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Thursday, April 10, 2014

ABA Releases 'Bleak' Jobs Data for 2013 Law School Grads

ABA Logo 2Press Release, ABA Releases Class of 2013 Law Graduate Employment Data:

The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar today released data on law graduate employment outcomes for the class of 2013. The data covers the employment status of the 2013 graduates of ABA-approved law schools as of Feb. 15, 2014, approximately nine months after spring 2013 graduation.

Law schools reported that 57% of graduates of the class of 2013 were employed in long-term, full-time positions where bar passage was required, compared with 56.2% for the class of 2012. In addition, 10.1% of graduates of the class of 2013 were employed in long-term, full-time positions where holding a J.D. provides an advantage in obtaining or performing the job, compared with 9.5% for the class of 2012.

Schools reported outcomes for 97.7% of their 2013 graduates. The size of the 2013 graduating class was the largest ever at 46,776, slightly larger than the 2012 class of 46,364. The data show both more jobs and a slightly higher percentage of graduates obtaining jobs in which a J.D. was required or considered relevant.

The ABA released this chart with aggregate data breakdowns and comparisons to the previous year, along with definitions of the various categories:

ABA Chart_Page_1

The ABA also released individual pdfs for each of the ABA-approved law schools, as well as a spreadsheet with all of the data for each of the schools.

Law School Transparency, New Law School Jobs Data Indicate Flat Entry-Level Legal Market:

The national full-time, long-term legal rate is 57.0%.

  • By definition these jobs:
    • require bar passage or are judicial clerkships; and
    • require 35+ hours per week and have an expected duration of at least one year.
  • At 64 law schools (31.8%), 50% of graduates or less had these legal jobs.
    • 33 schools (16.4%) had 40% or less;
    • 13 schools (6.5%) had 33% or less.
  • 103 schools (51.2%) exceeded the national rate of 57.0%.
    • 51 schools (25.4%) had 66% or more;
    • 21 schools (10.4%) had 75% or more;
    • 5 schools (2.5%) had 90% or more.

The national full-time, long-term legal rate, excluding jobs funded by law schools, is 55.3%.

  • The richest schools were able to hire their struggling graduates full time and long term; only 18 schools (9.0%) paid 5.0% or more of their graduates for long-term, full-time jobs that required bar passage.
    • 50% of these schools (9) were in the top 20 on the full-time, long-term rate without the benefit of the school-funded jobs; including school-funded jobs in the rate puts 67% of those schools (12) in the top 20.
    • Excluding school-funded jobs from the full-time, long-term legal rate caused all 5 schools over 90% to drop below that threshold.
  • Although the absolute number of full-time, long-term legal jobs funded by schools was relatively small (775, 2.0% of all employed graduates), there were 50% more of these jobs this year compared to last year.

Law School Transparency also released individual profiles of each law school, as well as sortable rankings for all law schools by various categories, including its "employment score" (full-time, long-term, bar passage-required jobs, excluding self-employed solo practitioners).

Matt Leichter ranks all 201 law schools by full-time, long-term, bar passage-required jobs, excluding law school-funded jobs.  Here are the Top 50, along with each school's U.S. News Ranking:

