TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Sunday, May 12, 2019

More On The ABA Law School Employment Data

Following up on my previous posts on the new ABA law school employment data (links below):

Robert Anderson (Pepperdine), Ranking Law School Employment Outcomes by Term and Type:

In this installment, I look at the quality of employment "terms" and "types" as the ABA categorizes them. Employment "terms" are part-time versus full-time and long-term versus short-term. Employment "types" are the various types of employers, such as law firms with 501+ lawyers, solo practice, federal judicial clerkships, etc. This allows a comparison of the quality of the various categories of employment as they are reported to the ABA.

The table below shows the ranking from best outcomes to worst outcomes for the most common types and terms ...

Here are the five best outcomes under Rob's methodology:

Anderson

Robert Anderson (Pepperdine), Ranking Law Schools by "JD Advantage" Jobs:

US News treats JD Advantage jobs as being equal to Bar Passage Required Jobs. Specifically, the US News "Placement Success" category counts JD Advantage FTLT the same as Bar Passage Required FTLT, sometimes collectively and cynically called "full credit" jobs. Why are JD Advantage jobs counted the same as Bar Passage Required Jobs? Because according to the US News methodology page, "Many experts in legal education consider these real law jobs."

The JD Advantage issue is one of the most significant distortions in the US News methodology, both because it's a significant portion of the ranking and because it's so easily manipulable. I have written in the past about the fact that JD Advantage jobs tend to go along with poorer employment outcomes. As I showed in that post, schools that have higher proportions of JD Advantage jobs tend to have higher unemployment and other negative employment outcomes. Yet JD Advantage jobs are counted as "full credit" in the US News methodology, meaning that the "JD Advantage" issue is actually a pretty significant problem, at least to the extent that US News rankings on employment are considered important by prospective law students.

To put a finer point on the JD Advantage topic, I decided to "rank" law schools by the proportion of JD Advantage jobs relative to all employed graduates. The purpose of this post isn't to embarrass or "call out" any particular school, but to make the broader point about JD Advantage jobs. As a result, I decided to rank the "bottom" 30 schools in terms of JD Advantage percentage (those that have the lowest proportion of JD Advantage jobs), which I really think tend to be "better" and more transparent schools in terms of their outcomes. ... This table shows that the schools with the best employment outcomes tend to have the lowest JD Advantage employment.

Here are the ten law schools with the lowest proportion of JD Advantage jobs relative to all employed graduates:

Anderson 2

Derek Muller (Pepperdine), Overall Legal Employment for the Class of 2018 Improved Somewhat:

Despite poor, and in some cases declining, bar passage rates in many jurisdictions over the last four years, we’ve seen steady overall improvement in the market for law school graduates, and the Class of 2018 is no exception. All trends are fairly positive, even if small, and even if some of those are driven by shrinking class sizes. Below are figures for the ABA-disclosed data (excluding Puerto Rico’s three law schools).

Muller

Prior TaxProf Blog posts:

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2019/05/more-on-the-aba-law-school-employment-data-.html

Legal Education | Permalink

Comments

"we’ve seen steady overall improvement in the market for law school graduates, and the Class of 2018 is no exception."

This would be more convincing if there wasn't a chart immediately below this sentence showing that the Class of 2018 secured considerably fewer FT/LT/license-required and JDA jobs than the Class of 2012. And if you take a real-dollar look at the median NALP salaries for the Classes of 2008 and 2017, well... yikes.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | May 12, 2019 12:16:14 PM

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