Unemployment

Ervin Burell was a man who know how to 'juke the stats.'

All right folks, graduation is upon us. If you are a 3L who did not secure a post-graduate legal job, I’m sorry. Your life isn’t over, but law school didn’t work out as well for you as you might have hoped. At least not yet.

Not that your law schools want anybody to know that. No, according to your law school, you, unemployed 3L, are an embarrassment. They wish you would just go away. They don’t want to be reminded that you exist. Why? Because your unemployment could hurt your law school’s U.S. News ranking.

Unfortunately for some schools, U.S. News is actually paying more attention these days to schools that simply ignore their unemployed 3Ls for purposes of reporting their employed-upon-graduation statistics. Maybe U.S. News can’t force schools to report only those students employed in legitimate legal jobs, but they can punish schools that refuse to report on all of their recent graduates.

You know what that means: bring on your fake job programs, designed largely for rankings-enhancement purposes.

Let’s try to collect all of the schools that are enacting ridiculous “employment” programs that seem designed primarily to enhance their U.S. News rank. We’ll get you started with a fun one….

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* This identical-twin date-rape ad probably wasn’t vetted through legal. [Copyranter]

* Adultery is still illegal in Colorado because…? Maybe state legislators are worried that a “favors adultery” attack ad could work? [WSJ Law Blog]

* The legal industry added jobs in April. [Am Law Daily]

* Law firms still find the time to be charitable. [Street Law]

* Do Republicans spend too much time in the gym, and not enough time passing laws? Check out Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) — and his awesome abs. [Towleroad]

* Are there simply too many law reviews? [Truth on the Market]

* Above the Law commenters can be excellent correctors. [What About Clients? (see "Note" at end)]

I graduated from Northwestern Law in 2009. It is now 2011, my loans are coming due (real due — not the fake, put ‘em in forebearance, due of yesteryear), and I am currently “employed” doing two things: reviewing documents at an embarrassing hourly wage on projects that start and stop without any sort of consistency, and writing “jokes” about the Microsoft Zune every weekday morning, every other week. To borrow from David Foster Wallace, this is water.

And so it is with a sick sort of pleasure that I read Professor Paul Campos’s very interesting piece on The New Republic website yesterday. Coupled with Elie’s post on the Biglaw bloodletting, the article tells me what I’ve wanted to know and, in fact, what I’ve been telling my mom for two years now. Namely, that MJ was right. I am not alone.

What is the true state of unemployment for law school graduates? Professor Campos has crunched some numbers….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Law Schools Lie Like A Dog… Or A Rug. A Dog On A Rug.”

It’s hard to put a number on just how many people are in the so-called “lost generation” of attorneys who had their careers ruined during the recession. We’ll probably never know how many people did not get jobs or had to take very bad jobs because of the weak economy in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

But one way of assessing the damage is to look at the number of positions that have been shed by Biglaw firms. That’s the perspective the National Law Journal 250 took this year. Based on their numbers, Biglaw has lost almost 10,000 lawyers since 2008.

So if you got laid off during the recession, you are certainly not alone…

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It’s a familiar refrain around these parts: it’s tough to find legal employment, unless you got into one of the top law schools. The prevailing wisdom is that students at the “best” (i.e., highest-ranked) law schools have been protected from the recession-dampened job market facing recent graduates of most American law schools. “HYS” (Harvard, Yale, Stanford), “CCN” (Columbia, Chicago, NYU) — these law schools are thought to be safe bets for people who would like to be employed upon graduation.

But are they?

We know that things aren’t as bad for students at top schools as they are for people attending schools that are not ranked as highly by U.S. News. But that doesn’t mean a degree from a “T6″ school parts the jobless sea and leads graduates to the promised land of gainful employment.

In fact, at this late date in the law school calendar, we know that there are 3Ls at great schools staring into the abyss of post-graduate unemployment. The proof comes from the charity that employed students are trying to extend to their unemployed brethren…

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Incoming summer associates, would you donate one day of your summer salary to help other students at your school who did not get summer jobs? Would you donate that money for a pro bono or public interest cause? Would you donate that money so your law school could fund the pro bono interests of other students?

