MISSOULA – Bucking a national downward trend caused in part by COVID-19, the employment rate for University of Montana law graduates climbed in 2020 compared to 2019.
Fully 94% of the Alexander Blewett III School of Law’s class of 2020 were employed or seeking a post-graduate degree 10 months after graduation, and 86.9% were in full-time, long-term, bar-passage-required positions.
According to national statistics from the American Bar Association, 77.4% of 2020 graduates from 197 law schools approved by the ABA were employed in full-time, long-term bar-passage-required or Juris Doctor-advantage jobs roughly 10 months after graduation – an employment rate nearly 10% lower than UM law graduates.
“Despite the uncertainty of the past year, our graduates have been able to achieve their career goals and find employment at an exceptionally high rate,” said Katy Stack, the UM law school’s director of career development.
UM class of 2020 graduate Brandon Zeak had been nervous about how the pandemic would impact his future employment, but the internship he had throughout law school at a local Missoula firm turned into a position as a litigation associate after graduation.
Although just starting his career as a civil attorney, Zeak saw the Missoula County Attorney's Office job opening for a deputy position inviting experienced attorneys to apply and decided to give it a shot because of his passion for criminal law. He hoped to at least make an impression on the County Attorney’s Office, he said, where he envisioned himself working in the future. To his surprise, he was offered the position.
“I could not be happier in my career right now,” he said. “This job has made me feel like I have found where I belong, and I believe that this is where I will practice until the end of my career.”
Among 2020 Blewett School of Law graduates, 33.3% began work in law firms, 21.7% found employment in public interest or government positions and 30.4% went on to clerkships, which are some of the most prestigious and competitive employment opportunities available to recent law graduates.
"Our law school enjoys a high clerkship placement rate, and the class of 2020 was no exception,” Stack said. “Twenty-one of our 69 graduates were placed in state or federal court clerkships upon graduation, a percentage that is three times higher than the national average. Clerkships are a wonderful introduction to the practice of law and provide graduates with benefits that can last their entire careers.”
“It’s so gratifying to see our students complete their law school journeys and go on to careers of meaning serving their communities, state and nation,” said Paul Kirgis, dean of the Blewett School of Law.
For more information, visit the Blewett School of Law website at https://www.umt.edu/law.
Contact: Andi Armstrong, director of marketing and communications, UM Alexander Blewett III School of Law, 406-243-6509, firstname.lastname@example.org.