We were alerted a few minutes ago that we transposed the data for Indiana University — Bloomington (Maurer) and for Indiana University — Indianapolis (McKinney). We’ve updated the clearinghouse accordingly.
As always, we seek to remedy mistakes as quickly as possible. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you even suspect there’s been a mistake.
LST’s Press Release:
Mister Hart, here is a dime. Take it, call your mother, and tell her there is serious doubt about you ever becoming a lawyer.
– Kingsfield, The Paper Chase
The ABA has released Class of 2011 job outcome data for all domestic ABA-approved law schools. The data are far more granular than ever before. Law School Transparency has analyzed the data and made the school-specific data available on its website for easy comparison.
The ABA data shed considerable light on how poorly the 2011 graduates fared. We can now say with certainty that the employment picture is far worse than previously reported. Only 55.2% of all graduates were known to be employed in full-time, long-term legal jobs. A devastating 26.4% of all graduates were underemployed.
According to the ABA data from 195 law schools:
Full-time, Long-Term Legal Jobs:
- These jobs require bar passage or are judicial clerkships and are for at least 35 hours per week and have an expected duration of at least one year.
- The national full-time, long-term legal rate is 55.2%.
- At 73 law schools (37.1%), less than 50% of graduates had these legal jobs.
- 30 schools (15.2%) had less than 40%
- 10 schools (5.1%) had less than a 33%
- 89 schools (45.2%) exceeded the national rate of 55.2%.
- 31 schools (15.7%) had more than 67%
- 19 schools (9.6%) had more than 75%
- 5 schools (2.5%) had more than 90%
- We define a graduate as underemployed when he or she is “Unemployed – Seeking”, pursuing an additional advanced degree, in a non-professional job, or employed in a short-term or part-time job.
- The national underemployment rate is 26.4%.
- 180 schools (91.4%) reported a rate greater than 10%.
- 144 schools (73.1%) had more than 20%
- 109 schools (55.3%) had more than 25%
- 57 schools (28.9%) had more than 33%
- 20 schools (10.2%) had more than 40%
Large Firms (at least 101 attorneys):
- 10.7% of graduates were employed at large firms in full-time, long-term positions
- Graduates seek these jobs in part because they’re the jobs that tend to pay the highest salaries.
- At only 45 schools (22.8%) were more than 10% in these jobs.
- 20 schools (10.2%) had more than 20%
- 15 schools (5.6%) had more than 33%
- Only 3 schools were over 50% – Columbia, Northwestern, and Penn.
Law School Transparency’s executive director, Kyle McEntee, urged caution to students planning to enroll this fall. McEntee said, “Law school still costs way too much money compared to post-graduation employment outcomes. If you plan to debt-finance your education or use your hard-earned savings, seriously think twice about attending a law school without a steep discount. For the vast majority of prospective law students who have not received an extensive scholarship, it will make sense to wait for prices to drop.”
There has been some speculation that the class of 2011 may represent the bottom, though this view is grounded more in optimism than evidence. Rather, evidence points to a structural shift in legal employment, especially at the entry-level, that signals a new normal far below pre-recession levels. Technology, globalization, and law firm strategies are substantially changing our profession.
To view every ABA-approved law school’s profile, visit http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/clearinghouse/.
To view comparison charts, visit http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/clearinghouse/?show=compare&sub=jobs
Established in 2009, Law School Transparency is a nonprofit legal education policy organization. Our mission is to improve consumer information and to usher in consumer-oriented reforms to the current law school model. We operate independently of any legal institutions, legal employers, or academic reports related to the legal market.
This weekend we wrote about a recruitment letter sent by Rutgers – Camden School of Law’s admissions dean, Camille Andrews. We alleged that the letter contained incomplete, deceptive, and false information, and that as a result Dean Andrews should resign from her post and the ABA should conduct an investigation and bring appropriate sanctions against the law school.
In an article published in Inside Higher Ed, Camden’s Dean Rayman Solomon responded. Neither Dean Solomon nor Dean Andrews responded to us directly, and we have only the portions of Dean Solomon’s statements published by Inside Higher Ed:
Dean Rayman Solomon is standing by Andrews. Solomon said the recruitment material was accurate but that he’s “open to discussion” about the best way to reach prospective students going forward. The promotion in question targeted potential applicants who took the GMAT, not the LSAT, the typical law school admission test. The goal, Solomon said, was to reach a new audience and introduce the Rutgers-Camden program. Students could then go online to get more information.
“This was one letter saying are you interested, have you thought about it?” Solomon said. “This is not our entire marketing campaign. This is telling people that we have a program.”
But were the numbers misleading?
