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Help me understand U.S. News Employment Statistics.

Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:39 pm
by Canadian
From a brief and informal survey, it seems to me that everyone on TLS is freaking out about employment prospects in the legal market. However, looking at the U.S. News Rankings, things seem to be okay. That is, the top ten schools all have '08 grads employed at graduation well north of 90%. I realize there must be more to the story, so I came here to get the full picture. I am not a longtime follower of U.S. News, so I have a couple of immediate questions:

1. Is it normal for them to be using employment statistics from 2 years ago? Why not 2009? Have they just not collected this data yet?

2. Are people expected 2009 employment statistics to be much lower? Is this what people are freaking out about?

3. I hear a lot about how law schools 'game' the rankings to make themselves look better, but I haven't heard what this means. Employment statistics of 96%+ look pretty good to me, but I'm sure I'm not getting the whole picture. Can someone explain?

I imagine there will be more questions to follow once we get a discussion going, but this is a good start. Thanks! Cheers.

Re: Help me understand U.S. News Employment Statistics.

Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:42 pm
by 270910
All you need to know: 'employed' could mean anything from a >>>$300K job at WLRK to a <<<<30K job at McD's

Re: Help me understand U.S. News Employment Statistics.

Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:49 pm
by toolfan
There is no method to the madness.

Re: Help me understand U.S. News Employment Statistics.

Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:55 pm
by baboon309
disco_barred wrote:All you need to know: 'employed' could mean anything from a >>>$300K job at WLRK to a <<<<30K job at McD's



300k for 1st ?

Re: Help me understand U.S. News Employment Statistics.

Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 8:58 pm
by 270910
baboon309 wrote:
disco_barred wrote:All you need to know: 'employed' could mean anything from a >>>$300K job at WLRK to a <<<<30K job at McD's



300k for 1st ?


yessir (after bonus, may have been a bit less last year because of the down turn)

Re: Help me understand U.S. News Employment Statistics.

Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 9:20 pm
by General Tso
not sure why the employment stats are lagged by a year...maybe because it's a voluntary survey and they need more time to wrangle responses out of some people.

as to how schools "game rankings: by using statistics there are several options:
-lie outright
-hire students as temporary research assistants, academic support counselors, etc.
-create new programs that let you employ students in a roundabout way (eg - Duke's Bridges to Practice program -- read about it here: http://www.law.duke.edu/news/story?id=4826&u=11 )

together employed at graduation and employed within 9 mos. make up 20% of the USNWR raw score. Employed at graduation = 4 total points, so any overstatement of that figure by 10% will increase the raw score by 0.4 points. Seems trivial, but when a point or two can create gaps of 10-14 places in the ranking, every fraction of a point counts. Of course they round up as well.

An overstatement of 5% of the employed within 9 mos. figure will result in an extra 0.8 points.

My feeling is that UC Davis overstated its employed at graduation figure by roughly 20% (in 2008 they claimed 78%, in 2010 they claimed 97%), resulting in about an extra 0.8 points. That plus counting all of their expenditures on their new building --> a school that should be upper 30s/low 40s is now #28.

Many other schools are gaming the rankings in this manner -- Duke, Az State, Chapman, Baltimore, just to name a few. Check out Brian Leiter's post on this a few days ago.

Re: Help me understand U.S. News Employment Statistics.

Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 9:25 pm
by clintonius
disco_barred wrote:
baboon309 wrote:
disco_barred wrote:All you need to know: 'employed' could mean anything from a >>>$300K job at WLRK to a <<<<30K job at McD's
300k for 1st ?
yessir (after bonus, may have been a bit less last year because of the down turn)

About 230k last year, north of 330k in '07 and before. There's a reason for their reputation.

Re: Help me understand U.S. News Employment Statistics.

Posted: Sun Apr 18, 2010 9:50 pm
by ScaredWorkedBored
It's lagged a year because of the @ 9 months after graduation number. Schools wouldn't even have collected their '09 numbers on that when this would be going to print.

clintonius wrote:
disco_barred wrote:
baboon309 wrote:
disco_barred wrote:All you need to know: 'employed' could mean anything from a >>>$300K job at WLRK to a <<<<30K job at McD's
300k for 1st ?
yessir (after bonus, may have been a bit less last year because of the down turn)

About 230k last year, north of 330k in '07 and before. There's a reason for their reputation.


If you're going to work almost your entire waking life, you might as well be making nearly double what you would at the other NYC V10's for the same effort.