So You Want to Go to Law School. Do You Want a Job, Too?

By Robyn Hagan Cain on March 15, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Earlier this week, our own Willie Peacock explained why -- "despite the hysteria" -- it's a great time to apply to law school.

In some ways he's correct. Demand is in flux, but the supply is static: Law school applications have taken a nosedive, but most schools aren't cutting their class sizes. Applicants arguably have a better shot of getting into a better school.

But we need talk to talk about employment prospects after school, because you need a job to pay off law school loans. And eat.

Among the T14 schools, employment prospects are promising. (Though U.S. News and World Report employment reporting in the 2014 law school rankings was based on 2011 data, and the legal market has further contracted, we're going to give those numbers the benefit of the doubt for now.) At the top six schools in this year's list, employed-at-graduation rates were above 90 percent. At 7th-ranked UVA, the employed rate was 97.3 percent. Above the Law compiled this handy list of the T14 employed-at-graduation rates:

1. Yale - 90.7 percent
2. Harvard - 90.9 percent
2. Stanford - 93.2 percent
4. Columbia - 93.2 percent
4. Chicago - 90.6 percent
6. NYU - 93.1 percent
7. U. Penn. - 83.6 percent
7. UVA - 97.3 percent
9. Berkeley - 72.6 percent
10. Michigan - 70.7 percent
11. Duke - 72.9 percent
12. Northwestern - 77.4 percent
13. Cornell - 69.7 percent
14. Georgetown - 63.7 percent

Those numbers dwindle as we look at schools that round out the Top 30. (GW stands from the pack with an over-80 percent employed at graduation rate.)

15. University of Texas-Austin - 62 percent
15. Vanderbilt University - 65.2 percent
17. University of California-Los Angeles - 45.9 percent
18. University of Southern California (Gould) - 54.6 percent
19. University of Minnesota--Twin Cities - 64 percent
19. Washington University in St. Louis - 52.7 percent
21. George Washington University - 81.7 percent
21. University of Alabama - 66.5 percent
23. Emory University - 52.4 percent
24. University of Notre Dame - 48.9 percent
25. Indiana University-Bloomington (Maurer) - 62.1 percent
26. University of Iowa - 48.6 percent
26. Washington and Lee University - 27.9 percent
28. University of Washington - 54.9 percent
29. Arizona State University (O'Connor) - 50.2 percent
29. Boston University - 44.0 percent

(All of these numbers are available on each school's USNWR information page.)

The law school admissions process requires due diligence. For example, if you want to study tax law, go to a school with a good tax program, not just the highest-ranked school (assuming you don't get into a T14) that accepts you. Use the University of Michigan Law School's handy debt repayment calculator to determine whether you can afford your top-choice schools, given the loans you would need and the reported starting salaries of graduates from those schools.

And if you shudder at the thought of a four-figure monthly loan payment for the next 25 years, it might not be a good time to apply to law school.

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