...to take a survey

Last Thursday, we opened our ATL Firm & School Insiders Survey and so far, so good. We’ve heard from students at nearly 100 law schools and lawyers at about 200 firms. As previously noted, this survey is one of the first data-gathering tools we’ll be using to create a new, expanded ATL Career Center. While we’re pleased with this initial response, of course we encourage all of you who haven’t yet to take 3-5 minutes and head over here to take our absolutely confidential survey. Thanks in advance.

To all non-law firm attorneys: thanks for your insight regarding your law school alma maters. Please know that we are looking forward to asking about your professional experiences soon, whether they be in government, non-profit, in-house, academia or elsewhere.

As our data accumulates, we look forward to slicing and dicing it in myriad ways, in order to find patterns of interest to our readership, but more importantly, for useful insights for anyone researching legal education and careers.

After the jump, we share a handful of early trends in the survey data:

• Law firm lawyers were asked a “time machine” hypothetical: “If you could go back and do it over again, would you still choose to work for your firm?” Despite all the angst and vitriol of most online discussions about law firm life, a remarkable 82% of respondents said yes, they would make the same decision and re-join their current firm. Responses were generally positive across all practice areas: Labor & Employment is the highest with saying 85% “yes.” Corporate attorneys seem to be, relatively, the most regretful, albeit with an upbeat 76% positive rate.

• Cynics would have you believe that any idea of “firm morale” is strictly a function of how one feels about the paycheck. Thus far, corporate attorneys are telling us that they are significantly more satisfied with their compensation than their counterparts in the litigation department. So how to reconcile this with the fact that litigators are consistently rating their employers higher for both “firm morale” as well as “culture and colleagues”?

• Law schools have been getting hammered lately, for everything from laziness to fudging data to advocating teetotalling. But what do the students themselves have to say? We asked them to rate their schools’ academics, clinical training, social life, career counseling, and financial aid advising. These aspects of the law school experience stack up much as you might expect:



These stellar academic ratings might be due to the fact that our student respondents thus far have skewed elite: Harvard, NYU, Columbia and Michigan are the most common schools. Obviously, career services offices do not control the economy. In a seller’s job market, everyone loves them. But these days, (“2012: Elie Turns His Eye to the CSO“), not so much. To be fair, not all the feedback was negative: the career services folks at Cornell, Virginia and Texas are all doing a great job, we’re told.

• CSO ratings get much worse once the students are out the door:



So while students give their CSOs basically a “D” grade, alumni have a much harsher verdict. Non-law firm attorney graduates give them something that looks like an “F-triple-minus.” The difference between students and alumni seems like the difference between fretting over a bad weather forecast and actually get caught in the storm.

Do you agree or disagree with these findings? You’ll find our 3-5 minute, absolutely confidential survey here. Let us know what you think.


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