MORGANTOWN – Last year was a very good year for graduates from the West Virginia University's College of Law.
According to a press release, the students who graduated in 2016 have an employment rate of 76.5 percent for full-time, long-term jobs that are Bar Passage Required or J.D. Advantage, which is the "gold standard for law school graduates.” That is nearly four points higher than the national average of 72.6 percent.
That news coincides with recent data released by the American Bar Association of 204 law schools, which says the WVU Law Class of 2016 is employed at rates higher than the national average.
"A law degree from WVU definitely has value,” said Gregory W. Bowman, dean of the College of Law, in the press release. “It’s a competitive job market and we work hard to prepare our students for careers in the law. Employers like what they see in our graduates.”
The WVU press release notes that the employment rate for WVU Law’s 2016 class is 81.7 percent, a bit higher than the national average of 78.6 percent.
The class also beat the national employment rate in two job categories.
"Of those graduates reporting, 20 percent have positions in business and industry, versus 13.5 percent nationally, and 8 percent practice public interest law, versus 4.4 percent nationally,” the school writes.
The class hovers around the national average for employment in private practice at 46 percent versus 45.5 percent, while judicial clerkships are at 9 percent versus 8.9 percent nationally. The percentage of those choosing a career in education is about 2 percent versus 1.6 percent nationally.
On the other hand, WVU 2016 law graduates work in government at a slightly lower rate than the national average at 9 percent versus 12 percent.
Bowman says the school can attribute its success in part because of the students themselves.
“We do a very good job of recruiting quality students,” Bowman told The West Virginia Record. “We then mentor and work with them individually to carve their own career paths.”
One distinction that sets WVU law students apart has little to do with test scores, Bowman says.
“We do a holistic analysis of each student,” he said. “Students are not just a number or a G.P.A. Every student that we select for admission is somebody in whom we see a great deal of promise. We recruit and attract a class of students who show a lot of promise and then we put a lot of time and effort into mentoring them.
“By and large, when you tell people what you expect, you get it, so we have very successful students with very successful careers,” he added, noting that the students are provided a collegiate experience that promotes support of one another rather than competition.
“That invariably helps their learning, which invariably leads to their success, which leads to greater and better jobs,” he said.