I'm not trying to be rude, I apologize. I'm not bitter, I'm just tired of hearing that a JD should entitle one to ANYTHING. It doesn't, there is no certainty, and I am giving up my current career in order to go into more debt and not be assured of ANYTHING (but being overqualified for the job I have now). Oh, but I'm only going for scholarships, to hell with prestige. These risks are part of following any dream.
I have read so many blogs, threads, etc. on the internet from JDs who are alarmed at the falling cost of legal services, etc. I have reached a point where I think "did you honestly think that a degree alone would guarantee you against ever having to struggle financially?" Well, yes, yes they did. And it is a shame that they took out $200K in debt, but it has a ring of entitlement about it that has started to annoy the heck out of me. So once again, apologies.
I understand the entitlement concerns, and you might be comforted to know that at least one law school dean has railed against the same people you're upset with on the grounds that students shouldn't be entitled to jobs (see here: http://blog.nj.com/njv_guest_blog/2010/ ... _educ.html
). But the issue isn't whether law students deserve jobs or have a right to be upset when they come up short; it's whether they deserve to know what the job market looks like before they decide to enroll, and whether they have a right to be upset when the law school misled them into taking on all that debt. In the same op ed Dean Farmer also argued that a JD gives people freedom, which follows from his entitlement argument. But fooling people into taking on non-dischargeable debt by portraying the job market as viable hardly sounds like freedom.
Look at how Farmer's school (Rutgers-Newark) portrays the job stats (see here: --LinkRemoved--). They advertise an average starting salary of $128,000 for the 42.7% of employed 2009 grads who went into private practice, and an even higher average ($146,000) for the 16.8% going into Business/Industry. Doing some very rough math and discounting to count unemployed grads (which the school conveniently left out), this means that slightly more than half the class (55%) apparently made about $135,000 on average. This is pretty amazing for a regional law school, even back in 2009 when hiring was at its peak. The introduction also states "By February 2010, 241 of the 243 members of the Class of 2009 reported their employment status to the Office of Career Services." So the data presumably comes from all but 2 graduates, meaning these averages must be real, right? Unfortunately for Farmer and others defending schools on the grounds that they are educating people to enter the most honorable of all professions, schools left to themselves are pulling all sorts of tactics to mislead you.
It is reasonable for prospectives to assume, based on the way Rutgers-Newark presents its data, that "employment status" must include starting salaries. The only way it doesn't become reasonable is if prospectives suspect that law schools can actually lie about job stats, or that schools can label a salary as average when it actually only represents a small percentage of the graduates in a particular sector. Because Rutgers-Newark conveniently decided to hide the fact that not everyone reported salaries along with employment status, many graduates will have no idea that these salaries are not true averages. You have to wait until the ABA and USNews make that data public in a few months if you want a better idea of how many 09 grads are represented by the salary data.
In the meantime, you can go back and check out the 08 data here --LinkRemoved--. Just 71% of private sector grads reported salaries that year, while just 30.5% of the class actually made $95K or higher. This is a lot different than the what the school is advertising on its website. You could also surmise that the percentages for '10 grads were perhaps half what they were back in '08, which is reasonable for a risk-averse applicant absent better information from the school. Now we begin to see some real disparities between the likely job outcomes and what the school advertises. Thinking that less than 15% of grads are able to make 95K or better is far more discouraging than thinking that half the class makes $125K on average, at least for non-scholarship applicants weighing the expected debt burden they will likely face.
If the data represented by the law schools were a fair interpretation of the job market back n 2009, then I could see you arguing "buyer beware." People can and should be researching the job market at large to adjust these figures down and get a more realistic picture of what they are likely to face in terms of risk. But while you may not like the fact that recent JD grads are angry and claiming they were lied to by their alma maters, they are at least trying to issue warnings that schools otherwise refuse to do. When the Dean of Rutgers-Newark permits his admissions team to significantly overstate the value of the school and at the same time claims that the people upset with their job prospects have noone to blame but themselves, it becomes apparent that his actions are harming the country's future lawyers rather than helping them. One of the biggest problems we've encountered in lobbying for reform is getting law school administrators to admit their failures and take action on their own to fix it. As a result, we're now working with the ABA and a few individual administrators who recognize what's going on and are committed to turning things around. In the meantime I strongly recommend anyone applying this cycle should contact the career services offices once you're accepted and request to see full employer lists for the Class of 2010. As I mentioned before, they'll have the data ready in another month or two.