Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chicago, Yale Release Detailed Placement Data. Will Other Law Schools Follow?

Law School Transparency this morning sent this letter to the deans of all ABA-approved law schools requesting that they provide detailed employment information for the class of 2010:

Our goal is to provide thorough and comparable employment information to prospective law students. While some law schools are improving the quality of information they share, it is critical that people be able to compare law schools through a standardized presentation standard.

It is true that the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has taken important first steps towards reducing the provision of misleading information by law schools. However, these steps have failed to include critical information about the class of 2010, including the rate of graduates employed in legal jobs and the rate of graduates employed in full-time jobs. The section underestimated how prospective law students, pundits, and elected officials would react, despite mounting evidence of widespread consumer-disoriented behavior at law schools and within the section.

We hope that schools share our sense of urgency and help us put comparable employment information into the hands of consumers.

Above the Law reports today that Chicago and Yale have released detailed employment data on the Classes of 2008-2010:

But will other law schools join Chicago and Yale in providing such in-depth reporting on graduate employment outcomes? That’s the $64,000 — or $150,000, given the cost of law school these days — question.

For schools that consider themselves to be peers or competitors of Yale and Chicago, this is a no-brainer: they should report graduate job data in at least as detailed and as granular a fashion. If they don’t, students choosing between them and schools like Yale and Chicago should feel free to draw an adverse inference from silence. It’s fair for a prospective law student to ask, “You say your graduates do so well in the job market; why aren’t you willing to give me the data to support your claims?”

The far more difficult problem is getting schools a bit farther down in the rankings to report at this level. But as we know from, say, the Biglaw bonus market, the legal profession is marked by a considerable amount of lemming-like behavior in pursuit of prestige. Why can’t this (completely human and understandable) desire to swim with the big fish, which works so effectively in the law firm compensation market, be harnessed in service of law school transparency?

To the deans of top 15 — or top 25, or top 50, or top 100 — law schools: Yale and Chicago can handle the truth. Can your school?

Update: Davi Yellen (Dean, Loyola-Chicago):

Regarding your posts today, I think its great that Chicago and Yale are doing this. But I just wanted to mention that we have been posting similar data for a couple of years now. Our data is a bit more complete in terms of showing salary ranges within each type of law firm. A number of other schools have also been doing similar things. The good news is that all of these schools are doing more or less what the ABA is likely to soon require of all schools, without any real difficulty.

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How unbelievably courageous of YALE and CHICAGO to expose themselves like that! Amazing!

Posted by: LH | Dec 15, 2011 1:01:12 AM