I generally stay very far away from these type of speculative, half-cocked, not entirely informed exchanges on the quality of a school based on one specific survey or point of information. For the candidates that have posed specific questions regarding employment statistics we've referred them to the Office of Professional and Career Development (OPCD). I will give my personal speculative, somewhat half-cocked, and probably not entirely informed perspective. Take it for what you will.
It is a tough job market. Where a school started (what resources and support they offer) in all this makes a big difference in regard to how they are doing now. Ranking doesn't have as much impact on employment as one might think, especially in the short term. Overall is it better to be ranked higher than lower? Sure. Still employment success at the institutional level is difficult to measure in ways that are truly meaningful for any individual candidate.
Further it ebbs and flows at institutions and in the marketplace. Schools do have better years than others and none of us will probably be able to point to one specific thing that "caused" the numbers to slip. Some years students are more motivated than others - more willing to take risks or are more nimble with their own goals. As with most NC schools we saw a dip in the bar passage last summer. Of course, this impacted the employability of some of our graduates. At Wake Forest we're also dealing with a smaller class than UNC or Emory and thus a couple more people unemployed for whatever reason has a greater impact on the big picture.
The fact is that all of these schools you are discussing have similar resources and networks. They are all respected schools. Almost every little bit of your ability to succeed in this job market at any of these schools is going to be about how you perform. You won't get some magic bump by going to UNC or Emory over Wake Forest (or the other way around). That being said most of all of these graduates will be fine in the long term. Nine months seems like a long time but regardless of which of these schools you choose you may have to wait and be flexible and approach your career in a thoughtful and creative way to reach to realize your own personal and professional goals. Ten years later nine months won't seem like a long time if you took the time to find the right job for you.
Things haven't fallen apart at Wake Forest because our employment stats are a little down this year and these other schools you're comparing us to haven't figured out something we haven't. There are so many factors that impact the overall success of our OPCD efforts many of which are not under the control of Wake Forest. Nonetheless Wake Forest has engaged it's alumni in the employment process and are working with our Board to be innovative in building even stronger and more supportive networks for our students. Further we've implemented a one hour first year course (pass/fail) that provides our students with direct resources and training to prepare them for a professional market that may not be clamoring for new lawyers. These initiatives were not available in their current state to the graduating class whose employment statistics you are discussing.
Wake Forest is committed to helping every single student realize their professional goals. We offer a strong academic program in a supportive environment. Our network of alumni are supportive and loyal. We have dedicated professionals in place to assist and counsel you in your search. If you otherwise feel Wake Forest is the right place for you and you are willing to work hard to realize realistic goals, you will have as much opportunity to do that at Wake Forest as any of the schools I've seen us compared to in this discussion.
Okay. That is my admittedly completely biased two cents. Feel free to lambaste me and point out that I am a paid mouthpiece for the university and law school. Still I think all this speculation and positioning is mostly not particularly well informed and doesn't have the perspective of someone who has been working in higher education for the time I have. At the end of the day if you don't believe in the value of the degree or Wake Forest, then you shouldn't pursue a law degree and especially not at Wake. There are lots of options and we want you to appreciate the value of the education you receive.
Feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or would like to talk.
Wake Forest Law firstname.lastname@example.org
(336) 758-5705 direct