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Akron Law grads score big on securing jobs

Jordan Knabb is among the many May 2015 Akron law graduates to secure a job. He's serving as an assistant prosecutor for the City of Akron. (Photo courtesy of Jordan Knabb).

Legal News Reporter

Published: October 12, 2016

When Charleston, West Virginia native Jordan Knabb first paid a visit to The University of Akron’s campus in 2012 while trying to find the right law school, he said educators and recruiters spent a lot of time discussing the school’s bar preparation and employment resources.

“There was an emphasis on the end-game, which I did not find when I visited other campuses,” said Knabb.

The distinction was one of the key reasons he said he opted to enroll at The University of Akron School of Law. His decision has paid off in the form of a full-time position. He’s now an assistant prosecutor for the City of Akron, the same office where he began working as a legal intern just months before his May 2015 graduation.

“The career placement office always had an open door policy,” said Knabb. “While I was more concerned about my classes and studying, my advisor made sure I did not lose sight of the big picture.

“I began working with the career office on my resume during the second semester and I secured an internship at the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office at the end of the first year.”

He also got the chance to work at two law firms, where he handled criminal defense and civil matters, allowing him to hone in on exactly what he wanted to do.

“Akron Law really cares about its students even after they graduate,” he said. “I still receive their ‘Career Connection’ blog, which lets me know about other opportunities that are out there.”

Knabb is one of many successful juris doctor candidates to graduate in May 2015.

The class was made up of 142 students and 138 answered inquiries about their employment.

Alisa Benedict O’Brien, assistant dean for career services at The University of Akron School of Law, said 90.6 percent of those responding had secured jobs 10 months after leaving Akron Law and 2.9 percent were enrolled in an additional full-time degree program for a total number of 93.5 percent.

She said 61.6 percent of students are working in positions that require bar passage, while 16.7 percent have what’s known as JD Advantage jobs in compliance, risk management or some other type of professional position where bar passage is not a prerequisite but provides an edge in getting the job. The remaining students secured employment in a variety other of professional and non-professional areas.

“When tracking our graduates, we follow the methodology used by the National Association for Law Placement (NALP),” Benedict O’Brien said. “We measure employment rates 10 months after graduation and our graduates self-report and classify their employment into NALP’s categories.”

When compared to NALP’s national statistics for 2015, Akron Law’s numbers are even more impressive. On its website, NALP reports that the overall employment rate for students that responded from the class of 2015 was 86.7 percent, “unchanged from that for the Class of 2014.”

The nonprofit organization further noted “the overall employment rate remains more than 5 percentage points below the 91.9 percent reached in 2007, which stands as the highest rate in 26 years.”

According to NALP’s 2015 national numbers, 66.6 of students got jobs in places requiring bar passage and 14.5 percent secured JD Advantage positions.

The website states, “Moreover, the number of jobs found by graduates was down by more than 3,000 compared with 2014. However, since the number of graduates was also down according to the ABA (American Bar Association), the employment rate remained steady even as the number of jobs declined.”

In 2014, Akron Law reported an overall employment rate of 91.1 percent, with 54.8 percent of students securing positions requiring bar passage, 25 percent getting JD Advantage jobs and the remainder working in other professional or non-professional positions.

The numbers represent a steady increase in the percentage of Akron Law graduates scoring jobs. Akron Law’s 2008 class had an employment rate of 82.1 percent.

“In 2008, we saw a major shift in the legal market as the economy weakened and traditional legal jobs were scarce and extremely difficult to secure for new law grads,” said Benedict O’Brien.

“I strongly believe that Akron Law’s focus on practical skills helps prepare graduates to be practice ready, which plays a major role in our upward numbers.”

Sarah M.R. Cravens, interim co-dean at The University of Akron School of Law, attributes part of the success to the individualized attention given to each student.

“On day one we begin preparing them to think and act like lawyers,” said Cravens. “We have lectures on professionalism and ethics that relate to the practice of law during orientation.

“In the middle of the first semester students are required to meet with our assistant dean for career planning, Alisa Benedict O’Brien, to discuss their goals and how best to achieve them,” said Cravens. “Dean O’Brien helps each student to network. She works with our alumni to connect them with the students and she is there to discuss different internships to help them determine what job is right for them.”

Cravens said students could gain on-the-job experience in externships or in one of the school’s eight clinics, where they assist clients under the supervision of a practicing attorney.  

“They can also pursue a specialized certificate or participate in mock trial or other national advocacy competitions.

“Because our application rates have increased, we are also able to select stronger candidates for admission who are more likely to perform well in the job market,” said Cravens.

Matthew J. Wilson, former Akron Law dean and interim president of The University of Akron, said the school’s high placement rate is “very encouraging.

“It’s a great time to be a student at Akron Law,” said Wilson. “We have so many different programs to help students prepare for the practice of law.

“I think the employment rates will continue at the same high level or perhaps go up a little more because of all the training opportunities at the law school.”