April 25, 2011

"How law schools completely misrepresent their job numbers."

Lawprof Paul Campos in The New Republic:
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.

21 comments:

The Drill SGT said...

What?

Lawyers lie?

Tell me it isn't so.

The Crack Emcee said...

Lying is a way of life now - is accepting it?

MadisonMan said...

I am reminded of the old joke:

How can you tell that a lawyer is lying?

Their lips are moving.

Kevin said...

This cries out for a massive class action suit...

Joe said...

This needs to be expanded to "How colleges, especially graduate programs, misrepresent their job numbers."

PhDs and MBAs, especially, are a scam.

MadisonMan said...

I think a better question would be: How do the very best graduates in the program do? If you work very hard and graduate at the top of your class, will you find a good job?

It's not surprising that a person who coasts through Law School might not find a good job at the end. I don't think anyone -- even the incoming students -- would find that surprising. It would surprise me if the top performers in a law school -- or in a business school, or a PhD program -- are not finding work.

In other words -- how well to very hard work and success correlate with a good job at the end of the program?

D. R. said...

I know of three law schools that are paying nonprofits to "employ" students part-time for the 90-120 days needed to report the rankings. Nice "job."

Ut said...

"legerdermain ..."

They mean lying, right?

If you lay down with snakes, don't complain about getting slimed.

Ut said...

"This cries out for a massive class action suit..."

What attorney would commit professional suicide in such a manner? He'd never work again.

Follow the money: Billions are changing hands every year. You think they're just going to let that money sit on the table?

Harvard has an endowment over $30 billion. To put that amount into perspective ... it is about the same as the annual GDP of our president's homeland - Kenya.

vbspurs said...

- All lawyers lie.

- Good lawyers lie and make a lot of money.

- The best lawyers get their own TV programmes.

- The worst lawyers become President.

Cheers,
Victoria

Carol_Herman said...

"Some" lawyers (like great salesmen, too). Make loads of money. That's why you don't see them wearing judicial robes.

And, that's why the political stinkers with "associations" to the politicians who 'select' (or 'nominate') judges ... have connections like those bred in the mafia. Going back generations.

Can there be a tipping point? Why not? What if an INDEPENDENT actually gets elected to the Presidency?

What if it turns out "Obama" wasn't his given name at birth? (His mom was all of 17 when she got pregnant. Not likely that she could even find Kenya on the map!)

Oh, and most likely kids of 17 start having sex "before" they are dating. It can happen in the back seat of a car! (Of course, not any longer. Today's cars aren't known for roomy back seats.) But back in 1965? Roomy back seats. And, lots of chrome detailing.

What can happen ahead? Oh, well. I can see "legal issues" lasting 100 years. Or? The democraps "disband" ... the way the old WHIGS did. When Henry Clay went "one bridge too far."

I think, meanwhile "Obama" has set records on all the things he got wrong.

Will law schools settle this?

Nah. Not anytime soon.

Lyssa Lovely Redhead said...

Mad Man asked about the top performers. Although my sample size is one, I think he's thinking along the right lines. I was 7th in my class, at a good (mid-level school), hard worker, if anyone's ever complained about my work, they haven't told me. Now, it's true, I've never been "unemployed"- I'd meet the school's goals just fine. But I have not found good, promising work, not by a long shot.

t-man said...

All I know is that we've been interviewing top-20% 3L's from an out-of-state top-ten law school, who are desperate to find a position as a starting associate. In the past, these students would not have looked outside of New York, Washington or Boston, and would have had their pick of jobs.

Summer associate positions, which historically have helped these students reduce their debt, have also vanished.

traditionalguy said...

Lawyers are needed to protect our individual property rights under a capitalist economic system. Apparently that is not needed anymore.

adam said...

The Obama Admin recently proposed cutting aid to "for profit" schools with the following rationale:

"While most education companies provide valuable training and skills, high-cost education programs that lead to low-wage jobs are harming students, leaving them with hard-to-pay debts"

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-07-23/obama-cracks-down-on-for-profit-colleges-links-u-s-student-aid-to-income.html

Time to do the same for law schools?

Rob said...

Accurate employment and compensation numbers are important for the entire graduating class. Almost everyone who enters law school did well in undergrad. Only a few can be at the top of the class. For instance, the top students at my third tier school still went to big firms with $150K + compensation. Nobody is arguing that they don't get their money's worth. Accurate statistics and raw data are more useful for the students outside the top 5 % to help make rational financial decisions about investment in law school education. Additionally that information can be very valuable to first years after they realize that they will not be in the top of the class, so that they can determine the value of their continued education.

Almost Ali said...

...such as excluding from their calculations graduates who described themselves as unemployed but not seeking work.

If they look closely, the "not seeking" category is essentially filled with women. Who had no business going to law school in the first place.

And we haven't even factored in Affirmative Actors, who come in second in the not-seeking category.

selenite said...

Reporting median salary would be more useful.

Craig said...

Do you really need a law degree to practice house husbandry?

JorgXMcKie said...

"Lawyers are needed to protect our individual property rights under a capitalist economic system."

Now, that's funny right there.

"Almost everyone who enters law school did well in undergrad."

Well, if you mean they got high GPAs, perhaps. If you mean they learned enough to score well on the LSAT, not so much.

Of the actual very good students I've had who have graduated from law school in the past 2-3 years, a common complaint is no employment or underemployment [as lawyers].

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