Percent Employed Full-Time/Long-Term Bar Passage-Required Jobs (Excluding Law-School-Funded Jobs)
 Law School (US News Rank)20122013Change
1 COLUMBIA (4) 85.3% 88.3% 3.0%
2 CHICAGO (4) 87.0% 86.5% -0.5%
3 NEW YORK UNIVERSITY (6) 79.0% 86.2% 7.2%
4 PENNSYLVANIA (7) 91.9% 85.7% -6.1%
5 DUKE (10) 84.9% 85.1% 0.2%
6 STANFORD (3) 89.0% 85.1% -3.9%
7 HARVARD (2) 84.6% 84.9% 0.4%
8 CORNELL (13) 85.3% 81.3% -3.9%
9 MICHIGAN (10) 81.7% 81.2% -0.5%
10 VIRGINIA (8) 79.7% 79.7% 0.0%
11 UC-BERKELEY (9) 85.9% 78.4% -7.5%
12 VANDERBILT (16) 71.4% 78.2% 6.7%
13 NORTHWESTERN (12) 75.9% 77.5% 1.5%
14 IOWA (27) 71.4% 76.3% 5.0%
15 TEXAS (15) 75.3% 75.1% -0.2%
16 KENTUCKY (58) 74.1% 74.4% 0.3%
17 YALE (1) 77.0% 74.4% -2.6%
18 NEW MEXICO (72) 67.2% 73.7% 6.5%
19 GEORGETOWN (13) 66.8% 72.4% 5.6%
20 SOUTHERN ILLINOIS (Tier 2) 52.3% 72.1% 19.7%
21 ALABAMA (23) 77.3% 71.7% -5.6%
22 SMU (42) 75.1% 70.9% -4.2%
23 NOTRE DAME (26) 65.3% 70.7% 5.3%
24 BAYLOR (51) 67.1% 70.5% 3.4%
25 FLORIDA STATE (45) 66.4% 69.6% 3.2%
26 NEW HAMPSHIRE (93) 60.9% 69.2% 8.3%
27 MONTANA (121) 61.0% 69.1% 8.2%
28 SETON HALL (68) 65.8% 68.9% 3.1%
29 GEORGIA (29) 69.4% 68.4% -1.1%
30 MINNESOTA (20) 64.3% 68.2% 3.9%
31 SOUTH CAROLINA (93) 70.4% 68.2% -2.2%
32 ARKANSAS, FAYETTEVILLE (61) 70.5% 68.2% -2.3%
33 NORTH CAROLINA (31) 67.6% 68.1% 0.6%
34 UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON (24) 68.0% 67.8% -0.2%
35 LSU (72) 76.7% 67.4% -9.3%
36 WYOMING (129) 56.0% 67.1% 11.1%
37 COLORADO (43) 51.4% 67.0% 15.6%
38 SOUTH TEXAS (146) 71.4% 67.0% -4.4%
39 OHIO NORTHERN (Tier 2) 59.4% 66.7% 7.3%
40 UCLA (16) 70.0% 66.6% -3.4%
41 OKLAHOMA CITY (Tier 2) 53.6% 66.5% 12.8%
42 FLORIDA (49) 56.8% 66.4% 9.6%
43 OKLAHOMA (58) 66.5% 66.3% -0.2%
44 NEBRASKA (54) 65.6% 66.1% 0.5%
45 WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY (18) 67.0% 66.0% -1.0%
46 MERCER (104) 72.5% 65.6% -6.9%
47 UC-DAVIS (36) 60.9% 65.3% 4.4%
48 TENNESSEE (72) 65.2% 65.3% 0.1%
49 LOUISVILLE (87) 66.9% 64.8% -2.1%
50 BYU (36) 63.3% 64.6% 1.4%

Seventeen schools ranked in the Top 50 by U.S. News are ranked outside the Top 50 for full-time, long-term, bar passage-required jobs, excluding law school-funded jobs:

Employment Rank

Law School

US News Rank

51

Indiana-Bloomington

29

56

Boston College

36

60

Utah

49

61

Fordham

36

62

George Washington

20

63

Emory

19

73

Arizona State

31

76

Boston University

27

80

USC

20

81

Ohio State

31

84

Wisconsin

31

94

Arizona

40

95

Wake Forest

31

100

Washington & Lee

43

102

William & Mary

24

125

Tulane

46

144

Maryland

46

Press and blogosphere coverage:

Update

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2014/04/aba-releases-.html

Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink

Comments

Southern New England be hurting:

BC: 64%
BU: 61.2%
Northeastern: 45.8% (yet implausibly claims in the Alumni Magazine that 40% of grads get legal job offers from a co-op)
UCONN: 42%
Roger Williams: 41.7%
New England Law O'Brien: 40.1%
Suffolk: 36.9%
Western New England: 36.8%
Quinnipiac: 34.5%
UMASS: 25.2%

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Apr 10, 2014 6:39:02 AM

The 57% F/T employed JD required statistic still does not present an accurate picture of the employment situation.

The 57% F/T employed JD required statistic is inflated because it includes grads who go solo right after graduating as F/T employed when in reality the vast majority of these grads are not going to have a steady stream of income. At my law school, about 10% of grads who were counted as F/T employed were working in "solo" law firms. I know that most of these people do not want to go solo and have very unreliable sources income. It takes time to build a practice.

The vast majority of people who are starting their own firm right out of law school are doing so because they have no other choice, not because they have a steady book of business.

Posted by: 2012 Law Grad Still Looking | Apr 10, 2014 7:38:47 AM

I think it's particularly significant that the number of employed by the school positions increased by half. I also wonder about how well checked the reported data from the schools is. Do the schools report granular data (i.e., x student got y job at z place) or only categories and numbers?

