The University of Colorado Law School continues to make important strides in its career development efforts, with more graduates from the class of 2013 working in jobs that require bar passage than in recent years.
In March 2014, Colorado Law reported post-graduation employment data for its class of 2013 to the American Bar Association (ABA) and the National Association for Law Placement (NALP). Of the 176 graduates, more than 90 percent reported employment nine months after graduation. More than 78 percent of graduates reported a full-time job lasting a year or more for which bar passage was required or a law degree was a significant advantage. Twelve students were still seeking employment nine months after graduation, while three reported not seeking employment. The employment status of two graduates was unknown.
"The class of 2013 exemplified the purposeful and strategic approach to career planning that is essential in this market," Todd Rogers, assistant dean for career development, said. "They are a smart, driven, and engaged group who are taking ownership of their career development, and it was our pleasure to work with them."
Public Service Jobs
Public service jobs are some of the most popular for Colorado Law graduates. Fifteen percent of employed 2013 graduates are working in government, and another 14 percent are in public interest positions, such as with public defender offices and nonprofit organizations. The median salary for public service jobs is $50,064. Colorado Law supports students in their commitment to public service through the Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) program.
Consider, for example, Anthony Santos (’13), who works for the Fourth Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Colorado Springs.
Santos points to a variety of steps the law school took in order to help him achieve his goal. “The Colorado Law Career Development Office (CDO) was always looking for opportunities in the prosecution field and constantly sending me potential opportunities or networking events. The CDO, along with Dean Weiser, also helped the Criminal Prosecution Society bring District Attorneys, U.S. Attorneys, and others in the prosecution field to Colorado Law to speak to students at lunch forums," Santos said. "Those forums gave speakers the opportunity to share their career paths and their invaluable advice on how to pursue the goal of becoming a prosecutor.”
With numerous judges currently teaching courses at Colorado Law, students have exceptional opportunities to meet and connect with local judges. Fifteen percent of employed 2013 graduates accepted judicial clerkships: one federal court clerkship, 11 state appellate court clerkships, and 12 state trial court clerkships.
Working for a judge is an excellent step toward a future career, and the CDO helps students find clerkships and post-clerkship opportunities. Kurt Tyler (’13) currently holds a federal clerkship in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and plans to enter the oil and gas field when it concludes.
“The CDO did an excellent job of pushing out and feeding me information about judicial clerkships,” Tyler said. “CDOnline was also a tremendous resource. By using it, I was able to find an internship with the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission while in school, which provided me with the entry point I needed into the oil & gas legal community.”
Business and Alternative Careers
Thirteen percent of 2013 graduates accepted positions with businesses other than law firms including AMG National Bank, Ball Corporation, DISH Network, D.O.G. Development, Ernst & Young, and Woodspear Properties.
Holly Sutton (’13) is a relationship associate at Colorado State Bank and Trust. Sutton's experience illustrates the importance of people skills in finding a career.
“I met Darla Daniel from Colorado State Bank and Trust for coffee in September 2012, and we emailed each other a couple of times afterwards,” Sutton said. “As it turns out, the bank didn’t have any job openings available. Since they liked me, however, we stayed in touch and a year later they created a new position for me and offered me a job.”
According to Sutton, the secret to success lies in experience.
“I had three jobs over my time at law school, but I look back and think about how I could have had three more diverse experiences to round me out,” Sutton said. “While it’s nice to have paid work, don’t turn something down simply because it’s unpaid. Only one of my three jobs was paid, yet the two unpaid jobs received the most respect from prospective employers. Just get some work experience while in school, and even if you have to live more cheaply doing it, it will pay off on your resume and in getting a post-graduate job.”
Still accounting for the largest employment segment, 32 percent of employed 2013 graduates were working for law firms in private practice with 94 percent of those graduates in long-term, full-time positions. Eighteen 2013 graduates reported employment at National Law Journal 350 law firms, compared to seven in the class of 2012. The median salary reported for graduates in private practice is $76,000.
Katie Nelson ('13) is an associate attorney at Hogan Lovells and participated in the Colorado Pledge to Diversity First Year Summer Program. This competitive program provides diverse students the opportunity to work in paid summer associate positions.
"I am grateful to the Colorado Pledge to Diversity for introducing me to private sector work. The CDO supported me throughout that process by editing my resume and cover letter, and by giving me multiple mock interviews," Nelson said. "It's important that you leave everyone who knows you with the impression that you are capable, intelligent, and someone with whom they would want to work."