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Penn Law School graduates are employed at more than one and a half times the national average.

Over the past four years, Penn Law graduates have seen full-time employment rates between 86.1 percent and 95.2 percent. According to the American Bar Association, only 58.6 percent of lawyers who graduated from law school in 2012 found full-time employment within nine months. The remaining graduates were underemployed, employed part-time or seeking employment.

In contrast, employment numbers released in February for the class of 2012 showed a full-time employment rate of 95.2 percent — the highest Penn Law graduates have seen in four years. The members of Penn Law’s class of 2013, which had its commencement ceremony on May 13, are expected to report high employment numbers despite the national trend toward underemployment for recent law school graduates. Only 0.7 percent of 2012 Penn Law graduates were employed part-time, as compared to the 6.2 percent national average for law graduates.

Associate Dean for Career Planning and Professionalism at Penn Law Heather Frattone, a 1994 Wharton graduate and 1998 Law graduate, attributed Penn Law graduate’s success to cross-disciplinary education.

“We’re fortunate to be a part of Penn,” Frattone said. “It allows our students to get very broad exposure to law but also to substantive areas in which they might be practicing.”

She cited the Law School’s new Wharton Certificate in Management as an example of what differentiates Penn Law grads in the current job market. Certificates in East Asian Studies, Environmental Policy and Global Human Rights are also options available to Law students.

Frattone likewise praised the Law School’s Center on Professionalism, which assesses the tools students need to be competitive in the job market and how best to give them these skills through classwork and extracurriculars. COP’s initiatives also include mandatory pro bono work before graduation and coaching sessions in persuasive communication.

Despite this pro bono requirement, private firms continued to be the top employer of Penn Law graduates in 2012.

2011 College graduate and third year law student Hannah Gerstenblatt, who is also a former sports editor for The Daily Pennsylvanian, said, “Jobs aren’t just given out anymore like they were in ‘06 and ‘07.” In the private sector, though, she noted that “if you go to a top 10 law school [like Penn Law], you’re great.”

2009 College graduate and third year law student Emily Stagliano said that on-campus recruiting for summer positions after the second year of law school is a major contributor to law students’ employment upon graduation. “[Penn Law] really facilitates individuals going through the OCR process and working for a firm during their 2L summer,” she said.

Gerstenblatt agreed. “Barring emergency, where you go for your summer is where you go in the end,” she added.

Gerstenblatt also referenced the culture at Penn Law as a differentiator of its graduates. Calling her classmates “more personable” and “more pleasant to talk to” than law students at peer institutions, she said that she sees parallels between the undergraduate culture and the environment at the Law School. “I can’t speak for admissions,” she said, “but I think they take Penn undergrads because they want to continue that culture.”

To current Penn undergraduates who are considering law school, Frattone said, “I think a legal education is one of the most valuable things out there today.” She cautioned, however, that a student enrolling in a law program should have very clear academic and career objectives.

Stagliano echoed these sentiments. “Law school does not make sense for individuals who are merely unsure of what they want out of a career.”

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