‘Tis the season for law schools accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) to tally up and report the employment outcomes for last year’s spring graduates, and I am thrilled to spill the beans about outcomes for our Tech Edge JD (Tech Edge) certificate-earners. Specifically, all ten (that’s 100%!) of the inaugural Tech Edge certificate-earners received employment offers before the 10-month post-graduation cutoff for ABA reporting purposes.
About the Program:
The Tech Edge, which accepted its first cohort of students in the Fall of 2018, is Santa Clara Law’s innovative experiential JD certificate program. While many JD certificate programs focus on doctrinal knowledge acquisition through coursework, the Tech Edge is based upon the acquisition of skills through experiential learning. The Tech Edge students, all of whom have a demonstrated desire to work in technology law, start their 1L year with a customized professional development plan in accordance with their career interests. Each student is assigned a team of two Silicon Valley attorney mentors and one faculty or staff advisor who guide the student through their professional development. While in law school, Tech Edge students complete at least 450 hours of work experience through clinical and externship or internship placements. To successfully complete the certificate requirements, students must complete six skill milestones which can be obtained through courses, extracurricular activities, clinics or work experiences.
Sound like a lot of work? It is, but the intent is that the extra work will pay off — namely, that employers will recognize these graduates have acquired essential skills and competencies to succeed in a technology law job.
For the inaugural graduating class of 2021, it appears that the extra work has indeed paid off. The Tech Edge graduates landed in the following roles post-graduation:
Cooley LLP — Corporate Staff Attorney
Fenwick & West LLP — Litigation Associate
Fenwick & West LLP — Staff Attorney
Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy LLP — Immigration Associate
Google — Public Policy Analyst
Kirkland & Ellis LLP — Litigation Associate
Privacy Practice, LLC — Associate
Ropes & Gray LLP — Litigation Associate
Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP — IP & Technology Associate
Womble Bond Dickinson (US) LLP — Intellectual Property Associate
It was surprising to me to see how many of these graduates ended up in law firm jobs, and specifically Biglaw. After all, every year a significant number of Santa Clara Law graduates go straight to in-house JD Advantage and JD Required positions, and the Tech Edge certificate program tends to attract students who are interested in working in-house. This could be due to the fact that this first cohort was a pilot class of only 10 graduates, and in selecting such a small group of the most dedicated technology law enthusiasts, we selected students that were likely to be attractive to Biglaw firms.
I was equally surprised to see the variety of career choices amongst this relatively small group. The vision for the Tech Edge program was to prepare students for a wide-ranging slate of technology law careers, and it appears to have accomplished that objective.
The Tech Edge program now has a population of over 100 students in the building. As the program graduates more students in the coming years, it will be exciting and informative to see where they end up.