The National Jurist - Back to School 2017 - 15
Experience is key
At first there were only two. Then there
were 20. Now, nearly half of the secondyear students at Ave Maria School of Law
are participating in Florida's Certified
Legal Internship (CLI) program.
Why? Because the hands-on experience they receive in the CLI program is
invaluable to local employers, said Kevin
Cieply, dean of Ave Maria School of Law.
"Students are beginning to understand
that the way to get a job after graduation
is to engage in the community so that
potential employers can evaluate them,
and so that the students can determine
where they would want to work," he said.
photo By michael falco
Washington University's graduate
employment rate has increased by 15 percent since 2011, with employment levels
hovering above 90 percent since 2014.
Staudt admits that improvement in
the school's employment rankings can be
partly attributed to an uptick in the legal
market. But, the school also is fortunate
to have established pipelines with local
employers. Many employers in the area
reach out to the law school, searching for
To ensure that students are in positions to take advantage of these opportunities, the career services staff works
one-on-one with students at all stages of
their career searches. Staff helps first-year
students put together resumes, advises
second-year students on internships, and
encourages third-year students to take
decisive action on job offers.
If a student is having difficulty finding a job, then the career services office
will examine the student's resume, cover
letter and interviewing skills, Staudt said.
Sometimes it is as easy as correcting a
typo. At other times, it requires the guidance of a mentor or interview coach.
This tailored, individualized approach
has contributed greatly to Washington
Smaller schools also report that individualized attention is critical to placing
students in jobs following graduation.
At Pace University, for example,
Backer has been reaching out to each
student, offering career counseling. Each
student's interests are then saved in a
database, which Backer pulls from to send
personalized job postings.
"While the traditional career
route is shrinking, there is a lot
of growth in other areas of the
-Jill Backer, assistant dean for career development, Pace University
Students apply to the Florida State Bar
to participate in the CLI program. By
doing so, they are able to try actual cases
with the supervision of an attorney. Of
the last 20 or so Ave Maria students who
participated in the program, 19 were able
to secure employment upon graduation.
Ave Maria saw its graduate employment rate increase from 55 percent to
68 percent between 2015 and 2016. The
growth was due in part to a growing local
economy, but the school also increased
its efforts to place graduates in jobs after
graduation. Providing students with experiential learning opportunities has been
essential to this effort, Cieply said.
A few years ago, only 60 percent of
Ave Maria students participated in internships. Now, close to 80 percent have held
an internship of some kind prior to graduating. Cieply said he believes there is a
correlation between the number of students participating in internships and the
Back to School 2017
The NaTioNal JurisT
number of students finding employment.
"The school is aggressive in identifying
opportunities for good placement where
they can build skills, find good mentors
and potentially be placed for employment
after graduation," Cieply said.
Take a quick look at Cancel's resume,
and Cieply's theory is confirmed. She
held a summer internship after her
first year. The following fall and spring
semesters, Cancel participated in Pace
University's Federal Judicial Extern
Honors Program, which gave her the
opportunity to work in chambers for
local judges. She also traveled with a
moot court team to Florida, with a trial
advocacy team to Puerto Rico and with
an arbitration team to Austria.
These experiences, in addition to her
grades, helped Cancel lock in a coveted
summer associate position at Fried Frank,
the second-best law firm to work for,
according to the ranking company Vault,