« on: May 12, 2007, 08:59:25 PM »
Hi everyone Ė Now that classes are over and the writing competition/my summer job havenít started, I thought Iíd give everyone a breakdown of the employment stats the career center provides, which are more accurate and comprehensive than the US News data. I hope it will help potential VLS students gauge their employment prospects upon graduation, so you can determine if Villanova is the right school for you. The overview is based upon survey data from the classes of 2005 and 2004 at nine months after graduation. The 2005 data is more comprehensive and detailed, but the 2004 data gives absolute numbers instead of percentages, so it can help to fill in the gaps. Iíll primarily rely on the 2005 data, however. Sorry Ė I donít have access to scanner, so I can give you the raw numbers.
Accuracy: For the 2005 survey, only one graduate failed to report his employment status. For the 2004 survey, everybody reported. I know that some schools report high salaries and the like with only a partial representation of their graduating class; this is not the case here. As for the career center Ė They seem to be pretty straightforward. They never promised to help us get a job and let us know that while they can point us in the right direction and help us sell ourselves, the ultimate responsibility for employment resides with us. I therefore believe theyíre being pretty honest with the numbers. That said, Iíll try to point out any areas where there looks like there may be some chicanery.
Overall Employment: According to the 2005 data, 96% of grads who wanted jobs had jobs (or were in some sort of grad program) at nine months out. According to the numbers from 2004, 3 people werenít seeking employment, 11 were in graduate programs, and 6 were unemployed and looking for employment. None of these numbers should be too disturbing Ė The three people not looking for employment probably were recently married grads who might have been starting a family or something. The 11 grad students isnít surprising since VLS has a joint JD/PhD program in psychology, a joint JD/MBA program, and a joint JD/LLM in taxation Ė in fact, Iím surprised the number is only 11. As for the 6 who are (were) unemployed, they probably didnít pass the bar.
Time Table for Employment: Obviously, the high employment rate a nine months doesnít necessarily mean anything. After all, a number of people could just be grabbing any crummy job so they donít default on their loans. However, the numbers look pretty promising that this is not the case. About 2/3rds (63%) had jobs by graduation. Twenty-six percent had job after graduation but before they received their bar results, and the remaining 11% received their jobs after receiving the bar results.
I think these percentages are based upon the 96% of grads who are employed overall, and they might lump in all of the grad students with the people who are ďemployed at graduationĒ. Nonetheless, assuming that the timetable for employment reflects class rank, it looks like if youíre in the top half of the class (or even a bit lower), youíre going to have an offer in hand (or graduate options) when you walk the stage at commencement. Even more encouraging is if youíre pretty much in the top 90%, youíll be employed before your employer even knows if youíll pass the bar (though I assume if you donít, youíd lose the position). Since you receive your bar results before Sallie Mae comes knocking at the end of the six month grace period, most of these jobs are probably not taken out of desperation. As for the rest, an optimist would say that theyíre just people who were holding out for better jobs, a pessimist would say they rue the day they went to law school. Without more data, I canít tell you, but Iíd assume most of these folks probably had trouble passing the bar the first time around. Bottom line: Pass the bar, and you should be fine. (VLS has an 83% first time bar passage rate.)
Types of Jobs: Sixty percent work for firms, 9% went into government and public interest work, 16% accepted judicial clerkships, and 13% worked outside of law for a business.
The firm work percentage is kind of low, but the percentage in clerkships is high for schools in the second tier (or so Iíve been told). Iím not sure how many of those clerkships are with federal courts and how many are with local traffic courts, but I do know that at least some (based upon school events and people with whom Iíve spoken) are actually pretty top notch jobs with the 3rd circuit and PA federal district courts. A number of people with such clerkships also have firm jobs lined up once they complete their clerkships. As for the business category, itís also hard to tell since both working as a financial analyst for KPMG and working the soft serve machine at your hometown Dairy Queen would fall under this classification. Nonetheless, because it looks like only 11% of the class (at most) are taking jobs of desperation and some of those jobs are probably doc review or bureaucratic government work, Iím sure at least some of these jobs are actually legitimate career oriented positions.
Because government jobs, clerkships, and non-law business jobs vary so much, no salary information is given. However, government and clerkship salaries tend to be pretty standard (and low) regardless of where you went to school. According to the 2004 data, only one person went into PI work Ė They now have a PI scholars program that gives free rides to qualified PI students, so that should change.
Iíll provide a further breakdown of firm statistics and salaries in a bit.
Geography: About 2/3rds stay in PA. There are graduates employed in every state (and DC) from Massachusetts to Florida with the exception of RI and SC. Not surprisingly, the most common destinations outside of PA are NJ, DE, NY and MA. Iíve heard that the DC area attracts a good chunk of the rest. A decent number of people are from CA and return there after graduation. Besides that, VLS isnít too well represented across the rest of the country. I do know a graduating 3L who is headed to work for a firm in Chicago.
Firms: Thereís too much detail in this section for me to write everything down, so Iíll be more general. If youíd like some more information, let me know. Anyway, about 40% (of the 60% who take private firm jobs) go into small law 1-25 attorneys, 40% go into big law 100+ attorneys while the rest are in medium law Ė somewhere in between. Those at the smallest firms make an average of $50k and those at the slightly larger firms make in the 60ís. Medium law is 70ís to 80ís and big law is 90ís on up to the low-mid six figures. They didnít have standard deviations, but if say, those at the smallest firms have an average in the 50ís but a bunch of people are making in the 30ís, then that number would have to be offset by those making in the 60ís or 70ís, which isnít realistic for really small firm work. Therefore, I think the averages are pretty representative.
Overall: It looks like if you pass the bar, you have pretty good job opportunities. The one caveat is that if you want to work in Biglaw (particularly outside of the Philly market), you better be ready to bust your tail or try the LSAT again in order to get into a better school. The same is true if you donít want to work on the east coast. If you can live making $50-70k and want to work between DC and NY (particularly in the Philly area), Villanova is a solid choice. You canít just graduate Villanova and expect to have your ticket punched for a life of economic prosperity, but youíll be in a strong spot to start your career and hopefully avoid becoming another nightmare story in the blogosphere of a ruined tier 2 (or lower) grad toiling away in misery to pay to tribute to Sallie Mae.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to post them. Please donít slam me as a Villanova apologist Ė I tried to be honest about the schoolís prospects. I know that it takes a lot more effort to get a job from Villanova than at a top 25 school, and to be honest, I sometime wish I was at a better school. That said Ė You could do a lot worse than Villanova. Just make sure youíre not borrowing for tuition with the expectation that youíll be making six figures at a major firm upon graduation. Thatís definitely not a guarantee.