Transparency in law school employment statistics

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JAP1985
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Transparency in law school employment statistics

Postby JAP1985 » Thu Apr 22, 2010 1:46 pm

Just read this article on ATL: --LinkRemoved--

Link to website: http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/

...This seems like a good idea and I hope more schools get on board.

270910
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Re: Transparency in law school employment statistics

Postby 270910 » Thu Apr 22, 2010 2:58 pm

It's also being pushed by TLS users (the first page has their alteregos listed).

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TTT-LS
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Re: Transparency in law school employment statistics

Postby TTT-LS » Thu Apr 22, 2010 4:18 pm

.
Last edited by TTT-LS on Sun Jul 11, 2010 4:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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UFMatt
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Re: Transparency in law school employment statistics

Postby UFMatt » Thu Apr 22, 2010 4:23 pm

Much like with individual law grads, the most successful will be more likely to respond leading to a selection bias.

miamiman
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Re: Transparency in law school employment statistics

Postby miamiman » Thu Apr 22, 2010 4:28 pm

tbh, i really don't see this affecting many people. most of the kids I see going off to attend Nova Southeastern or Faulkner or St. Thomas (FL) and other godawful TTTs have been told precisely how godawful they are. they just don't have better options in their mind. (And, in some ways, they aren't wrong).

I'm all for more transparency (as opposed to less) but the reality is that I feel most prospectives commit to some level of analysis that goes beyond simply accepting US News data as presumptively truthful. They talk to current students or alums. They do baby TLS analysis. It's not wonderful but it's not horrible either.

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JAP1985
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Re: Transparency in law school employment statistics

Postby JAP1985 » Thu Apr 22, 2010 4:41 pm

I think this will be especially useful for students who are deciding between paying sticker at a T14 or taking a scholarship at a T20 or lower; or similarly those deciding between a school in the higher tier of the T14 vs. the lower, etc... It's usually job prospects that sway an applicant one way or another

Lower tier schools - who might actually have grads with decent employment options but suffer because of the way USNWR scores a school - might be able to lure additional applicants.

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observationalist
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Re: Transparency in law school employment statistics

Postby observationalist » Thu Apr 22, 2010 5:31 pm

Fellow TLS'ers,

Thanks for the criticisms and comments. We have already been getting some employment information sent in from individuals (mostly current students, though hopefully administrators will see fit to start contacting us soon as well). A much larger number of people have been sending us suggestions about how to go about ensuring compliance as well (and some of the ideas are very good). Plus we're trying to review the discussions taking place on blogs, ATL comments, etc so we make sure we're not missing any really good ideas about how to move forward.

If anyone hasn't had time to look over the paper and has specific questions about what we're trying to do, I'm happy to try and answer them. The article is also a working draft, so we will likely be making revisions before it gets published. Obviously people care a lot more about the transparency project than the article, but we really see the article as the way to convince the law schools that this new standard is in their best interest.

One point about the lower-tiered schools: some of them actually stand to benefit a lot from this standard. The worst thing any of them have going for them is that U.S. News considers them a bottom-dweller, even though some of them have done a lot in the way of curriculum reform, practical training, and all those buzz words you hear schools championing. Our goal is to let them show everyone where their graduates go and then let prospectives research the employers... and for the many local law schools that do a decent job sending graduates into small but reputable law firms, the added publicity will be a benefit. It's also going to benefit the gigantic portion of legal employers who aren't structured as large law firms. As of now, you usually only hear about them when they screw up in a way that's funny enough to warrant news coverage. I've been able to contact a lot of small conservation land trusts around the country on behalf of our Environmental Law Society about setting up externships, but had I not actually worked for a land trust I never would have gained access to the list of potential employers that are out there. Our goal is to make that information accessible to you before you actually begin investing in your law degree... which from a consumer rights perspective seems intuitively to be a good idea.

Prospectives may suffer from optimism bias and have little concept of what exactly a graded curving system does when you throw a bunch of top performers together, but at the very least they will benefit from seeing just where everyone goes. Having actual average starting salary figures (combined with cities so people can adjust for COL) will also give prospectives the chance to better prepare themselves financially. If the most likely outcome from a particular school is working at a 5 to 10-person law firm that starts out paying small salaries but has a significantly higher chance of making partner than larger firms, people can think ahead of time about how much they will make right out of law school and how much ten years out.

I'm sure we haven't adequately addressed every potential consequence in the article (which is already really, really long), so keep the criticisms coming and we can discuss.

-obs

[edited to clarify a few points.]
Last edited by observationalist on Thu Apr 22, 2010 5:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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jenesaislaw
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Re: Transparency in law school employment statistics

Postby jenesaislaw » Thu Apr 22, 2010 5:34 pm

I just have a few minutes, but I thought I'd say a quick things.

