WSJ: "Job Prospects for Law Grads? The Jury's Out"

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WSJ: "Job Prospects for Law Grads? The Jury's Out"

Postby barrotmartin » Mon Mar 26, 2012 2:03 pm

This is old news for TLS, but in case anyone needs the likes of the WSJ to back you up. Graph on the original page linked below. From last week:

"Job Prospects for Law Grads? The Jury's Out"

Law students, lawsuits and law schools' own accrediting body have shed light on a troubling truth for freshly minted legal graduates: Some of the numbers about their predecessors' employment and pay are suspect.

Since the mid-1980s, law schools have surveyed their recent graduates on how they made out in the job market, then reported the results. For many schools, the numbers were surprisingly rosy: employment rates above 90% and starting salaries in the six figures. The data have appeared on schools' websites, in magazines' law-school rankings and in marketing materials aimed at prospective students.

But the numbers aren't what they seem, say some recent graduates, a few of whom have joined lawsuits against their alma maters for allegedly misrepresenting their job prospects. The employment figures include part-time positions, short-term work and jobs for which a juris doctor, or law-school degree, wasn't a requirement or even a help—details not mentioned in many schools' reports. And the salary numbers exclude some alumni who aren't willing to report their wages, a group many believe earns less than those who do disclose their salaries.

Law schools have responded in several ways. One is to no longer include salary data in their reports to the American Bar Association's Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which accredits the schools. Employment reports that schools had to submit this week to the section for the first time excluded salary data.

"We no longer are requiring law schools to report that to us," Amy Rotenberg, a spokeswoman for the ABA's section, said of the salary data. "It is very difficult to obtain [salary information] and when it is obtained it is often distorted."

Schools also will be required to publish far more detailed employment data than in previous years, breaking down, for instance, how many of the jobs are full-time and how many require passage of the bar exam.

Meanwhile, more than a dozen schools have been sued, mostly in state courts, by graduates saying they were misled. The lawyers who filed most of the suits said Wednesday they were seeking plaintiffs for 20 more schools.

Law-School Jobs Data Under Review

Many of the targeted schools declined to comment or didn't respond to requests for comment. Those that did said they were following the ABA section's standards for reporting employment figures, and reported them honestly.

"While Loyola has not guaranteed anyone a job, we work hard to prepare our students to pass the bar exam and pursue successful careers," said Brian Costello, spokesman for Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, one school announced as a potential target. "For over 90 years, thousands of Loyola graduates have done exactly that."

The numbers that have become problematic were intended, said Ms. Rotenberg, to provide "consumer information" to prospective students and aren't required by the U.S. Education Department. She said the lawsuits are "concerning" and that the ABA section isn't commenting beyond that.

One irony: Some of the targeted schools were among the several dozen that in the last few months have voluntarily shared more detailed survey data with Law School Transparency, a nonprofit advocacy group founded in 2009 by two Vanderbilt law students. Those numbers show how many of the reported jobs were in the legal field and how many respondents didn't report their salaries. The figures have aided some suits against these schools. "We've used that," said David Anziska, a New York attorney who has co-filed most of the suits.

Kyle McEntee, co-founder and executive director of Law School Transparency, said the organization hasn't taken a stand on the lawsuits. He has no doubt that "misleading statistics were provided," but he raises a question also posed by lawyers for the defendants: how to determine whether damage has been done to students, and, if it has, how much tuition should be refunded.

The gulf between bottom-line employment figures and what Mr. McEntee and other critics consider the relevant numbers can be seen in an annual report from the National Association for Law Placement, a legal-careers organization that collates schools' employment-survey results, including data not published by the schools. Last year's report, the latest available, shows that 87.6% of 2010 graduates who responded to the surveys were employed as of Feb. 15, 2011—the lowest rate for the previous year's graduates since 1996. Meanwhile, just 68.4% of graduates who responded were in jobs that required passage of bar exams. And those respondents who reported their salaries represented just half of all employed graduates.

Critics of the law-school data say measures such as the ABA section's more detailed questionnaire won't allay all concerns. Schools gather the data that are used to evaluate them, which critics say poses a conflict of interest. Since at least two schools have admitted to submitting false data on a different subject, the credentials of admitted students, "it would be naive to assume that no law schools have falsified employment numbers," said Brian Tamanaha, a professor at Washington University's law school in St. Louis.

Ms. Rotenberg said no one but the schools can conduct the salary surveys, as they retain contact information for alumni. The council overseeing the ABA's accreditation section is considering putting more teeth into rules governing such statistics, including penalties for schools reporting inaccurate information that range up to loss of accreditation. Schools that break the rules "take a very grave risk," Ms. Rotenberg says.

Write to Carl Bialik at

A version of this article appeared Mar. 17, 2012, on page A2 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Job Prospects for Law Grads? The Jury's Out. ... 96610.html


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Re: WSJ: "Job Prospects for Law Grads? The Jury's Out"

Postby OmarLittle » Mon Mar 26, 2012 4:41 pm

I wonder how schools feel about their professors being quotds in these kinds of articles. Not really important, just curious whether a professor would give an honest opinion (i.e. a negative one) of the job market and schools reporting their numbers (dis)honestly if their instution was taking part in the practice. Personally I highly doubt it.

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Re: WSJ: "Job Prospects for Law Grads? The Jury's Out"

Postby RedBirds2011 » Mon Mar 26, 2012 4:45 pm

God, I am so sick of people talking about this! Lol

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