Over the past few weeks, we’ve brought you a few sets of rankings based on the class of 2011 employment statistics that were used in compiling the 2014 U.S. News law school rankings. These data points — in particular the one concerning full-time, long-term employment where bar passage was required — were the downfall of many a law school. If administrators weren’t looking out for their graduates before, now they’ll be forced to, unless they want to suffer even more in future rankings.

As for the 2015 U.S. News rankings, most law schools already have an idea of the fates they’ll be subjected to when Bob Morse gets his hands on the jobs data for the class of 2012. The fact that only 56 percent of the most recent graduating class were employed as lawyers nine months after graduation is already set in stone, so they’ll have to aim higher when it comes to the class of 2013.

But just because U.S. News hasn’t evaluated the most recent set of employment statistics doesn’t mean that we can’t. Today, the National Law Journal released a study on the latest employment outcomes from all 202 ABA-accredited law schools, ranging from the schools that sent the highest percentages of their class into Biglaw’s gaping maw to the schools with the highest percentage of Article III groupies.

The NLJ also has information on the law schools with the highest unemployment rates, and because we know that our readers are big fans of schadenfreude, we’re going to delve into that data. So which law schools had the highest percentage of graduates willing to review documents for food? Let’s find out….

The NLJ has a list of the 20 law schools with the highest percentage of 2012 graduates who were seeking employment, but hadn’t been lucky enough to find a job within nine months of graduation. Today, we’re going to bring you the top 10 law schools from that list — an honor that no one wants:

To see all 20 law schools with the highest unemployment rates for the class of 2012, click here.

Of the schools in our top 10 list, two of them have been sued over their allegedly deceptive employment statistics. Three additional suits are pending against the remaining 10 schools that the NLJ singled out for being the cream of the crap when it comes to unemployed recent graduates.

The most shocking part of this top 10 list is the fact that six of the schools are in California. When applied to these forlorn graduates, perhaps that catchy Katy Perry song would’ve sounded like this:

California girls, we’re unemployable,
Wish we went to flyover schools!
Sunburned skin,
So bad, from begging in the streets.
Oh oh oh no-ohhhhhhh!

Here’s what Karen Sloan of the NLJ had to say about the class of 2012 employment statistics, noting that the ABA data shows that it “matters which law school you attend”:

While the most prestigious law schools continued to enjoy relatively robust placement numbers, graduates of many schools were still struggling to find permanent legal employment. Nearly 28 percent of new graduates nationwide either were unemployed or held part-time, short-term or nonprofessional jobs as of nine months after graduation.

While it’s possible to get a job as a lawyer if you graduate from a school outside of the top 50 as ranked by U.S. News, this top 10 list proves that the employment pickings are slim, even when still hovering just inside of the top 100. The highest-ranked school in the top 10 of this unfortunate list is Oregon (#94), with 21.7 percent of its most recent graduating class still woefully unemployed.

The rest of the schools range from #98 to “Rank Not Published” and “Unranked.” In fact, almost half of this top 10 list is composed of RNP law schools, with 12 RNP schools in the full list of 20. It’s time for a certain ATL editor to admit that, at least for most people, attending an RNP school isn’t a wise choice.

Please exercise caution when you lay down your law school deposit, prospective law students. Your livelihood — as well as your financial future — may depend on it. As for the rest of you, feel free speak your mind about these 20 schools (which also include Brooklyn and UC Hastings) in the comments.

UPDATE (4/10/13 9:30 a.m.): Last night, we received some additional commentary for publication on these issues from Rudy Hasl, the dean of Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Here’s what he had to say:

I believe that the statements in your story about law schools and unemployment figures are not accurate.

These cases are principally an attack on the method of reporting statistics that was used by the ABA and U.S. News & World Report – not on the unique actions by these individual schools. The law schools that have been sued provided the specific data requested by those entities, in the specific format requested, just like every other law school. They were not unique. Thus, your statements and inferences about “allegedly deceptive employment statistics” by the law schools are not, in our opinion, accurate.

As to your shock about the representation of California schools on the list, I would suggest that several factors come into play that have nothing to do with any inadequacy on the part of the law schools. For example, the California bar exam is one of the most difficult in the nation and, as a result, more students remain unemployed at 9 months because they did not pass that exam. Indeed, even for those that pass, California takes much longer than most states to issue the results (almost 7 months after a May graduation). Thus, the time to search for a job between being notified that one passed the bar exam and the 9 month marker, is much less in California than in most other states. Again, none of this is a reflection on California schools, and certainly is not evidence of any deception. However, it does not appear to me that your article takes any such relevant facts into consideration.

Read this if you want a legal job [National Law Journal]
Which law schools are tops for jobs? [National Law Journal]
Unemployed [National Law Journal]

Earlier: Entry-Level Job Market Is Still Terrible, But The Class Of 2012 Really Should Have Seen That Coming
Which Law Schools Employed the Most Grads in ‘Elite’ Jobs?
Which Law Schools Employed the Most Graduates as Real Lawyers Versus Real Baristas?


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