There’s been skepticism about whether schools are even capable of collecting the data covered by our standard. As we will show in this post, and contrary to that skepticism about whether schools can tell the whole story, schools already do a good job with reporting to NALP. We don’t need to improve collection efforts to be successful (though that would be nice); our goal can be reached by persuading schools to release the currently available data.
Of the eight unique components across the Job List and Salary List, ABA-approved law schools already collect six directly about students: Employer Type, Office Location, Employer Name, Bar Passage Required/Preferred/Neither, Full-time/Part-time, and Salary. However, just because NALP collects these data from schools doesn’t mean schools have data for every graduate. Reporting percentages vary for each component.
According to the latest information on NALP’s website, for the class of 2007, NALP-reporting schools reported employment outcome data for at least 40,416 of 41,707 law school graduates (a 96.9% reporting rate). Although schools could do a better job at tracking everyone down every year, we are not concerned about whether schools or graduates are to blame for that other 4.1%. We are looking at the graduates for which NALP already collects substantial data. We seek the abovementioned components because they are both important and well-documented by schools already.
Here are the results of NALP’s efforts in terms of how much information is available for each component on our two lists:
Of the 41,707 graduates, the NALP data connect 36,666 (87.9%) of them to employer type.
Bar Passage Required, Preferred, or Neither
Of the 41,707 graduates, the NALP data connect 36,277 (87.0%) of them to degree requirements.
Of the 41,707 graduates, the NALP data connect 36,417 (87.3%) of them to full-time/part-time descriptions.
Of the 41,707 graduates, the NALP data connect 35,990 (86.3%) of them to an office location. Whether this includes the city is unknown, but it appears to at least include state because the same numbers are identified as jobs taken either in-state or out-of-state (relative to the state the law school is in).
Schools did not report salary data about each graduate. The best indication of salary proportions can be found by examining gender on page 1 of the National Summary Report. It includes gender data for 99% of graduates. For those 41,293 graduates, there are salary data for 11,162 women and 12,045 men, or 55.6% of all 2007 graduates.
Of the 41,707 graduates, a sizable chunk do not report a salary because there is no salary to report. This includes those reported as unemployed – whether seeking employment or not (1670 seeking employment + 692 not seeking employment = 2362 known to be unemployed graduates, or 5.7%). The same goes for those pursuing other degrees after law school (931 graduates, or 2.2%). This would appear to leave 38,414 graduates who could report a salary, so the percentages are slightly more favorable. 60.4% of graduates who could report a salary do report a salary.
The National Summary Report does not shed any light on employer names, although NALP’s suggested survey includes it. At least some schools are capable of producing these data for every graduate, as you see with Vanderbilt, Duke, and Chicago.
For position name, schools can satisfactorily describe many graduates by examining the graduates’ answers to the NALP survey. Journal status, on the other hand, will require new efforts by law schools, but this component is already publicly available through journal mastheads, websites, and hard copies.
As things stand now, some of these components don’t matter much to the U.S. News and the ABA reporting standards. Notable scholars like Professor Henderson at Indiana have been calling for that to change. Showing each component for each graduate, even if only at the percentages achieved by NALP’s collection efforts, will significantly dampen the aggregation problem that affects information for virtually every ABA-approved law school.
In this post we addressed your concerns that the employment information we are asking for is not available. It is; it’s just not available for you to see. The question that still remains is whether all law schools want to release this information (or perhaps why they should). There is also a question raised by some stakeholders about whether schools can legally release information on individuals, which we will address in a later post.
In the meantime, please continue sending us your thoughts.