Grads say finding a job took longer than expected

You might expect recent law school grads to think that landing a job wouldn't be as challenging as climbing Everest. After all, the economy is strong. Recent job reports have been promising. And youthful optimism — it's a thing.

But a new Kaplan Bar Review survey of recent law school graduates finds that a majority said the process was more time consuming than they had anticipated.

Of the 417 newly minted J.D.s surveyed, 52 percent say the job search process required more time than they anticipated; just 11 percent say the job search process required less time than they anticipated; the remaining 37 percent say it required about the amount of time they anticipated. 

When asked about the biggest surprises they encountered during the job hunting process, those surveyed shared the following anecdotes:

- “I think I overestimated the value of my GPA, class rank, journal experience, and other qualifications. Not that those are unimportant, but I should have spent just as much time networking as I did studying.”

- “I was surprised by the amount of people who don’t ask about your law school grades since professors and schools make it sound like if you got any Cs in law school it is the end of your law career.”

- “Career planning and job search begins during your 1L summer. If you learn like I did that you enjoy other aspects of the law you need to network to get where you need to go.”

- “It was a bit of a surprise to learn that many firms do not hire pending bar results anymore, so navigating the limbo period between obtaining a degree and receiving bar passage results is a bit difficult.”

- “Facebook can be an ally for job seekers. After reading a well written legal article on equine law (stable keeper lien rights), I messaged the author complimenting them on the article and asking how to find out more information as that was the niche field I was looking to enter. I received an email shortly thereafter asking if I was interested in a position at that firm.”

The survey found that overall, law school grads give their alma maters’ career services office above average marks when it comes to helping them find a job, with 23 percent awarding them an “A”; 30 percent gave them a “B”; 23 percent, a “C”; 14 percent a “D”; and 11 percent an “F”.

“The job market for newly graduated lawyers has not been this strong since the start of the Great Recession, which is promising, but that doesn’t mean that jobs are just going to fall into their laps. It requires networking, staring the process early, and often passing the bar exam, as many employers won’t hire you until you’ve secured your license,” said Tammi Rice, vice president, Kaplan Bar Review.

“We encourage all recent law school graduates to take advantage of the resources and guidance your alma mater’s career services office can provide you. They have a vested interest in seeing their graduates succeed, so they want to be helpful as you look to land a job that requires that you passed the bar.”

Law school grads also largely gave their former law schools strong marks in terms of equipping them with the skills needed to successfully transition from being a student to a legal professional, with 33 percent awarding them an “A”;  45 percent, a “B”; 16 percent a “C”; 3 percent a “D”; and 3 percent an “F”.  

Rice added, “Overconfidence can sometimes get law school graduates into trouble, whether it’s thinking that they have allocated enough time to the job hunting search to thinking they have the proper professional skills to easily transition into the workforce. One thing we often hear from employers is that they wish their new lawyer hires were more work ready. Law schools are increasingly looking at experiential training to fill that skills gap that employers are concerned about and we think that’s a positive development for the legal field.”