Below is Therese's response:
Sorry for my delayed response. I have been out of the office on recruiting trips and been swamped. In any event, I have no idea why the author of this commentary has twisted the facts so negatively. I believe this unfairly portrays Miami Law and what we have to offer our students and graduates.
96.2% of our 2007 graduates were employed (93%) or enrolled in graduate studies (2.5%) within 9 months of graduation. The majority of our students work in private practice, with about ¼ of those in large firms and ¾ in small and medium firms. One of the primary reasons that our at-graduation employment rate is not higher is because many of our graduates accept jobs with government employers (a little over 10% of the class) and smaller law firms (28% of the class) which do not extend offers until after bar results are received. Therefore a substantial segment of our students are listed as unemployed at graduation. It is true that more graduates than not practice in Florida or in the SE, but in most cases this is by choice and not because the reputation of Miami does not carry over to other regions.
To get a better sense of some of the jobs held by our students and alumni, I encourage you to review the Student (--LinkRemoved--) and alumni (--LinkRemoved--) spotlight pages. FYI, the Student Spotlight page will be updated soon to include a sampling of summer 2008 experiences.
While I am not a fan of rankings - I feel they tend to leave out much of what is relevant in discerning the numbers - it is inevitable that they be used. But consider this: if you found out that you were relying on easily manipulated data or an obscure sampling of data that may be irrelevant to the outcome for a major investment decision, would you still invest in the same fashion? Probably not. If prospective students are going to pander to the rankings, let’s consider Miami’s #18 ranking in Law Dragon (--LinkRemoved--) . Is this relevant? Probably no less relevant than USN&WR. Should you want to get an idea of why USN&WR is such a sore point with many law schools, I suggest you read Brian Leiter’s March 31, 2008 open letter to Bob Morse of USN&WR (--LinkRemoved-- ... index.html) . Further, you can find an enlightening article in the Southern Methodist University Law Review, Spring 2007 written by Theodore P. Seto called UNDERSTANDING THE U.S. NEWS LAW SCHOOL RANKINGS.
Getting back to Miami Law and jobs prospects, let me assure you that students and graduates are not alone in the job search. We have eight attorneys working in our Career Development Office (see --LinkRemoved-- - a staff that I don’t believe can be matched by many other law schools. These advisors are here to assist our students and graduates in figuring out when, where and how to look for the jobs they want. The CDO sponsors on and off-campus interviewing programs regionally and nationally, hosts guest speakers and networking opportunities, actively seeks job opportunities for our students by visiting firms, judges and other legal employers to promote the school, and works with students and alumni on an individual basis, etc. The resources are here for students to utilize. Additionally, our faculty and alumni regionally and nationally strongly support our students and graduates. If you want to connect with Miami alums wherever they may be (DC, LA, Atlanta, Chicago, NYC, Seattle, Boston, Miami…), just let me know.
As the author mentions, our bar passage rate in Florida is strong (July 2008 Miami was highest in the state at 92.4% vs. the state average of 82.5%) . Further, our graduates who take bars in other states have consistently done as well as or better than the state average.
Miami is a large school* and in order to fill our class, the acceptance rate is high. We don't have the application cluster effect that schools in areas like DC or Boston might have as an advantage as far as the number of applications; e.g., if someone wants to be go to law school in DC, they're likely to apply to all, if not most, of the law schools in DC. The applied to acceptance rate is, unfortunately, a fairly large factor in the rankings. The author compares Miami to the University of Hawaii of the same ranking, which is much smaller than Miami, and as stated on the School’s website, the “only ABA-accredited law school in the Pacific-Asia region.” The bottom line is that Miami has a great applicant pool from which to choose and provides a highly accomplished entering class. Our students have strong credentials and many other characteristics and skills that make the classroom and overall student body dynamic and exciting. Students’ intellect, knowledge, backgrounds and experiences drive much of the discussion in and outside of class enriching the life at Miami Law beyond measure. Providing a student body without this mix would be a disservice to all concerned. Further, the interests of the student body are reflected in the 40 or so student organizations, law reviews and community projects that take place here on a daily basis.
The author mentions the high student to faculty ratio and I must agree that this number has been soft in the recent past. Over a year ago, the Law School started focusing on this issue and has recently hired 3 additional faculty members with plans to hire more in the next year or two.
The author writes that “…there are complaints about the quality of teachers and the out-dated status of many programs at the school.” I am truly surprised to read such a comment. I constantly hear otherwise from both current students and alumni who feel they have received a superb legal education from excellent professors. Outdated programs? Again, this is not the case. If the author wants to give specifics, I could address them. Every school, no matter the ranking, is going to have some disgruntled students or alumni; however to characterize Miami’s students, professors and programs in such sweeping statements without clarification is unjustified.
Miami does have palm trees and great weather, but I assure you, Miami Law offers a great deal more, including a strong academic program and job prospects regionally, nationally, and internationally.
Perhaps you find my discourse above defensive in nature. Since I am constantly asked about and judged by our ranking, I readily admit that I am discouraged by how much weight prospective students (and seemingly parents) put on the USN&WR ranking. Even Bob Morse, the person behind USN&World Report, states that the rankings are given too much weight (see question 28 in our 29 Critical Questions brochure at --LinkRemoved--.) As far as blogs, don’t get me started!
Good luck in the application and decision making process.
*Miami’s 2007 entering class was unusually large (489). The 2008 entering class was considerably smaller (379). Our target class is between 375 and 400.