Employment Data

If it seems like a silly debate, it’s only because you haven’t been buttonholed by a law school dean who has had just about enough of your oh-so-funny jokes about his school.

Law deans, especially law deans of schools with underwhelming employment numbers, are convinced, convinced, that the “employed nine months after graduation” statistic vastly under-represents the value of their law degrees. Recent graduates of their schools who have been sitting around without jobs for nine months think that their law deans can go jump in a lake. But a small percentage of these grads will get jobs — mainly crappy, barely-legal jobs, which don’t begin to justify the massive investment they’ve made in legal education — between months nine and ten. This could make it easier for law deans to inflate their job statistics with a ten-month rule.

The law deans are few but powerful. The people aligned against law deans (recent graduates, independent third parties, pretty much everybody else) are vastly more numerous but lack real power to influence the rules.

Caught in the middle is the American Bar Association. Normally, you might expect the ABA to do whatever the law deans want, but here there are just too many arguments in favor of the basic consumer utility of the “nine months.”

And so the ABA has decided to delay making a decision until later this summer. What do you think they should do?

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The lack of data tells you something. Certainly if they were paying off quite well, schools would be advertising that.

Brian Tamanaha, a professor at the Washington University of St. Louis School of Law and author of Failing Law Schools (affiliate link), commenting on the dearth of employment statistics for LL.M. grads.

Casey Anthony

* “Is there a public interest in unwanted pregnancies … that can often result in abortions?” The judge who ordered that Plan B be made available to all women regardless of age is pissed at the DOJ. [The Caucus / New York Times]

* Mary Jo White, the littlest litigatrix, will “review” the Securities and Exchange Commission’s policy of allowing financial firms to settle civil suits without affirming or denying culpability, but for now, she’s defending it. [Reuters]

* Dewey know what this failed firm is supposed to pay its advisers for work done during the first nine months of its bankruptcy proceedings? We certainly do, and it’s quite the pretty penny. [Am Law Daily]

* In a round of musical chairs that started at Weil Gotshal, Cadwalader just lost the co-chairs of its bankruptcy practice and another bankruptcy partner to O’Melveny. [DealBook / New York Times]

* Another day, another law school comparison website. Take a look at Law Jobs: By the Numbers, which includes a formula from the laughable National Jurist rankings system. [National Law Journal]

* In a move that shocked absolutely no one, attorneys for Colorado movie theater shooting suspect James Holmes announced they will enter a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity for their client. [CNN]

* From the “hindsight is 20/20″ file: the judge who presided over the Casey Anthony trial thinks there was enough evidence to convict the ex-MILF. He also likened Jose Baez to a used car salesman. [AP]

* Check out Logan Beirne’s book (affiliate link). Even when sensationalizing George Washington’s rise from general to president, attention must be paid to the rule of law. [Wall Street Journal (sub. req.)]

New Rule: The next law school person who wants to bitch about the unfairness of the “employed nine months after graduation” metric must offer to make loan payments for all students who don’t have a job at nine months until they find one. If law schools are going to knock up their recent graduates they should at least have to throw in some child support.

Oh, wait, NO law school dean wants to actually be on the hook for student loans from when they come due six months after graduation until… whenever this unnamed point in the future comes when students can expect to have jobs. Given that, I don’t really want to hear about how your school is so freaking “unfairly” treated because CONSUMERS of legal education need to know if they will be employed within shouting distance of when they will start having to pay back their loans.

Fine, you want a compromise? It looks like we’re moving to ten months anyway…

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We present the inaugural ATL Top 50 Law School Rankings. Our rankings methodology is based purely on outcomes, especially on the schools’ success in placing its graduates into quality, real attorney jobs.

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Your final destination… is not a Biglaw job.

The National Association for Law Placement (NALP) has new numbers on the legal job market for recent graduates, and like it has been every year since the start of the Great Recession, those numbers are a horror show. A freaking horror show. They might as well put three recent graduates in a room with one job offer in it, handcuff the graduates to a pole, and give the offer to the one that eats through his arm first.

The other two would then get to leave the room unemployed, with some bite wounds, instead of unemployed with over $100,000 in debt, which is how people are actually leaving law school.

Do you want some good news? The lateral hiring market is hot. NALP executive director Jim Leipold called it a “feeding frenzy” for experienced associates. So if you got a job and held onto it through the 2009 layoffs, pick up your phone. It’s probably a recruiter calling. Congratulations on all your success.

If instead you were not lucky enough to be born five years earlier and have just graduated or are about to graduate, I don’t have anything for you — other than this here hacksaw. Chop, chop….

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Hello again from the 2013 annual education conference of the Association for Legal Career Professionals (aka NALP). People here are very friendly — although, as noted earlier, the law firm folks tend to be more welcoming to us than the law school crew.

That’s to be expected, given our sometimes critical coverage of law schools. We seek to promote consumer awareness when it comes to legal education, but some schools — especially those schools with weaker job outcomes for their graduates — perceive this as an attack.

Yesterday I attended a NALP panel discussion about law school transparency. In the course of discussing what we talk about when we talk about transparency, the panelists provided five defenses that law schools can use when faced with criticism over unemployed or underemployed graduates….

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Party on, Justice Breyer.

* On this episode of Supreme Court Retirement Watch, we learn that for whatever reason, Justice Breyer is “having the time of his life,” and so once again, all eyes are upon Justice Ginsburg. Maybe in 2015, folks. [The Hill]

* How unusual that a federal judge would see a confirmation in less than three months. If only Chuck Grassley owed favors to all of the nominees. Congratulations to Jane Kelly, now of the Eighth Circuit. [Legal Times]

* Thanks to an unprecedented ruling from Judge Dolly Gee, mentally disabled immigrants facing deportation will receive government-paid legal representation. New law school clinics, assemble! [New York Times]

* “Among the things the ABA is working on, this may be the most important.” Too bad the Task Force on the Future of Education seems to suffer from too many cooks in kitchen. [National Law Journal]

* Another one bites the dust: Team Strauss/Anziska’s lawsuit against Brooklyn Law School over its allegedly phony employment statistics has been dismissed. Sad trombone. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]

* Justin Teixeira, one of the Berkeley law students accused in the Las Vegas bird beheading, waived an evidentiary hearing so the media couldn’t squawk about video images they’d see. [Crimesider / CBS News]

Here at Above the Law, we try to pay attention to every sector of legal employment. We often find ourselves skewed rather heavily toward Biglaw, but as we all know, not everyone wants to work in Biglaw — including some of the people who are ensconced in high-paying Biglaw jobs themselves.

Imagine a place where you won’t be shackled to the billable hour. Imagine a place where you’ll get all government holidays off without having to worry about showing up just for the sake of appearances. Imagine a place where your clients are people, not corporate entities. If that seems nice to you, it’s because it is.

Today, we’re going to open the floodgates for the members of our audience, prospective law students in particular, who aspire to some day work in government and public interest jobs. Which law schools should you be considering if you’d like to have the best odds of reaching your goal?

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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….

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