I'll take it a look at it a little later -- thank you for the post.
P.S. Sorry for being a douche -- it's just something I feel strongly about.
Not the post I was looking for, but this is a good one. Enjoy.
Basic overview: 58% of graduates got ABA graduates got full-time, JD-required jobs. That number alone is appallingly bad. But even it is exaggerated, as Professor Campos points out.
In 2010, ABA-accredited law schools, who have extremely powerful incentives to discover the extent to which their graduates have legal jobs, and indeed are increasingly inventing "jobs" for ever-larger proportions of their graduates, were able to report that a total of 58% of their graduates had full-time employment requiring a law degree nine months after graduation. But consider what that figure includes:
(1) Temp work. If during the NALP survey window a graduate happened to be on a six-week document review project requiring 40 hours per week of work and the possession of a law degree (as most such projects do), then guess what: that person counts as someone who has full-time employment requiring a law degree.
(2) "Jobs" that feature a nominal or completely non-existent salary. How many graduates of the class of 2010 listed themselves as employed full-time in a position requiring a law degree when what they were doing was working for free? Given that only 40% of the national class of 2010 reported a salary to NALP, and given that a brief tour of the interwebs reveals that a lot of law school graduates are working for free, the answer is "we don't actually know (because we don't want to know)" but the number appears to be, as the stats people say, non-trivial.
(3) "Jobs" invented by law schools to pump up putative employment rates. This category included more than 4% of all "jobs" reported by 2010 graduates, and there's every indication that the 2011 number in for this category is going to be much, much higher.
(4) Short-term positions which will leave those in them unemployed within a few months after the survey window. Judicial clerkships fall in this category: the NALP definition of "short term" employment is any employment that is scheduled to last less than one year. This allows schools to list their graduates in judicial clerkships as having long-term employment. Now while it's true that an Article III clerkship is usually something a graduate took when the graduate would have had the option of a taking a long-term full-time job requiring a law degree, Article III clerkships make up a very small percentage of judicial clerkships as a whole. Most judicial clerkships are state district court positions that, in the vast majority of cases, are going to leave those who take them searching for legal employment quite shortly. But they can be -- and often are -- counted by schools as full-time long-term employment requiring a law degree.
(5) Unsustainable forms of self-employment. Nearly one third of 2010 law graduates who listed themselves as employed full-time in a position requiring a law degree were either in solo practices or with "firms" of 2-10 employees. Many of the latter positions consist of a couple of new grads opening a law office and trying to make a go of it, in a hyper-saturated market in which they (naturally) have almost no idea what they're doing, because the whole "practicing law" thing -- not to mention the "running your own small business" thing -- wasn't covered during the course of their legal education.
It's safe to say the statistic that 58% of 2010 grads were discovered to be in full-time employment requiring a law degree nine months after graduation is a very significant overstatement of the true legal employment rate for recent law graduates. And the true legal employment rate for recent law graduates has, in the end, nothing to do with whether this or that person had good grades, or good people skills, or good connections, or anything else. People don't get jobs as lawyers because there are more than twice as many law school graduates as there are jobs for lawyers. This ratio is, from the perspective of new graduates, getting worse every day. Any discussion of law school reform that doesn't put this fact front and center is just whistling past an increasingly full professional graveyard.
Yes, this affects T3/4 schools disproportionately, but even T1-T2 schools are struggling to place the majority of their students into full-time, JD-required jobs. And of those who do find jobs, only a small percentage are getting jobs that are well-paying enough to justify the incredible cost of tuition.
This isn't a statement on capitalism or some other stupid bullshit. It's a simple cost-benefit analysis, one which any professed Obama-hating capitalist loving man like yourself should appreciate. For the majority of students, the costs of a JD does not justify the expense.