Until little more than a month ago, almost all 198 ABA-accredited law schools were reporting nine-month employment rates of more than 90 percent, and it was a rare top 100 school that had a rate of less than 95 percent.It's a key number in the U.S. News ranking of law school, which puts the schools in a desperate struggle against each other, and there's so much lying that the price of honesty may be a big drop in rank.
But last month, in the wake of criticisms that these figures were literally incredible, USNWR revised its employment statistics in an effort to combat some of the legerdemain law schools engaged in, such as excluding from their calculations graduates who described themselves as unemployed but not seeking work.Amusingly, that's the way the government keeps unemployment statistics down and mostly gets away with it. What's the unemployment percentage if you throw the people who have given up back in?
Despite the U.S. News fix, there's still plenty of inaccuracy.
How many of the graduates who report doing full-time legal work have permanent jobs—in the employment law sense of permanent—as opposed to doing temp work, such as being paid $20 an hour to proofread financial documents in a warehouse, or $12 an hour to do slightly glorified secretarial tasks?What percentage of graduates have jobs that you would go to law school if you knew in advance that was the job you'd get? That's the relevant question.
Campos looked at "employment data drawn from 183 individual [National Association for Law Placement] forms, in which graduates of one top 50 school self-reported their employment status nine months after graduation," and found that "fully one-third of those graduates who report they are working in full-time jobs that require a law degree are in temporary, rather than permanent, positions." (Go to the link if you want to know how he dealt with judicial clerkships, which are temporary, but usually excellent jobs.) Counting temporary and permanent jobs, only 45% had "real legal jobs." Drop below the "top 50," and the percentages are almost certainly worse.