TTT-LS wrote:I can see this working within the T20, but nowhere else. Lower-ranked schools with relatively weak employment prospects currently take a voluntary USNWR hit rather than providing employment info. As in, they'd rather take a hit large enough to move them from T2 to T3 or T3 to T4 in many cases just to avoid providing fuzzy employment data. Plus, there is a near-endless supply of uninformed applicants every year. These schools only jeopardize their bottom line by increasing transparency. This was baiscally Elie's point in the ATL post.


Schools have incentive rankings-wise to not report employment at graduation, so you're a little mixed up. They don't report because the #s U.S. News makes up for non-reports look better than reality, improving their scores relative to everybody else.

While it is true there are many people who do not get into law school, the ABA will have cause to crack down if many of these prospectives wind up going to these schools. Additionally, schools have shown in the past at times not to fill up when the demand is not there (I believe this is the case with Cooley a year or two ago). Schools can only take anybody within a certain range. At some point the people just aren't bright enough to pass the bar, and ABA-approved schools will not want those people to attend because it affects other metrics (U.S. News and ABA standard metrics).

Finally, and somebody addresses this below, there are lots of schools that stand to gain relative to their peers by complying with a new standard, particularly where the standard aims to pit schools against each other to compete to report. It's in an incentives party and everybody is invited. There will be a line in the sand and the line will not be where everybody thinks (T20), but relative to cost and actual outcomes (not everybody wants BigLaw).

UFMatt wrote:Much like with individual law grads, the most successful will be more likely to respond leading to a selection bias.


This is not to show trends across schools, so the "selection bias" doesn't result it overrepresentation. The result is that, whoever follows the standard will show the underlying data for the information already out there such that the information has more meaning school-by-school. Only if a very large percentage of schools comply can we do industry studies, else we run into your selection bias problem.

miamiman wrote:tbh, i really don't see this affecting many people. most of the kids I see going off to attend Nova Southeastern or Faulkner or St. Thomas (FL) and other godawful TTTs have been told precisely how godawful they are. they just don't have better options in their mind. (And, in some ways, they aren't wrong).

I'm all for more transparency (as opposed to less) but the reality is that I feel most prospectives commit to some level of analysis that goes beyond simply accepting US News data as presumptively truthful. They talk to current students or alums. They do baby TLS analysis. It's not wonderful but it's not horrible either.


I think you underestimate how uninformed people are. The problem isn't just at the bottom of the barrel. it's also about people choosing #30 over #70 based on US Rank rather than how outcomes conform to what the individual needs and can reasonably expect for their career. Our paper starts off showing why the TLS analysis isn't enough. It's worth reading (obvious I think this since I wrote it) to see what I mean. Many are just simply precluded from being adequately informed as to post-graduation outcomes.

JAP1985 wrote:I think this will be especially useful for students who are deciding between paying sticker at a T14 or taking a scholarship at a T20 or lower; or similarly those deciding between a school in the higher tier of the T14 vs. the lower, etc... It's usually job prospects that sway an applicant one way or another

Lower tier schools - who might actually have grads with decent employment options but suffer because of the way USNWR scores a school - might be able to lure additional applicants.


You hit the nail on the head at the end there. Lots of schools stand to gain. The world is not just all biglaw and Article III clerkships.

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observationalist
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Re: Transparency in law school employment statistics

Postby observationalist » Thu Apr 22, 2010 5:35 pm

ITT, Observationalist and Jenesaislaw fight to see who can respond the fastest.

obs: 1
jnsl: 0

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arhmcpo
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Re: Transparency in law school employment statistics

Postby arhmcpo » Thu Apr 22, 2010 5:41 pm

Wonderful idea.
F*** 0L's, it would be nice even for current law students to see a statistically believable report on job prospects from their own freaking school.

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observationalist
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Re: Transparency in law school employment statistics

Postby observationalist » Thu Apr 22, 2010 6:21 pm

arhmcpo wrote:Wonderful idea.
F*** 0L's, it would be nice even for current law students to see a statistically believable report on job prospects from their own freaking school.


At least one really solid suggestion so far has been to approach the student bar associations at each law school and see if they will disseminate the lists to the graduating 3L class for people to fill out. It might help encourage the law schools to be more careful in auditing the information they provide (or at least encourage them to request information from every graduate). A lot of current students and recent graduates have been calling on their own schools to release employment information, so if you're in that position it might be really helpful to contact the administration and let them know you think it's a good idea.

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ggocat
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Re: Transparency in law school employment statistics

Postby ggocat » Thu Apr 22, 2010 6:35 pm

observationalist wrote:
arhmcpo wrote:Wonderful idea.
F*** 0L's, it would be nice even for current law students to see a statistically believable report on job prospects from their own freaking school.

At least one really solid suggestion so far has been to approach the student bar associations at each law school and see if they will disseminate the lists to the graduating 3L class for people to fill out. It might help encourage the law schools to be more careful in auditing the information they provide (or at least encourage them to request information from every graduate). A lot of current students and recent graduates have been calling on their own schools to release employment information, so if you're in that position it might be really helpful to contact the administration and let them know you think it's a good idea.

