Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

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jenesaislaw
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Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby jenesaislaw » Mon Apr 12, 2010 11:03 pm

Some media coverage:
Above the Law: http://abovethelaw.com/2010/04/increasi ... to-be-done
National Law Journal: http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNL ... 2448308203
Am Law Daily: http://amlawdaily.typepad.com/amlawdail ... stats.html
ABA Journal: http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/ ... ent_stats/

Some of you know that observationalist and I have been working on a law review article that undertakes to improve the employment reporting standard at ABA law schools. Our main goal is to use it to justify what we do with our non-profit, Law School Transparency (http://www.lawschooltransparency.com). We recently submitted this to a bunch of law reviews and hope to have somebody accept us soon. Anyhow, we hope you all enjoy reading this and find it useful, both for making your decisions and for helping others with their decisions further down the line. We are both happy to answer any questions you all have about our project. It will really take more than just observationalist's and my efforts to make this kind of change.

A Way Forward: Improving Transparency in Employment Reporting at American Law Schools
Abstract:
The decision to attend law school in the 21st century requires an increasingly significant financial investment, yet very little information about the value of a legal education is available for prospective law students. Prospectives use various tools provided by schools and third parties while seeking to make an informed decision about which law school to attend. This Article surveys the available information with respect to one important segment of the value analysis: post-graduation employment outcomes.

One of the most pressing issues with current access to information is the ability to hide outcomes in aggregate statistical forms. Just about every tool enables this behavior, which, while misleading, often complies with the current ABA and U.S. News reporting standards. In this Article, we propose a new standard for employment reporting grounded in compromise. Our hope is that this standard enables prospectives to take a detailed, holistic look at the diverse employment options from different law schools. In time, improved transparency at American law institutions can produce generations of lawyers who were better informed about the range of jobs obtainable with a law degree.



You can view the entire article here.

Some highlights
* We discuss the data and information you all rely on to figure out what kind of jobs you can get from different law schools.
* We discuss how informed some hypothetical prospective would be if they wanted to go to New York Law School
* We discuss how three schools are already much more transparent than other law schools (Chicago, Duke, and Vanderbilt)
* We discuss how to make a new standard because the standard is the problem, not that schools act in their own self-interest by keeping some stuff to themselves
* We discuss what our non-profit will do to improve the standard. Basically we will try to put market pressure on schools - like US News does - to comply with our standard.

Our standard has two lists.
Job List
1. Employer Type
2. Employer Name
3. Position Name
4. Bar Passage Required, Preferred, or Neither
5. Full-Time / Part-Time
6. Office Location (City, State, Country)
7. Journal Status
Salary List
8. Employer Type
9. Office Location (City, State, Country)
10. Full-Time / Part-Time
11. Salary
Last edited by jenesaislaw on Wed Apr 21, 2010 7:11 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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RVP11
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Re: Improving the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby RVP11 » Mon Apr 12, 2010 11:12 pm

Great work.

Anonymous Loser
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Re: Improving the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby Anonymous Loser » Mon Apr 12, 2010 11:23 pm

FYI, there are punctuation problems with more than a few of your explanatory parentheticals. This will likely have little impact on your selection for publication, but if you plan on making additional submissions, it might be worth making revisions.

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observationalist
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Re: Improving the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby observationalist » Tue Apr 13, 2010 12:43 am

Anonymous Loser wrote:FYI, there are punctuation problems with more than a few of your explanatory parentheticals. This will likely have little impact on your selection for publication, but if you plan on making additional submissions, it might be worth making revisions.


Duly noted... thanks for pointing that out.

The cool thing about SSRN is that we can continue making revisions throughout the process. Part of our goal is just to get people engaged in talking about this, and there's no reason we need to wait until publication to get some discussion going. TLS posters are probably the most informed prospectives out there, and I expect some of you have come across important information that we failed to include in our first go at writing on this issue. I would appreciate any substantive criticisms anyone might have about how to improve our argument going forward.

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rezipsa
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby rezipsa » Tue Apr 13, 2010 12:11 pm

This paper blew me away. I've only read the first page or so but the writing is lucid and the research masterful. And those string cites! Kudos to obs and jnsl :twisted:

But in all seriousness, great work. This is change I can believe in!

See also http://www.racetothetoplaw.com/

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observationalist
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby observationalist » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:10 pm

Hey, the few people who have read this thread,

So we are setting up an interview with ATL to do a story on the paper/transparency project/website. Hopefully they'll give us some press on the issue (whether good or bad I guess will be up to them). We've already been in touch with a handful of law school administrators and professors from different schools who have at least initially expressed their support. At the very least, they are all interested in seeing how this plays out. The more support we can drum up for these ideas over the next couple of months, the better the likelihood schools will start releasing full employment lists of where their graduates go.

Will keep everyone posted, but in the meantime we really do appreciate any comments people might have about the paper/website. Also, don't forget to contact the schools you've been accepted to and ask them directly for full employment lists. At least collectively, you all have a lot of leverage in asking for more information before signing off on those loans.

Best,
-obs

bigben
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby bigben » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:18 pm

Great work.

