a lot harder than it
used to be. It's not just about finding a job, it's about launching a
The school's hiring rate in certain
areas of the legal system were lower than the national average. For example,
the hiring rate in public interest law was 2.7 percent, compared to the
national average of 4.7 percent.
The WVU School of Law graduated about 140 students in 2015, and funding for some legal positions makes a difference in rates, Bowman said.
"Remember, our student body is quite
small. One or two students making different choices each year can make a big
difference," Bowman said. "Also, the funding may not be there. If
funding is not available at legal aid, we're not going to be able to place
students (in public interest law)."
While the school is proud of
the hiring rates for the Class of 2015, there are continuing efforts to improve.
"We will continue to reach out
to the small and medium-sized firms," Bowman said. "Employment at
small firms is very much who you know. We are working hard to develop those
The college is also working to
maintain or create relationships with law firms in the Washington, D.C., and
very interested in going to these areas," Bowman said. "There may be
more opportunities for employment in-state as well."