Have y'all looked at a blank NALP form? I'm pretty sure NALP collects all the data you are asking for (through the schools). So if you could get NALP to amend its practices and give you copies of the forms with names omitted/redacted, you get everything you need (minus non-respondents).

EDIT: here's the form: http://www.nalp.org/uploads/ERSSgradsurvey_inst_09.pdf.

EDIT2: sorry if this is already addressed in your report; I remember you mentioned NALP, but I forget exactly what you said.

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jenesaislaw
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Re: Transparency in law school employment statistics

Postby jenesaislaw » Thu Apr 22, 2010 7:16 pm

ggocat, we actually believe that's an important feature of our standard. That is, it's not asking as much because schools already provide 6 of the 8 standard components to NALP.

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JAP1985
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Re: Transparency in law school employment statistics

Postby JAP1985 » Thu Apr 22, 2010 8:44 pm

observationalist wrote:Fellow TLS'ers,

Thanks for the criticisms and comments. We have already been getting some employment information sent in from individuals (mostly current students, though hopefully administrators will see fit to start contacting us soon as well). A much larger number of people have been sending us suggestions about how to go about ensuring compliance as well (and some of the ideas are very good). Plus we're trying to review the discussions taking place on blogs, ATL comments, etc so we make sure we're not missing any really good ideas about how to move forward.

If anyone hasn't had time to look over the paper and has specific questions about what we're trying to do, I'm happy to try and answer them. The article is also a working draft, so we will likely be making revisions before it gets published. Obviously people care a lot more about the transparency project than the article, but we really see the article as the way to convince the law schools that this new standard is in their best interest.

One point about the lower-tiered schools: some of them actually stand to benefit a lot from this standard. The worst thing any of them have going for them is that U.S. News considers them a bottom-dweller, even though some of them have done a lot in the way of curriculum reform, practical training, and all those buzz words you hear schools championing. Our goal is to let them show everyone where their graduates go and then let prospectives research the employers... and for the many local law schools that do a decent job sending graduates into small but reputable law firms, the added publicity will be a benefit. It's also going to benefit the gigantic portion of legal employers who aren't structured as large law firms. As of now, you usually only hear about them when they screw up in a way that's funny enough to warrant news coverage. I've been able to contact a lot of small conservation land trusts around the country on behalf of our Environmental Law Society about setting up externships, but had I not actually worked for a land trust I never would have gained access to the list of potential employers that are out there. Our goal is to make that information accessible to you before you actually begin investing in your law degree... which from a consumer rights perspective seems intuitively to be a good idea.

Prospectives may suffer from optimism bias and have little concept of what exactly a graded curving system does when you throw a bunch of top performers together, but at the very least they will benefit from seeing just where everyone goes. Having actual average starting salary figures (combined with cities so people can adjust for COL) will also give prospectives the chance to better prepare themselves financially. If the most likely outcome from a particular school is working at a 5 to 10-person law firm that starts out paying small salaries but has a significantly higher chance of making partner than larger firms, people can think ahead of time about how much they will make right out of law school and how much ten years out.

I'm sure we haven't adequately addressed every potential consequence in the article (which is already really, really long), so keep the criticisms coming and we can discuss.

-obs

[edited to clarify a few points.]


Is there a way to vet their information for accuracy? By "their" I mean the student who are reporting employment info. I know with LSN and even TLS you can only hope that people are truthful and obviously if someone is a Cooley grad working at Covington there is cause for suspicion; but I worry about grads, especially those in the T14 or T1 embelleshing their stats in the name of school pride.

edit: clarity

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observationalist
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Re: Transparency in law school employment statistics

Postby observationalist » Thu Apr 22, 2010 11:26 pm

JAP1985 wrote:
Is there a way to vet their information for accuracy? By "their" I mean the student who are reporting employment info. I know with LSN and even TLS you can only hope that people are truthful and obviously if someone is a Cooley grad working at Covington there is cause for suspicion; but I worry about grads, especially those in the T14 or T1 embelleshing their stats in the name of school pride.

edit: clarity


Good point. I think if we're going to talk about current students reporting directly to LST without going through the law schools, we would need a significant majority of all graduates from any particular school to report before the information is all that helpful. That's where student organizations like the bar associations could play a part; it's also why we tried to design a standard that the law schools are capable of collecting without putting in any extra time. It sounds like the best role this direct student reporting could play for now is to help verify the lists being submitted by the law schools. We originally were thinking current students/recent graduates would help us audit the information provided by the schools, which would help keep everyone honest. But I do think that if current students keep sending us information now, we need to figure out a way to incorporate that into the standard.

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jenesaislaw
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Re: Transparency in law school employment statistics

Postby jenesaislaw » Fri Apr 23, 2010 1:31 am

Just to add to obs's point, it is easier to get 200 entities to report compared to 44,000. The transaction costs would be out of control. Additionally, I doubt that enough people would share with us in addition to schools (they have to be specially motivated as opposed to thinking it's something they have to do as a law student). This would cause a problem of the top performers sharing and things looking better than they are (think the salary reporting stuff).




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