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jenesaislaw
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby jenesaislaw » Fri Apr 16, 2010 10:43 am

Thanks, ben.

erniesto
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby erniesto » Fri Apr 16, 2010 12:11 pm

Interesting and incredibly relevant topic. Am I correct in assuming this is only a preliminary draft and not the final product?

Edit: I did find this conclusion particularly striking: "Nevertheless, both
the ABA and U.S. News group in-house counsel with short-order cooks at Waffle House.96"

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jenesaislaw
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby jenesaislaw » Fri Apr 16, 2010 12:48 pm

erniesto wrote:Interesting and incredibly relevant topic. Am I correct in assuming this is only a preliminary draft and not the final product?

Edit: I did find this conclusion particularly striking: "Nevertheless, both
the ABA and U.S. News group in-house counsel with short-order cooks at Waffle House.96"


Yes, this is just a draft. It's a very far along draft, but there will be improvements to it, both by us and whichever journal decides to publish us. I know when I reread it I cringe at some parts, but this is inevitable with a paper of this length. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated - just shoot me a PM.

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ggocat
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby ggocat » Fri Apr 16, 2010 12:51 pm

Nifty. Have any law profs signed on to this project? I'd think that schools would be more likely to participate if the request comes from within the academy. Maybe Morriss and/or Henderson would be interested.

I think it would also be more effective to omit speculative salary information from your website. I suspect schools would be hesitant to supply you with employment data if they think you are going to fill in the blanks with possible misinformation (and looking at some of the salary info, I see incorrect numbers even for 2007/2009).

bigben
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby bigben » Fri Apr 16, 2010 12:52 pm

I would think that the students who make up ed boards would be very receptive to this topic.

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jenesaislaw
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby jenesaislaw » Fri Apr 16, 2010 1:01 pm

ggocat wrote:Nifty. Have any law profs signed on to this project? I'd think that schools would be more likely to participate if the request comes from within the academy. Maybe Morriss and/or Henderson would be interested.

I think it would also be more effective to omit speculative salary information from your website. I suspect schools would be hesitant to supply you with employment data if they think you are going to fill in the blanks with possible misinformation (and looking at some of the salary info, I see incorrect numbers even for 2007/2009).


We have spoken to Professor Henderson numerous times, actually. He is very encouraging and provided us one way we might audit the data schools provide. I will be sending Professor Morriss - and each other person we cited in this paper - an email shortly letting them know about this project. Additionally, I've corresponded with Northwestern's Dean, and obs and I spent an hour talking our project over with the accreditation fact-finding committee the ABA and AALS sent to Vanderbilt. This committee included the Deans of FSU and Notre Dame, as well as faculty members at UC-Irvine, a dean at WashU, and a justice on the Alabama Supreme Court. We've also spoken rather extensively with faculty and administrators at Vanderbilt about the topic. Almost all of them loved the idea, though a few were skeptical of the consequences that could follow.

As far as the speculative salary information, I collected that data in 2008 as reported to NALP by the law firms (and then a few were infirmation.com and others were from partners at the firm). If you have good reason to suspect something is wrong for that time period, please let me know and I will update the spreadsheet. One of the points of facilitating dialog is so that misinformation, where it exists, can be corrected.

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ggocat
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby ggocat » Fri Apr 16, 2010 1:15 pm

Also, the name "Law School Transparency" is catchy, but it sounds like the name of a website with an ulterior motive. It sounds like you're trying to "expose" something; it sounds like the name of a blog that rails against the "law school conspiracy" (e.g., blogs such as "Third Tier Reality," "Big Debt Small Law," or "Exposing the Law School Scam").

If your primary goal is to collect and disseminate employment data, I would opt for a more neutral name (with a catchy or easy to remember acronym--think LSAC or NALP). For example, "Legal Employment Research Association" (LERA) or "Legal Employment Data Research Association" (LEDRA) or "Law School Employment Research Association" (LSERA).

IMO, an unexciting, neutral name would bolster your credibility.

EDIT: And I note that LSERA.org is available, although the other two acronyms are taken.
Last edited by ggocat on Fri Apr 16, 2010 2:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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ggocat
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby ggocat » Fri Apr 16, 2010 1:23 pm

jenesaislaw wrote:We have spoken to Professor Henderson numerous times, actually. He is very encouraging and provided us one way we might audit the data schools provide. I will be sending Professor Morriss - and each other person we cited in this paper - an email shortly letting them know about this project. Additionally, I've corresponded with Northwestern's Dean, and obs and I spent an hour talking our project over with the accreditation fact-finding committee the ABA and AALS sent to Vanderbilt. This committee included the Deans of FSU and Notre Dame, as well as faculty members at UC-Irvine, a dean at WashU, and a justice on the Alabama Supreme Court. We've also spoken rather extensively with faculty and administrators at Vanderbilt about the topic. Almost all of them loved the idea, though a few were skeptical of the consequences that could follow.

