In order to better serve Law Center alumni and students, the University of Houston Law Foundation and UH Law Alumni Association, conducted the first alumni survey to compare results with benchmarks and comparable results from other law schools. The survey asked what alums consider most important in forming their opinion of how the school is doing; what role they should play for their alma mater and vice versa; how they rate their law school experience; their attitude toward giving; and how they are using their degree.
Responses from 700 alums allowed a comparison with a group of comparable law schools to see how opinions are similar and different, and to help gauge performance. “Our 9.8 percent electronic survey response rate is on par with other law school alumni and helps provide a comfortable level of confidence in our survey results, even as findings are analyzed for specific alumni age groups and segments,” said Tom Troegel, director of major gifts. The Law Center survey compared results from the University of Southern California, Cornell, Drake, Emory, George Washington, Indiana, Santa Clara, and Tulane.
Alumni expressed an underlying theme of “value and respect for the UHLC degree” in formulating their overall opinion of the Law Center. Of highest importance were “rankings,” such as those compiled by U.S. News & World Report and other publications and organizations, followed closely by “accomplishments of alumni, faculty, and students.” “Law school building and equipment” ranked fifth in importance of the 13 issues most often used by alumni as they form their opinion of their law school alma mater.
Respondents across all age groups indicated the most important role they and the school’s support services could provide is “finding jobs for graduating students.” The Law Center’s performance in this area was rated higher than that given by alumni of the other law schools.
The second most important issue was “serving as ambassadors promoting UHLC to others,” followed closely by “helping alumni find jobs.” Ranked fourth, “mentoring students” is receiving strong programming support from the Law Alumni Association and Law Center. “Providing financial support” for the Law Center was next in importance and, unlike alumni at other law schools, our alumni felt the Law Center could do more to improve fund development.
Of the 13 issues alumni were asked to consider, two of the top seven involved opportunities for alumni to become involved with the Law Center in a meaningful way. “Providing leadership by serving on boards, committees, etc.,” ranked seventh in importance, preceded by “networking with other alumni.”
When compared to alumni from other law schools, UHLC alumni were more likely to recommend the Law Center to others 23 percent to 16 percent. Despite this sign of support, Law Center alumni rated their “experience as a student” lower than graduates of the other schools. Slightly more than 80 percent of Law Center alumni rated their student experience as “good” or “excellent” compared to 87 percent of comparable alumni.
Looking back to their time as a student, the top two issues were “academics and classes” and “quality of faculty.” Next in importance were acquiring the requisite “skills and training” to begin their careers followed closely by being “treated with respect.”
When asked about the Law Center’s performance in these and other areas, alumni showed a clear preference for additional emphasis on “skills and training for career” and “quality of Law Center facilities.” Not surprisingly, younger alumni are most concerned about the condition of Law Center facilities.
Overall, alumni described a common set of values when evaluating their student experience. These values would form a “supportive community and culture” that:
Alumni indicated the Law Center’s rankings would most influence their decision to support the school financially.
Finally, the survey found approximately 64 percent of Law Center alumni are practicing law, with almost 40 percent of them employed by firms with fewer than 10 employees, including sole practitioners. The remaining alumni are fairly evenly divided among firms with 10 to 100 attorneys, firms with more than 100 attorneys, the public sector, and inside counsel.
For more information on the alumni survey, contact Tom Troegel, Director of Major Gifts, at TFTroege@uh.edu or 713.743.2207.