Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Arkansas Prefers its JD Advantage

A position in this category is one for which the employer sought an individual with a J.D., and perhaps ever required a J.D., or for which the J.D. provided a demonstrable advantage in obtaining or performing the job, but which does not itself require bar passage or an active law license or involve practicing law.  Examples of positions for which a J.D. is an advantage include a corporate contracts administrator, [ADR] specialist, government regulator analyst, FBI agent, and accountant.  Also included might be jobs in personnel or human resources, jobs with investment banks, jobs with consulting firms, jobs doing compliance work in business, jobs in law firm professional development, and jobs in law school career services offices...It is an indicator that a position does not fall into this category if a J.D. is uncommon among persons holding such a position.
ABA Standard 509 form language, 2013.
We have so many students who graduate from our law school and stay in their current careers,” [Arkansas-Little Rock dean Schwartz] said [in response to the school's 51% employment percentage]. Or the UALR students might have gone to law school to advance their current careers and weren’t interested in becoming attorneys, he said.
At the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville, the employment percentage was 68.2 for the class of 2013, slightly lower than the class of 2012, which had 70.5 percent employed after nine months, according to the ABA. 
Stacy Leeds, law dean at UA, said she prefers to use the number of graduates who were employed in positions requiring bar passage and where having a Juris Doctor degree provides an advantage in obtaining or performing the job, which was 84 percent for UA’s class of 2013, down from 85.6 percent the prior year.
"Arkansas Law Grads Still Finding Tight Market."  (emphasis added).
Number of Arkansas graduates who found "JD Advantage" jobs from 2010 - 2013:  77
Number of Arkansas graduates who found lawyer jobs in 100+ attorney law firms from 2010-2013: 15
Number of Arkansas-LR graduates who found "JD Advantage" jobs from 2010-2013:  64
Number of Arkansas-LR graduates who found lawyer jobs in 100+ attorney law firms from 2010-2013: 0
Source:  Law School Transparency and a slide rule.

Now, there's only one conclusion to draw from these bits of information and that's as follows:  Arkansas has an awesome climate for the magic of the JD Advantage job.  Despite having a relatively small "BigLaw" presence and placing a very small percentage of the state's new lawyers in such jobs, its law schools still manage to place a high amount of graduates in jobs such as accountant, compliance officer, investment banks, and law firm professional development.

Just think of it, friends:  a place where there is little in the way of large law firms that still has a booming business climate such that the local law schools placed 141 students in such jobs over the last five years.  Little Rock, apparently, is a fount for consultants and FBI agents.  Or maybe they export them and people elsewhere love hiring Arkansas and Arkansas-Little Rock graduates for their JD Preferred/Advantage work.  Who knows?!  Regardless, it's impressive that such schools with such a small segment of BigLaw placement are stepping up and landing their graduates in "JD Preferred/Advantage" jobs at a comparable rate to states in much more favorable markets.

Bottom line is that if you're wanting to nab that law degree to make your career awesomer, but maybe don't want to work in a large law firm, move to Arkansas!  Plenty of analyst and consultant and similar jobs in Fort Smith and Jonesboro, and I would bet very few of them are where "a J.D. is uncommon among persons holding such a position."

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