Tuesday, April 26, 2011
This month, thousands of ambitious young people are asking themselves the same question: Does it make sense to invest $100,000 to $250,000, and the next three years of my life, to become officially qualified to work as a lawyer? For most people considering law school, this question is hardly an easy one. Law schools, however, make it much harder than it needs to be by publishing misleading data about their employment statistics. Many law schools all but explicitly promise that, within a few months of graduation, practically all their graduates will obtain jobs as lawyers, by trumpeting employment figures of 95%, 97%, and even 99.8%. The truth is that less than half will. ...
I used employment data drawn from 183 individual NALP forms, in which graduates of one top 50 school self-reported their employment status nine months after graduation. This data suggests 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. ...
When we take temporary employment into account, it appears that approximately 45 percent of 2010 graduates of this particular top-50 law school had real legal jobs nine months after graduation. And the overall number is likely lower, since it seems probable that the temporary employment figures for the graduates of almost any top 50 school would be better than the average outcome for the graduates of the 198 ABA-accredited law schools as a whole.
Even this grim figure, however, may be unduly optimistic. All these statistics are based on self-reporting, and neither law schools nor NALP audit the data they publish. In the course of my research, I audited a representative sample of individual graduate responses and found several instances of people describing themselves as employed permanently or full-time, when in fact they had temporary or part-time jobs. ...
All of this suggests the extent to which prospective law students need more and better information. Of course, such information will make law school look like a far worse investment than it does at present. Still, if we assume that the point of academic work is to reveal the truth, rather than to engage in the defense of a professional cartel from which law professors benefit more than almost anyone else, then this work needs to be done.
- Althouse, How Law Schools Completely Misrepresent Their Job Numbers
- The Atlantic: Prediction: A Lot of Law Schools Are Going to Disappear
- The New Republic, The Law School Bubble
- Slate, Law of Averages Why the Law-School Bubble Is Bursting