“I don’t know how to respond,” Solomon said. “If you have a hundred people, would four of them be misled? Would one be misled? Would 98 be misled? [It was] a piece that was designed to get people to think about something they hadn’t thought about. This wasn’t the only information they could get about it.”
We appear to agree with Dean Solomon on the purpose. The May 2012 letter was designed to get students to think about law school or a legal career who were not known to be interested in attending law school starting in August 2012. We bet we also agree on the following three points:
- Camden waived the application fee to reduce the application barrier
- Camden discussed employment outcomes to show its placement successes in a bad economy
- Camden discussed salary outcomes and salary potential to inform the cost-benefit analysis of the campaign targets
However, we clearly disagree about whether Camden’s employment outcome claims adequately reflect reality and whether targeting people who had not yet expressed interest in law school was appropriate given the very short decision window and lack of knowledge about their professional goals.
Nevertheless, neither LST nor Camden knows the actual effect of the campaign on the letter recipients. Frankly it doesn’t matter whether many people or zero people enroll. We care about how Camden conducts itself in the law school marketplace; Camden unfairly used employment statistics to augment its argument that the law school is a safe haven from a bad economy. In this regard Camden crossed the ethical (and likely legal) line from mere puffery to deceptive advertising. These facts are troubling irrespective of whether prospective students are sophisticated, unsophisticated, or indifferent.
The brunt of Dean Solomon’s response is that this is but a single letter that isn’t a big deal and shouldn’t affect decision making. To that we ask, what could the employment statistics have been meant to do other than affect application and enrollment decisions? The letter was part of a recruitment campaign, not a teaser for a movie due out next summer. Camden should strive to have all of its communications with students be accurate and honest. Dean Solomon further states that the misinformation is okay because other information is out there. It would appear that he is saying “you should know not to take our statements at face value.” That’d be a pitiful position for a law school dean to take.
It’s not acceptable to provide prospective students with false and misleading information just because the truth is available somewhere else. Interpretation 509-4 to ABA Standard 509 clearly states that reporting consumer information accurately somewhere does not absolve a school’s responsibility to present such information in a fair and accurate manner elsewhere.
Standard 509 requires a law school fairly and accurately to report basic consumer information whenever and wherever that information is reported or published. A law school’s participation in the Council-designated publication referred to in Interpretation 509-2 and its provision of fair and accurate information for that book does not excuse a school from the obligation to report fairly and accurately all basic consumer information published in other places or for other purposes.
It’s worthwhile to emphasize that Dean Solomon disputed our analysis and not our numbers. He also said he is open to discussion. So are we, and we’ve sent him the following email:
We would like to know what specifically in our analysis you believe is incorrect.
1. Does the category “JD Advantage” include only jobs in the legal field?
2. If #1 is no, did any Camden graduates have a “JD Advantage” job not in the legal field? If so, how many?
3. Do you think the advertised private practice starting salary of $74,000 represents the average of all 2011 graduates employed in private practice?
4. How many graduates reported earning salaries of at least $130,000?
5. Do you believe the answer to #4 can fairly be described as “many”?
6. Are statements about employed graduates meaningful without disclosing how many non-employed graduates there are?
Please respond via email. If you do not have adequate information to answer any of these questions, please say so. In addition to the email, we would be happy to schedule a time to talk about the data, our analysis, Camden’s forthcoming remedial measures, and the internal policies Camden plans to adopt to prevent repeat violations of ABA Standard 509.
We reemphasize that the letter must stand on its own merits. This letter was intended to create a first impression with prospective students and paint in their minds a picture of financial security if they attend law school at Rutgers – Camden School of Law. Later discovering that the letter was deceptive does not erase the deception.
We will post a new story if/when Dean Solomon responds.
Last week we became aware of an ongoing recruiting campaign by Rutgers – Camden School of Law that targets students who were not considering law school. As a part of this campaign, Camille Andrews, Associate Dean of Enrollment, sent students an email with bold statements about the employment outcomes achieved by the class of 2011. When compared to the school’s self-published employment data, we see Dean Andrew’s statements range from misleading to plainly false. Because the statements made in this email are demonstrably deceptive and are in clear violation of ABA Standard 509, Dean Andrews should resign immediately from her administrative appointment.
There are two important layers to this story. First, Dean Andrews made unfair statements about the employment outcomes of Camden graduates. These statements exaggerate the successful outcomes of Camden graduates and attempt to influence student behavior. The realities of Camden’s placement are far different from what Dean Andrews discloses. (More on this below.)
Second, Camden has extended a special offer for people who haven’t followed the normal application process and haven’t expressed an interest in law school or legal practice. (The email recipients had taken the GMAT, not the LSAT.) The Camden Special allows the students to avoid delay and enroll this August. By portraying Camden as some down-economy safe haven that leads to status and riches, Dean Andrews is attempting to enroll the exact students who ought not to attend law school: people who have not had time to carefully weigh the pros and cons of this significant investment.
