Dear Alumni and Friends,
I send to each of you my very best wishes during this joyous season.
I also want to use this moment to update you about our great progress in recent years, and to share some ideas about how we can and must build on our momentum. Simply put, our ability to reach the next levels of success depends substantially on our harnessing the wealth, connections, information and insight of our alumni and friendship communities, a very large number of whom who have risen to enviable professional heights.
- Our entering JD Class this fall is larger than the previous year’s, and has stronger academic credentials. This is the third year in a row that the incoming class’s overall GPA/LSAT median combination moved upward, in a climate where admissions have been very challenging for all law schools. We also saw a significant increase in the size of our LLM class this fall.
- We have made major gains in job placement. Approximately 87% of our Class of 2016 were in full-time, long-term legal jobs as of March 15, 2017 (the reporting date), a performance that places us within the top 20 or so law schools in the country. This improvement generated a nice jump in the summer 2017 Above the Law ranking of the Top 50 law schools - from #31 (where we had been in 2015 and 2016) to #22 (our highest place ever in this ranking). We are looking for a similar move in the US News rankings, which will be published next spring.
- Our Class of 2017 achieved a 96% first-time-taker bar passage rate on the July 2017 Illinois bar exam, up from 91+% for the July 2016 exam, and exceeding the overall statewide pass rate for first-time takers of 80% by 16 percentage points. This 96% pass rate placed us second among Illinois schools for the second year in a row, behind only University of Chicago in both summer 2016 and summer 2017 exams. In an era when bar pass rates have been declining in most jurisdictions and at most law schools, our graduates have improved their performance in each of the past three years.
- I do not know of another school (although there may be a few) whose incoming class credentials and outgoing bar passage rates have both increased for each of the last three years.
- In October, the With Illinois capital campaign launched with a goal of raising $2.25 billion for our campus by 2022. The College of Law has an initial goal of $40 million, and will focus on four areas essential to excellence at the College: 1) student scholarships and accessibility; 2) faculty research support; 3) building enhancements; and 4) new initiatives to promote classroom and experiential learning opportunities and to build on existing strengths of the College and the University to tackle pressing national needs (e.g., in law and technology, in the training of professional leaders, and in the use of legal devices and traditions to resolve contentious factual disputes bearing on public policy).
While the monetary goals of the Campaign will be the most visible indicators of progress, we are focused on all aspects of engagement. We seek to increase our overall donor participation on an annual basis, to introduce more opportunities for folks to connect with us through events on and off-campus, and to continually improve data integrity and the ways in which we communicate with alumni and friends.
In short, we must use the coming months and years to cement the College’s reputation - and guarantee its future - as a top-flight law school. To do this, I need your assistance in myriad ways. Would you consider helping in one or more of the following respects?
- Please visit our website at law.illinois.edu. As you will see, great things are happening at the College every week. Take a look at what we are doing, and consider sharing with a friend. The more “buzz” we can generate about the College, the better!
- Do you know of someone considering law school? Encourage them to attend the College, and introduce them to Becky Ray, our Assistant Dean for Admissions, at email@example.com.
- Right now, we are working to assist our Class of 2017 graduates secure employment. As noted earlier, last year, nearly 87 percent of the Class of 2016 secured full-time legal employment. This year, we are aiming to improve that number to 90 percent. This is a realistic goal, but only with your help. Do you know of - or can you help find out about the possibility of - an employer hiring entry-level law graduates? Would you be willing to speak with and mentor recent graduates seeking work? If so, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will connect you to our Office of Career Planning and Professional Development.
- Within the last two years, we have introduced a new course known as the Corporate Counsel Practicum. The Practicum allows students to obtain practical and marketable legal experiences by working with in-house legal departments for academic credit. Are you an in-house lawyer willing to host a student, or can you introduce us to an in-house lawyer who might be willing to participate? If so, please contact our Executive Assistant Dean, Greg Miarecki, at email@example.com.
- Finally, the College would benefit from any financial support you could offer. Every gift matters, and I promise that we’ll put it to good use. For those of you able to make a tax-deductible contribution by December 31, please contact our Assistant Dean for Advancement, Bill Turner, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or make a donation online.
During the next year and beyond, I will be traveling the country to talk in more depth about the tremendous things we are accomplishing. Please stay tuned for more details on events in your area, and come out and see us if you can. And, if your schedule permits, please visit us in Champaign. Anytime you may be in the area, let me know!
With all best wishes,
University of Illinois College of Law