As all sentient beings are aware, we have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad legal job market. According to NALP data, the industry is down 50,000 jobs since 2008 and there is no reason to believe they will ever reappear. If you ignore school-funded positions (5% of the total number of jobs), this market is worse than its previous low point of 1993-1994. In light of these grim economic realities, we feel that potential law students should prioritize their future job prospects over other factors in deciding whether to attend law school. To put it mildly, inputs- (LSATs, GPAs, per capita spending, etc.) and reputational survey-based law school rankings schemes have proved unsatisfactory. Hence our release last week of the ATL Top 50 Law Schools, which is based on nothing but outcomes.
(Although he probably disapproves of all rankings, it must be said that the legal world owes a great debt to Kyle McEntee and his colleagues at Law School Transparency. LST has forced us all to look at the publicly available employment data, submitted by the schools to the ABA, in a more meaningful way. Like all good ideas, it seems obvious in retrospect.)
We received a ton of feedback and comments regarding our rankings and our methodology, much of it thoughtful and substantive. (Our very own Elie Mystal weighed in with this takedown the day after we published.) Quite a few recurrent criticisms emerged from the comments. Of course there’s no perfect dataset or methodology. At best, rankings are a useful simulacrum and just one of many tools available to 0Ls for researching and comparing schools.
What follows are the most common criticisms of the ATL Top 50 Law Firms rankings….
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….
We know that our readers simply cannot get enough of these employment rankings, so we decided to bring you some more. This time, we’ll be taking a look at the law schools that people dream of attending: the 14 most elite schools in the nation, more commonly known among the legal community as the T14. Everyone knows that graduates of these fine institutions are able to get jobs — in fact, many of these schools are able to boast “employed at graduation” rates of over 90 percent.
But some graduates from these hallowed halls experience the same problems as those of their brethren from the lower echelons of law schools. Not everyone has the luxury of being able to find full-time, long-term employment as lawyers, not even graduates from the best-ranked law schools in country.
Wouldn’t you like to see which top law school has the highest percentage of underemployed graduates? Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled T14ers….
Only 56 percent of the class of 2012 secured full-time, long-term legal employment within nine months of graduation. In this economy, that passes as good news because that figure is up one percent from last year. It’s kind like telling a terminally ill patient that his parking tickets got dismissed.
Law School Transparency reports that when you exclude school-funded jobs, the employment number falls to 55 percent. And there is more bad news when you dive deeper into the statistics.
But this is the class of 2012, the first class that really should have known that this was going to happen….
Today, the National Law Journal released its list of the 100 most influential lawyers in America. The NLJ releases a similar list once every few years, and each time, the nation’s top lawyers — some from Biglaw, some from legal academia, some from the in-house world, and some from the trial and appellate bars — celebrate their success in creating real change in the industry. That said, the people named to this list are relatively well-known to the general Above the Law readership, but they won’t exactly be household names to laypeople.
Which legal eagles soared into the NLJ’s list this time around? Well, the NLJ selected their influential lawyers based on their political clout, legal results, media penetration, business credibility, and thought leadership. We’ve whittled the impressive list of 100 down to our own top 10.
Much credit has been given to the American Bar Association of late for its efforts to rein in law schools and their wily ways as far as employment statistics are concerned. Once upon a time, it was just fine for law schools to publish completely nonsensical data and herald it to the world as if it were true. Prospective (and extremely gullible) applicants were made to believe that it was possible for 98 percent of a class to be employed nine months after graduation during the height of the recession, and they applied in droves.
These days, now that word has gotten out that employment in the entry-level legal sector has run dry, law school applications are on pace to hit a 30-year low. You’d think that given the gravity of the situation — not to mention the ebb and flow of class action lawsuits having to do with job statistics — law schools do their best to comply with the ABA’s standards, but apparently even that’s too hard to do.
Perhaps the ABA’s reporting requirements are too tough in that they require not one, but Dear Lord, two charts to be published, along with consumer information that’s “complete, accurate, and not misleading.” That’s a pretty high bar to reach, amirite? Considering the state of the job market, providing accurate employment information about law schools must be really embarrassing rough for administrators to have to endure.
In fact, some law schools in the T14 can’t even bring themselves to adhere to these stringent requirements….
* While Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts made a plea to keep funding for the federal judiciary intact, we learned that student loan default cases have fallen since 2011. You really gotta love that income-based repayment. [WSJ Law Blog (sub. req.)]
