It’s generally assumed that law schools cook the books when reporting employment data for recent graduates. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that new measures are aimed at keeping law schools honest:
U.S. law schools face renewed scrutiny over claims about their ability to find work for their graduates, a crucial selling point amid one of the legal industry’s worst-ever job markets.
Some of the schools have been creating temporary jobs for grads by paying nonprofits and others to employ them, a move that in some cases has boosted the schools’ standings in the much-followed U.S. News & World Report rankings.
A new rule adopted last week by the accrediting arm of the American Bar Association will tighten such claims, giving law schools less credit for jobs that they subsidize.
In other law school graduate employment news, the ABA Journal recently reported on a study showing that 25% of Ohio’s 2010 bar admittees aren’t practicing law:
A law professor who used a bar directory and online resources to track down more than 1,100 lawyers who passed Ohio’s bar exam in 2010 feels “great sadness” for her study subjects.
Ohio State University law professor Deborah Jones Merritt found that at least a quarter of the 2010 bar admittees weren’t using their law licenses four years later, a finding she attributes to structural changes in the market for legal labor. Merritt summarizes her findings at the Law School Café…….
Merritt believes the legal job market is being affected by an oversupply of lawyers, deregulation of the legal profession, new technology, use of outsourcing and contract lawyers, increased reliance on nonlawyers for legal work and competition from global providers.
Merritt notes her study didn’t include law grads who didn’t pass the bar, and it didn’t distinguish between full- and part-time jobs or temporary and permanent jobs. In addition, she notes that some grads may have exaggerated the character of their position.
That last paragraph is important. It’s not 25% of graduates. It’s 25% of people who passed the bar and presumably wanted to practice law.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. No one should even consider going to law school unless: (1) they really, really want to be a lawyer; and/or (2) they will not go into debt to attend law school.
Law schools should be telling prospective students what they are signing up for instead of cooking the employment numbers and over-stating the value of a law degree if you will not end up practicing law.