That's awesome. Including some of this information in a cover letter with your submission (or noting your thanks to [insert list of law professors] in your author info footnote) may also increase the likelihood of publication (or rather, increase the likelihood of a higher ranking journal making an offer).

jenesaislaw wrote:As far as the speculative salary information, I collected that data in 2008 as reported to NALP by the law firms (and then a few were infirmation.com and others were from partners at the firm). If you have good reason to suspect something is wrong for that time period, please let me know and I will update the spreadsheet. One of the points of facilitating dialog is so that misinformation, where it exists, can be corrected.

The Vanderbilt spreadsheet is excellent; sorry I should have said I was referring to the Duke speadsheet where some of the salaries are "guesses" and the clerkship salaries are not adjusted for locality (for federal clerkships) and incorrect for state courts.

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jenesaislaw
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby jenesaislaw » Fri Apr 16, 2010 1:50 pm

Hmm. I will look at that this afternoon and put up a simple list instead I think. Thanks for the tip.

de5igual
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby de5igual » Fri Apr 16, 2010 2:56 pm

great work, guys.

i actually mentioned the employment transperancy issue during UT's ASD, and the CSO director looked shocked that Vandy would disclose that much

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jenesaislaw
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby jenesaislaw » Sat Apr 17, 2010 12:31 pm

Wow that's pretty interesting. Did that bother you?

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observationalist
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby observationalist » Mon Apr 19, 2010 1:47 pm

ggocat wrote:
jenesaislaw wrote:We have spoken to Professor Henderson numerous times, actually. He is very encouraging and provided us one way we might audit the data schools provide. I will be sending Professor Morriss - and each other person we cited in this paper - an email shortly letting them know about this project. Additionally, I've corresponded with Northwestern's Dean, and obs and I spent an hour talking our project over with the accreditation fact-finding committee the ABA and AALS sent to Vanderbilt. This committee included the Deans of FSU and Notre Dame, as well as faculty members at UC-Irvine, a dean at WashU, and a justice on the Alabama Supreme Court. We've also spoken rather extensively with faculty and administrators at Vanderbilt about the topic. Almost all of them loved the idea, though a few were skeptical of the consequences that could follow.

That's awesome. Including some of this information in a cover letter with your submission (or noting your thanks to [insert list of law professors] in your author info footnote) may also increase the likelihood of publication (or rather, increase the likelihood of a higher ranking journal making an offer).


ggocat, those are great suggestions... We went with a fairly standard cover letter because at the time of submission we really didn't know what sort of responses it would illicit. Maybe now that this is generating some media coverage it would be worth it to send updates... it would really help our case if a law review saw fit to publish this. Or we could update the bylines in the SSRN version in case article editors are looking to that for some guidance (e.g. to see if it's generating a lot of downloads). Otherwise we might target it next cycle for the Journal on Legal Education (JLE), which gets to the desk of just about every law prof in the country.

Update: we're hoping to get some coverage from both the National Law Journal and the ABA Journal in the coming weeks, with offers from both to discuss the paper and/or project. Still no idea what sort of take they'll have on it, but if nothing else it should help publicize our ideas and get people talking.

In the meantime, keep the suggestions coming... maybe we can cite to this thread in our thank-you's as well. We already cite to TLS more than any other paper we've come across, so if we can throw more in without undermining our credibility it would be great to credit your suggestions.

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jenesaislaw
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby jenesaislaw » Mon Apr 19, 2010 11:33 pm


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Grizz
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby Grizz » Mon Apr 19, 2010 11:40 pm

jenesaislaw wrote:First story is up: http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNL ... 2448308203


Congrats on the nice press; transparency is a big issue for me as a prospective law student, as I am incredibly debt/job conscious in this economomy. One of the main reasons I went with Vanderbilt (very transparent) as opposed to UT (vague) was Vanderbilt's openness and willingness to talk about where their grads ended up. Thanks for all the hard work.

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romothesavior
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby romothesavior » Mon Apr 19, 2010 11:48 pm

Excelllent work to both of you.

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romothesavior
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby romothesavior » Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:10 am

Hey obs and jenesaislaw, I've got a question for you (and I'm sorry if I missed this in your paper or if its a stupid question)

I'm reading pages 41-43 (I think that's section 2e?) about salary distribution. You say that when NYLS reports a median salary of $160,000, it is only representing a small slice of the class. You note that even NYLS even admits that only 25% of their class of 2008 reported salary data. I understand that the upper-crust of the class is more likely to respond, and $160,000 is likely way off in terms of starting salary for that graduating class.

But what about when a school reports that they have 90%+ of students reporting, and they still have high salary numbers? (I'm talking more like $120,000 as the median). Do we have cause to be skeptical about these numbers? And if so, how is the school doctoring such information?

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OperaSoprano
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby OperaSoprano » Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:26 am

Observationalist sent me a copy, and I regret that I haven't had a chance to read the whole thing yet. I promise to do so ASAP. I do want to offer you and him my heartiest congratulations for putting together such an exhaustively researched paper, and for garnering such great publicity. You guys are absolutely amazing, and it really is pretty cool to see TLS posters quoted in a scholarly article. :mrgreen:

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jay115
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Re: Reforming the Employment Reporting Standard at Law Schools

Postby jay115 » Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:46 am

awesome job; keep up the pressure! law schools will only change their practices if consumers (law school students and wannabes) demand them.




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