In its Spring 2019 issue, The National Jurist Magazine listed South Florida as one of the top markets in the U.S. for finding a job. It is not surprise between the strong market and Miami Law's strong students that Pre-Law Magazine's 2018 back to school issue ranked Miami Law as being one of the highest performing law schools in terms of employment in the article “You’re Hired!” Looking at all law school graduates, Pre-Law quoted data from the American Bar Association which shows that 75.3% of 2017 law school graduates were employed in full-time, long-term 10 months after graduation. At 82.69%, Miami Law’s numbers are considerably higher than the national average.
Regarding the ranking, Natalia Marulanda, Director of Strategic Initiatives in Miami Law’s Career Development Office said, “We work hard to ensure that our graduating students have secured jobs at graduation or soon thereafter, and we are incredibly proud of our employment outcomes.”
Professionalism from Day 1
While having a strong academic curriculum is Miami Law’s primary objective, securing a job post-graduation is key. That is why a focus on professional development and hands-on, practical learning is a part of Miami Law from the get-go.
Miami Law’s themed orientation for 1Ls is titled LEAP-Legal Education & Professionalism. “Orientation is the launching of your professional identity and we focus on creating your professional identity as you move into the legal profession and this starts from day one,” says Greg Levy, Associate Dean for Academic and Student Services.
Additionally, from the start of the first year, Miami Law’s Student Development Program matches each incoming student with an advisor who helps him or her with everything from career goals to integration of academic goals with career aspirations.
Career Advising to Help Produce Working Lawyers
The Career Development Office also partners with students beginning their 1L year to explore and develop their professional goals and provides them, throughout their three years, with tools to navigate the professional world of law and maximize career success.
Miami Law’s CDO is comprised of nine career advisors who work hands-on with students in both preparing for and landing jobs. Services range from the basics such as getting business cards to the more strategic such as preparing for interviews and negotiating offers.
The CDO expands employer relations and employment opportunities for students and graduates, and it currently has nearly 8,000 employer contacts in its online career platform, Symplicity. Further, its robust On Campus Interviewing Program takes place each fall and spring, facilitating student interviews with prospective employers from the public and private sectors for summer and post-graduate employment positions.
Specific CDO Programs Contribute to Students Becoming Working Lawyers
“Started in 2016, the 3L Professional Practice Program specifically helps graduating students hone their job search skills, prepare for the bar exam, and receive candid feedback,” says Marulanda. As part of the program, each student creates a Professional Development Plan and attends an in-person meeting with the Director of Strategic Career Planning to review the plan prior to graduation so he or she is ready to hit the ground running.
In addition to helping students think strategically about their career development, Marulanda adds, “We also provide opportunities to meet potential employers and begin developing relationships in the legal community. The CDO hosts an on-campus Informational Career Fair, a speaker series featuring attorneys from a variety of practice areas, a Mock Interview Program, a Speed Networking event, and numerous panels featuring prominent attorneys and alumni from around the country.”
Networking Programs with Alumni Support Employment Prospects
Another key element of Miami Law is it weaves student engagement with alumni throughout all three years of study with a myriad of networking and professional development programs.
Table of 8 dinners organized with the law alumni office enable young alumni to dine with distinguished alumni in the local area.
UNetworking initiatives such as Breakfast with the Bench and Evening with Esquires provide students the opportunity to meet and speak one-on-one with attorneys and judges from the local Miami community.
For more than 25 years, the Partnership for Professionalism program has brought together judges, attorneys and law students in informal roundtable discussions over a buffet dinner.
Coordinator of the event and Assistant Dean for Professional Development Bill VanderWyden agrees these events benefit students. “Networking for students is a major component of these events. During the social hour before the dinner and program commence, students are able to meet judges and attorneys. It is common that internships, clerkships, and permanent position offers for the students result from these events.”
A Cup of Coffee Can Go a Long Way
Aside from formal gatherings, every Thursday morning law students can interact with faculty at Legal Grounds where students, faculty and administrators enjoy coffee and bagels on the Bass Bricks, Miami Law’s central courtyard. These gatherings can open professional development opportunities.
Professor Carrie Bettinger-Lopez attests to this sentiment. “I met a fantastic 1L student during Legal Grounds and have since offered him a position as my research assistant in the Human Rights clinic. I’m not sure our paths would have crossed otherwise.”
Another program in coordination with Miami Law’s alumni office is the Coffee Connectors Network - a way for students and alumni to connect across the U.S. Through this initiative students sometimes connect with an alum over a cup of java for job hunting tips or referrals.
Support All Around for Students to Become Working Lawyers
In light of all of Miami Law’s programs supporting professional development and networking, it is not a coincidence the law school is on Pre-Law Magazine’s list of top schools in terms of employment.
Alessandria San Roman, J.D. ‘18 and now an associate at Holland and Knight LLP, commented on Miami Law’s support of networking when discussing her then position as a law clerk at Bacardi USA. She said, “Really what made the difference in trying to obtain this opportunity was networking on our campus. Our networking is one of the most outstanding abilities on our campus.”
Marulanda agrees, “We frequently receive feedback from employers that Miami Law students are among the most professional, poised and talented they’ve seen. It’s no surprise to us, then, that when they are looking to hire attorneys, they turn to Miami Law graduates first.”