By Andrew Cohen
In just weeks, the American Bar Association (ABA) is expected to require law schools to follow more stringent reporting guidelines on graduate employment and salaries.
“The ABA is making an effort to enable prospective students to make better-informed decisions,” said Terrence Galligan, Berkeley Law’s assistant dean for career development. “The key is for everybody to play by the same rules and abide by these new standards so people can make meaningful comparisons.”
In December, the ABA approved a new annual questionnaire it will send to law schools so the organization can gather more detailed employment data. Law schools will also have to provide clearer, more complete information to prospective students, pending ABA approval of its new guidelines. In anticipation of the new rules, Berkeley Law recently posted its latest employment data on the school’s Career Development Office (CDO) website.
Under the ABA guidelines, law schools will have to report 25th, 50th, and 75th percentile salary figures for graduates in four job categories: jobs requiring a law degree, jobs in which a law degree is preferred, jobs in other professions, and nonprofessional jobs. This information will also include salary breakdowns in 15 sub-categories. As a result, a full-time job at a top law firm and a part-time editing job could no longer both be simply labeled “employed.”
Other recommended changes include reporting the number of graduates that comprise the pool of published salaries, and stipulating whether the jobs are long-term, short-term or funded by the law school.
The ABA is already empowered to levy sanctions against law schools for incomplete, inaccurate, or misleading consumer information. This new proposal will enable it to place schools on probation or even revoke their accreditation for failing to comply with the new standards.
The guidelines are a response to calls from students, graduates, and three U.S. senators to give prospective law-school applicants a more comprehensive picture of graduate employment and salary levels.
CDO in High Gear
The CDO recently bolstered its staff with two hires. Former nonprofit attorney Melanie Rowen is a new public-interest counselor, and former mid-size firm attorney Samorn Selim ’09 handles private-sector counseling and outreach to small and mid-size firms. Generally, such firms lack the resources to engage in recruiting efforts.
“This is an area where we can make some real inroads,” Galligan said. “Today’s students have to be more flexible geographically and in terms of the type of job they’re willing to accept. But while their first job may not be their perfect job, it’ll get them on the path to that perfect job.”
The CDO, which offers half-hour counseling appointments and walk-in sessions, is expanding its tailored, pragmatic services to students and alumni. Programs include interview practice, resume-writing assistance, summer-job strategy meetings for first-year students, and alumni mentoring and networking opportunities.
The office has steadily added more alumni programs over the past year. The most recent addition is an initiative that connects students and graduates who are the first in their families to attend college or law school.
“We’ve also ramped up the number of video and audio offerings on our site,” said CDO Recruitment Manager Marty Grenhart. “Our students have busy schedules, and it’s important to give them flexibility to view or listen to these programs at a time that’s convenient for them.”