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Friday, July 8, 2016

Law Grad Employment Rose At 158 Law Schools Over Past Five Years

National JuristNational Jurist: Employment on the Rise, by Katie Thisdell:

Five law schools [Pace, BU, Hofstra, St. John's, Drexel] have improved their employment rates by an average of 5 percent or more during the past five years. ... Thirty-four law schools saw upward trends of 3 percent or more over this period. Of the 199 schools with more than three years worth of employment data analyzed, the vast majority had a positive trend line, even if just slight. Fifty-two schools saw less than a 1 percent increase over this time period.

Meanwhile, 41 schools saw an overall drop in their employment rates for the five-year period. Four had a downward trend greater than 4 percent, and three of those were in Texas — St. Mary’s University, South Texas College of Law and Texas Southern University.

In its employment rate formula, National Jurist assigns specific "weights" to different job types, effectively valuing some jobs more than others. Full time, long term jobs that require bar passage are the only positions that are given full weight. All other jobs are assigned less weight as follows: assigned less weight as follows:

  • Bar Passage Required: Full-time, Long Term is counted at 100%
  • Bar Passage Required: Full-time, Short Term 70%
  • JD Advantage: Full-time, Long Term 70%
  • Professional position: Full-time, Long Term 60%
  • Bar Passage Required: Part-time, Long Term 50%
  • JD Advantage: Part-time, Long Term 40%
  • JD Advantage: Full-time, Short Term 40%
  • Bar Passage Required: Part-Time, Short Term 30%
  • Professional position: Part-time, Long Term 30%
  • Professional position: Full-time, Short Term 30%
  • JD Advantage: Part-Time, Short Term 10%
  • Non-Professional position: Full-time, Long Term 10%
  • All other categories received no value.

Law School Rankings, Legal Education | Permalink


This is an interesting study, as it assigns weights to different employment outcomes to control for employment quality. It also controls for the enrollment decline by including the number of students in the denominator.

I believe the data support the narrative that in the before times, there were too many law students saturating the employment pool.

I wish the study included a variable to control for "total national matriculation in year N minus 3".

Second, how can almost 50 schools have seen a negative employment trend since 2011?

Third, I expect the ethically challenged To misrepresent this to newbie rubes in marketing come-ons.

Posted by: Jojo | Jul 8, 2016 4:20:03 AM

I can't wait for the usual suspects to start pullulating here and trying to create a negative spin on this latest news. Don't disappoint me, whiners!

Posted by: Rob T. | Jul 8, 2016 4:21:09 AM

@ Rob T,

Hahaha, you've got to be kidding. Since the single greatest downturn in law grad employment prospects, only 5 schools (FIVE!) have seen an increase in legal hiring of 5% or more. The rest are of the pack have essentially flatlined at recession levels.

You are supposed to, you know, RECOVER from a recession.

Posted by: JM | Jul 8, 2016 7:18:33 AM

"In the denominator, this formula addresses graduates who are not looking for work for one reason (to pursue further education), but it does not account for graduates who are out of the workforce for other reasons—e.g. unemployed graduates not seeking employment, and graduates not seeking employment because they have a deferred offer. "

How convenient for law schools where 1/3 of the graduating class is still unemployed ten months after graduation, now firmly planted among the ranks of the long-term unemployed...

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jul 8, 2016 7:31:49 AM

I learned that my alma mater has worked out deals with local smaller law firms to take graduates for 1 year and the firm pays them around 45k with no benefits, and no obligation to continue to employ them after that period.

These jobs are reported as full time long term JD required jobs that a reasonable person would assume are indefinite. The ABA needs to revise its standards so that jobs with no finite term (i.e., traditional indefinite employment) are separately identified and disclosed (and these should be given the most weight in the rankings). While i somewhat get the reasoning in giving clerkships that last a year full weight, law schools have already found a way to exploit the 1 year rule with "jobs" that are not truly long term (indefinite). These jobs (internships) are great if folks get experience, but they need to be separately disclosed as not truly indefinite jobs with benefits in the sense most people would assume they are under the current reporting regime...

Posted by: Anon | Jul 8, 2016 7:35:53 AM

Come on Rob T. Your law school had 69 "JD Advantage Jobs" in 2015. Does this look like a strong market to you?

Posted by: bjce | Jul 8, 2016 9:43:28 AM

@ All the Usual Suspects:

Thanks for not disappointing me, and also for proving that Pavlov's theories remain valid.

Posted by: Rob T. | Jul 8, 2016 2:08:20 PM

Tell me if I've missed something, but I would think a 1-year small-firm placement that pays $45K should count as a job, so long as the grad was doing real legal work and the law school were not funding it. Your alma mater actually appears to be working to get its grads out working in the legal field.

Posted by: Old Ruster from JD Junkyard | Jul 8, 2016 3:17:50 PM

Hi Rob T.

Captain Whiner Carswell here:

This is not data to cheer. Employment may have gone up a percentage or two, but when you look at the big picture and talk to any practicing lawyer, underemployment and unemployment in the legal profession is at unacceptable levels. Solos and small firms are fighting for any scrap of work, fees and new clients. Governments are not replacing nor hiring attorneys. It is brutal. I will put you in touch with my buddy out over 25 years from a T-1 school who is unemployed. Those are the facts on the ground....

Posted by: Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King | Jul 8, 2016 5:37:23 PM

Old Ruster,

Agree 100%. My point is that these jobs should be disclosed as not permanent, vs. ones that are. Currently there is no way to tell under the current reporting. If school A reports 75% employed in full time long term jd required jobs, and school B does the same, but all 75% of school B's jobs are actual permanent associate jobs with benefits (i.e. real jobs in the traditional sense), versus school A's 75% consisting of 25% of these temporary internships, I'd like to know that, and might favor attending B over A for that reason. Full disclosure and transparency in employment results are crucial given the high debt associated with attending law school.

Posted by: Anon | Jul 8, 2016 10:17:04 PM

Just noting that these are percentage growth rates PER YEAR. I'll leave it to commenters to argue whether this is good, enough, accurate based on deals, etc.. But one thing it is not is flat. It means that a 50% rate is now 63% rate - that's an absolute gain of 13% and a percentage gain of 26%. As a comparison, the US job growth rate, which has been going like gangbusters the last five years, is at about 2.5% - 3% per year, as far as I can tell.

Posted by: Michael Risch | Jul 9, 2016 11:25:19 AM

@ Captain Hruska Carswell:

The problem isn't whining, per se, but the entirely predictable Pavlovian reactions and complete imperviousness to any facts that counter the victimology narrative.

Posted by: Rob T. | Jul 9, 2016 11:50:53 AM

@Rob T.,

By Pavlovian, I presume you mean how you arrived in this thread before nearly anyone else to preemptively complain about the so-called "complainers." Optics...

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jul 9, 2016 12:29:35 PM

@ UNE:

Actually, in Pavlovian parlance, it's called "ringing the bell". And notice the results.

Posted by: Rob T. | Jul 9, 2016 12:56:58 PM

You mean how you had already posted your obligatory "wah, scambloggers vex me" post before I had even turned on my computer that morning? Yes, I did notice that.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jul 9, 2016 2:48:29 PM