Posted by: Former Editor | Apr 10, 2014 7:58:08 AM

This is not as concerning as the commenter's indicate:

http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2014/04/1-intro-enroll-today.html

Posted by: Stan | Apr 10, 2014 10:51:53 AM

I confess some confusion as to why these metrics continually exclude full-time, long-term, "J.D. advantage" positions. To the extent these metrics attempt to capture "meaningful" employment, they're ignoring a large category of jobs that, according to NALP, generate solid salaries (indeed, J.D. advantage positions had a higher median in government jobs, and a comparable median in business jobs, as bar passage-required positions), and that many law students happily pursue. The ABA guidance on the position is specific; it includes ADR specialists, FBI agents, accountants, consulting, and investment banking. Companies like Bain and McKinsey recruit at Harvard Law; indeed, Harvard boasted 44 of these positions last time, which these metrics decided to exclude.
So I guess I don't know why they're excluded. I suppose one could claim that people who go to law school in general want to practice law, but that's certainly not the case for everyone, and it seems odd to include these graduates in the denominator but exclude them from the numerator if there's a selection issue. Further, it undermines the point that folks like Professor Bill Henderson and others have been raising for years: legal education cannot solely focus on "bar passage-required" positions, because the nature of legal services is changing, and legal education needs to adapt to educate and train for a variety of fields. The decision in the links listed above to exclude 4700 full-time, long-term jobs that were obtained largely because of the J.D. is, in my view, curious. It suggests an interest in depressing employment statistics over aggregating meaningful employment outcomes.

Posted by: Derek Muller | Apr 11, 2014 7:43:44 AM

There is a pretty wide range of jobs that constitute "JD Advantage."

I have classmates who are waiting tables and working as clerks at bookstores. I'm sure having a JD was an "advantage," but let's be honest, it's not much of one, and it's not the same as working at Bain or McKinsey.

Posted by: 2012 Law Grad Still Looking | Apr 11, 2014 8:41:07 AM

"I express some confusion"

What confusion? At schools where the overwhelming number of students can get jobs as FT lawyers they do so. At schools where they can't, the JD Advantage number is much higher. It doesn't take a genius to figure out what most students prefer.

Michigan Law has posted an extraordinarily detailed list of graduate employment outcomes.

http://www.law.umich.edu/careers/classstats/Pages/employerstats.aspx

There is nothing stopping schools with a large JD Advantage cohort from doing the same thing, the data is already there. The reason is that any breakdown of the data that is not horribly misleading (hey there's this one graduate we remember who went back to his I-banking analyst job at Goldman!) would quickly reveal that most of these jobs are not the kind that prospective law students went to school to get and perhaps aren't even "JD Advantage" jobs except in the loosest sense of the word.

Posted by: BoredJD | Apr 11, 2014 11:57:59 AM

'JDAdvantage' jobs are just junk pushed by the law schools that no person starting a law degree actually wants. They are dressing up failure as success.

Law professors and law faculty staff should be ashamed.

Posted by: Hoxton | Apr 13, 2014 8:54:46 PM

I think a number of JD advantaged jobs are actually very reliant on past work experience and undergrad degree. For example, a law degree/LLM might open some doors in Big Four, but an accounting degree and CPA distinction probably opens the same if not more doors at a significant difference in cost. So these JD advantaged jobs should only count if the JD was the overriding factor in having that opportunity, not just an plus on top of the actual requirements.

Posted by: Daniel W. | Apr 14, 2014 8:44:22 AM

It's also worth noting that the "law firm" category allows schools to report any type of job with a firm employing that number of lawyers within the ABA instructions. This expressly includes "librarian, paralegal, and clerical position."

Posted by: Former Editor | Apr 14, 2014 11:38:50 AM

Hey, Daniel W., let's go further. Let's only count the JD-advantage jobs if 10 bishops are willing to swear on a stack of bibles that the JD was the one and only determining factor in hiring. Let's also do brain scans on them to be sure they're not lying.

Posted by: John D. | Apr 18, 2014 11:51:50 AM

@John D.,

Law schools only have themselves to blame for the lack of trust that people now give to them. Years of systematic, misleading-to-fraudulent statements regarding employment outcomes and salaries tend to do that.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Apr 19, 2014 7:13:27 AM