* Introducing the Asia 50, a list of the largest firms in the Asia-Pacific region. When it comes to the firms with the biggest footprints, only one American Biglaw shop made the cut. Go ahead and take a wild guess on which one it was. [Asian Lawyer]
* Congratulations are in order, because after almost a year of stalling, Arnold & Porter partner William Baer was finally confirmed by the Senate as the chief of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. [Bloomberg]
* Our elected officials might not have allowed the country to fall off the fiscal cliff, but the American Invents Act was put on hold, so if you’re a patent nerd, you can still be mad about something. [National Law Journal]
* In the latest NYC subway shoving death, a woman was charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime, and allegedly bragged about other hate crimes she’s committed to police. Lovely. [New York Times]
* Next time you’re trapped on a plane that’s literally filled with other people’s crap for 11 hours, don’t bother suing over your hellish experience — you’re going to be preempted by federal law. [New York Law Journal]
If there’s one thing that lawyers love more than arguing, it’s law school rankings. Whether you’re a prospective law student, a current law student, or a law school alumnus, you’re likely obsessed with the U.S. News law school rankings, the most well-known of all national law school rankings.
But come on, let’s be real with ourselves: members of the legal profession are unhealthily obsessed with rankings in general. From the rankings that seem to defy logic and common sense to the rankings that seem nonsensical at best, if they’re out there, we know that our loyal readers are going to salivate over them.
One major criticism of the U.S. News rankings of late is that prospective law students still place a far greater weight on these rankings than any other metric — which is quite foolish. That’s why we were excited to see that Law School Transparency recently released an alternative to the U.S. News law school rankings, based on factors that ought to be important to would-be law students: cost and employment outcomes.
Let’s check out the LST rankings alternative, and see what they’ve got to offer….
* The Village Voice is stepping away from Backpage due to its ties to sex trafficking. “This so unfair! Everyone loves online prostitution,” said no one ever (okay fine, a lot of people probably say that). [paidContent]
* Cybersecurity, drones, and smackdowns, oh my! [Lawfare]
* Right now, millions of taxpayer dollars fund legal scholarship. Considering how expensive law review articles seem to be, it’d be nice if law professors could techcite their own material before turning it over to law review peons associate staff members for further review. [PrawfsBlawg]
* We actually needed 25 volumes of things you can’t do on a plane? Apparently common sense is a relic these days. [Legal Blog Watch]
* Should you go to law school? That’s apparently the question on everyone’s mind, so Professor Deborah Merritt of Ohio State Law and Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency are here to help you out. [NerdWallet]
On Friday, the American Bar Association released the employment data for the class of 2011 that they collected from their member law schools. By dumping the information on a summer Friday, perhaps the ABA was hoping that nobody would notice the statistics?
Well, we noticed. The numbers are too bad not to notice. Earlier this month we reported on the NALP employment data, and the ABA data here doesn’t look any better. Only 55% of people in the class of 2011 are known to have found employment in full-time legal jobs.
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Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Deal flow has clearly picked recently up for most US associates, counsels and partners in Hong Kong/China and Singapore. We are on the phone with a lot of these folks on a daily basis, many of whom we have known for years. Further, the head of our Asia team, Evan Jowers, and Kinney’s founder and president, Robert Kinney, frequently meet in person with leading US partners in Asia to assess their needs and keep on top of the inside scoop at as many firms as possible. The need for legal recruiting help in Asia from experienced recruiters appears to be live and well. In March, Evan and Robert were in Beijing at such meetings, in April, Evan was in Hong Kong, and for half of June Evan will be in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Thus its pretty easy for us to tell when there has been an across-the-market pick up in capital markets and corporate work.
On an average day in Asia when Evan and Robert visit firms, they typically have 5 to 9 meetings a day, mostly with US partners in the market. The reason they have these meetings is not simply because Kinney makes a lot of US attorney placements in Asia and that a particular firm may have openings; instead these are just visits with friends. After years of working together as business partners, the folks at Kinney are actually these peoples’ friends. The firms Kinney work closely with in Asia (which is just about every law firm – call us if you want to know the one firm in the world we will never place anyone with again, ever, and why) look forward to the visits, or at least act like they do. After seven years in the market, many of the client partners are former associate candidates. Also, these US partners see Kinney as a very good source of market information as well, because they know how deep their contacts are in the market and how frequently they are speaking to counterparts at peer firms.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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