Or am I giving you a false choice? Is it offensive to suggest that your law school needs one cent of your hard-won salary to fund public interest programs that should be covered by your tuition?

These are the questions facing students at one law school, thanks to an interesting donation request from the school’s administration. This isn’t a public interest auction like you’ll see at many law schools, where students with extra cash can bid on items, and auction proceeds are used to fund public interest fellowships. Rather, this is a direct request for a redistribution of income.

And I’m not sure if this is laudable or monstrous…

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We spend a lot of time with soon-to-be-unemployed 3Ls who are looking for some way to express their dissatisfaction with their law school and the career services they received. When people pay or borrow over $100K for three years of legal education and their employment future still comes down to how they perform during McDonald’s supersized hiring day, it makes people bitter.

Recently, UVA Law students have been putting in requests to be named Kings of the Bitters. We understand that their T-shirt based protests continue (can a brother get a link to buy a shirt?). We don’t know how effective they’ve been at steering 0Ls away from UVA Law, but then again, it seems like the only thing that effectively impacts 0L decision making is more paperwork.

Once you get to law school, you realize that the important pieces of paper are the ones you get in the mail informing you whether or not you have a job. But many UVA Law students are receiving thin rejection letters. One student pushed all of his rejection papers together into perhaps the most creative display of student dissatisfaction we’ve seen during the recession.

The 3L has taken the marble facade off of one top law school, exposing the sad reality lying underneath…

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I feel like there should be a student protest reality show.

Too often, people act like post-graduation unemployment is a malady that affects only students at lower-ranked law schools. People act like only lazy students at third-tier institutions — or “rank not published” institutions, if you prefer — end up desperate for work after three years of legal education.

But we know better. We know that the threat of unemployment is very real to all law school students. Sure, the higher-ranked schools might do a better job of getting their students jobs, at least in percentage terms; but even top schools have students who want to work but cannot find jobs.

Students at one top-ten law school are sick of suffering in silence. They want everybody, especially admitted students, to know that going to an elite law school doesn’t guarantee you a good job.

Given the state of the legal economy and the cost of law school tuition, it’s a wonder that this kind of thing doesn’t happen more often….

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Invisible Unemployed

The new proposals for regulating law schools coming out of the American Bar Association’s Law School Accreditation Committee are not perfect, but they represent a major step in the right direction.

Now if we could only get the entire ABA to see that allowing law schools to provide misinformation to potential students is bad for everybody.

The National Law Journal reports that there are three major changes being proposed by the Accreditation Committee: changes in the way law schools report employment information, dropping the LSAT requirement, and dropping the requirement that law schools retain a tenure system…

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Is your law school being a crybaby?

We’ve already noted that there was no change at the very top of the 2012 U.S. News Law School Rankings. The best schools remain the best schools.

Further down the list, we start to see some volatility. Now, every year there needs to be some change in the rankings; how else is U.S. News going to get people to buy new magazines? When you cede control of your legal education system to the list-making skills of a for-profit magazine, those are the kinds of realities you just have to live with.

But the way U.S. News tweaked its methodology this year is special. This year, U.S. News tweaked things ever so slightly to make their rankings just a little bit more output-oriented. While the rankings are still unabashedly focused on the qualifications of students on the way in than what those kids end up doing on their way out, this year’s list pays more lip service to the employment outcomes of recent graduates. We recently quoted this section of a letter U.S. News editor Brian Kelly sent to law school deans: “[E]mployment after graduation is relevant data that prospective students and other consumers should be entitled to. Many graduate business schools are meticulous about collecting such data, even having it audited. The entire law school sector is perceived to be less than candid because it does not pursue a similar, disciplined approach to data collection and reporting.”

U.S. News placed a little more emphasis on employment after graduation this year, and some schools took a significant hit because of it.

And now? Well, my friends, now we get to hear a couple of law schools squeal — just like their graduates have for the past three years….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Start Your Whining: Schools Make Excuses for Their Poor U.S. News Rankings”

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