From the Dean: No. 1 in the Nation

The University of Georgia is this year’s national champion.

No, I’m not (just) talking about the College Football Playoff National Championship (though that was nice). Rather, I’m spotlighting the employment rate for the Class of 2021.

Based on publicly available data, your law school has posted the highest employment rate of any law school in the nation for full-time, long-term jobs requiring bar passage or benefiting from a J.D. (excluding law school-funded positions).

That’s right. Name any law school. We outpaced (and outplaced) them.

All of us, especially our graduates, can take enormous pride in these numbers. While this result is seen in the spreadsheets, it is felt in the lives of our students and their families.

This outcome offers yet another proof point of our relentless vision to be the nation’s best return on investment in legal education. Here are a few others that speak to that goal:

  • J.D. student debt has dropped more than 45% over the last nine years.
  • 95% of our students pass the bar exam within 12 months of graduation.
  • 100% of our first-generation college graduates and veterans receive financial assistance.
  • Last year, our students collectively contributed nearly 94,000 uncompensated service hours in clinics, externships and field placements.

Not only do these (and other) results place us in the pole position among Georgia’s law schools, they offer a national model of a truly transformational law school. As questions abound about the future of higher education, the crippling burdens of student debt and the industry disruption caused by the pandemic, this new direction reflects your law school’s commitment to provide a polestar for this national discourse.

While we justifiably celebrate these achievements, we cannot rest on them. Nor will we. Instead, we have our sights set on higher summits, captured in the following statement:

The University of Georgia School of Law will redefine what it means to be a great national public institution – offering a world-class, hands-on, purpose-driven educational experience with a pioneering commitment to accessibility and affordability.

Like all transformational change, this one will involve hard work, strategic bets, difficult tradeoffs, financial commitments, calculated risks and institutional nimbleness. In the coming months, you will hear more about our concerted efforts to define and to realize this vision.

With exhilaration about our law school’s future, I close with words of gratitude. We would not have achieved the above-described victories and could not embark on our next voyage without the contributions and investments of countless individuals:

  • Beginning with you:  our alumni, alumnae and friends. Under the leadership of Board of Visitors Chair Marlan Wilbanks (J.D.’86) and Immediate-past Chair Kathelen Amos (J.D.’82), you have supported needs like scholarships, bar prep stipends, professional attire, clinic operations, student mental health and so much more. You ensured that we never left a student behind on the field.
  • Complementing your investments, the faculty and staff at the School of Law continue to work far beyond the four corners of their job descriptions. Perhaps no one better embodies this commitment than Assistant Dean Greg Roseboro (J.D.’87), honored on this year’s Advocate cover. During a career spanning nearly 30 years, Greg has worked in virtually every department at the law school. For the last several years, he has served as director of both admissions and diversity programs. It’s safe to say there’s not a single student running around the building today whose life has not been influenced in some positive way by Greg. As he prepares to retire – and we honor him with the creation of a scholarship fund bearing his name – Greg exemplifies a culture of compassion, caring and commitment that sets this institution apart from many others.
  • Finally, heartfelt thanks go to President Jere Morehead (J.D.’80), Provost Jack Hu and the UGA Foundation Trustees led by Neal Quirk (J.D.’87). They have been unflinching allies to the School of Law as we both pursued our vision to be the nation’s best return on investment in legal education and developed our new goal to redefine what it means to be a great national public institution.

It is an exciting time at the School of Law, one brimming with opportunity. If you haven’t been to campus recently, I hope this year’s magazine offers a glimpse into the amazing work that takes place every day. Come see us (perhaps at Homecoming in October!) and, in the meantime, please accept my sincerest thanks for all you do.

With gratitude,

Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge
Dean and Talmadge Chair of Law