In addition to ensuring that Dean Andrews resigns, Camden must also take swift, corrective action in all cases where prospective students received emails containing these or similar false, misleading, or incomplete statements. We also call on the American Bar Association to conduct a full investigation and bring appropriate sanctions against the school for violations of the ABA Standards, especially Standard 509(a) and Interpretation 509-4. Not only is Camden an institute of higher learning, but it also serves as a gateway to the legal profession. The degree of recklessness displayed by Dean Andrews, and the Camden administration for permitting a representative to deceive potential students, cannot be tolerated. It’s the latest example of a law school having no accountability for its recruiting practices. These practices must stop.
What follows is an analysis of each unfair statement made by Dean Andrews. We can do this analysis because Camden has made the relevant employment data publicly available, though their accessibility does not excuse false, misleading, and incomplete statements that the administration should know leave readers with incorrect impressions. Each statement is itself a black eye for Rutgers — Camden School of Law, but it’s the cumulative effect of all of the statements and all of law school bad behavior that makes resignation, corrective action, and sanctions imperative.
Analysis of Statements by Dean Andrews for Rutgers – Camden School of Law
“[O]f those employed nine months after graduation, 90% were employed in the legal field”
This is problematic on two levels. First, it excludes non-employed graduates from the calculation to provide a false sense of success. There were 242 graduates in Camden’s 2011 graduating class. Of these, 199 were employed. Camden uses 199 as the denominator with no indication that it has excluded 17.8% of the class from the calculation. While the statement does disclose that it is “of those employed,” the number of unemployed graduates is so large that the statement requires context to avoid misrepresenting what it means. The advertised “90% of employed” actually only represents 74% of the whole class.
Second, “in the legal field” implies “as a lawyer,” yet Camden groups non-lawyers with lawyers to create the “in the legal field” category. Specifically, Camden has combined two distinct categories: jobs that require bar admission (154 grads) and jobs where the J.D. was an advantage (25 grads). The advertised “90% of employed” actually works out to 63.6% of the class in lawyer jobs, with another 10.6% in jobs where the J.D. was an advantage.
The “J.D. Advantage” category that Camden uses to boost its “in the legal field” rate includes jobs as paralegals, law school admissions officers, and a host of jobs not credibly considered “in the legal field.” A graduate falls into this category when the employer sought an individual with a J.D. (and perhaps even required a J.D.), or for which the J.D. provided a demonstrable advantage in obtaining or performing the job, but the job itself does not require bar passage, an active law license, or involve practicing law.
“[O]f those employed nine months after graduation . . . 90% were in full time positions.”
This likewise excludes non-employed graduates without indicating that 17.8% of the class has been excluded. Once again, 90% of employed actually means only 74% of the whole class.
“Our average starting salary for a 2011 graduate who enters private practice is in excess of $74,000, with many top students accepting positions with firms paying in excess of $130,000.”
There are a number of distinct problems with this statement. First, Camden does not accurately state what the average reflects. The average is “for a 2011 graduate who enters private practice and reported a salary” not “for a 2011 graduate who enters private practice.” This is not a trivial distinction. Only 46.6% of graduates in private practice reported a salary. Of those that did so, the numbers were slanted towards higher salaries at large firms. 83.3% of graduates at firms with 101 or more attorneys reported their salaries, while only 37.0% of those at smaller firms reported a salary. The low overall response rate and the bias towards higher salaries being reported mean that the average of responses is not the average “for a 2011 graduate who enters private practice.”
Second, Camden does not disclose the salary response rate. The private practice salary response rate (46.6%) indicates that private practice salaries don’t tell the whole story. The letter also does not state that only 24% of the class was in private practice. This means the “average starting salary” actually reflects the average salary for just 11.2% of the class. None of this was communicated to the recipients of Dean Andrews’ email.
Third, Camden uses the average salary figure without any statistical context. NALP, LST, and many other academics have belabored for many years about how average salaries tend to mislead more than inform. This is because reported salaries fall into a bimodal distribution. For the class of 2010 (across all law schools), there is one peak from $40,000 to $65,000, accounting for nearly half of reported salaries, and another distinct peak at $160,000. This bimodal distribution means that very few graduates make the mean salary of $84,111.
Based on the salary data Camden produces on its website, we see a similar distribution to the national picture across private practice salaries. There were 27 salaries provided; between 8 and 12 were above the $74,000 average by at least 30%; the rest were below the average, with 14 or more at least 20% below the average.
Fourth, Camden claims that many of its top students have accepted positions with firms paying “in excess of $130,000.” To be sure, “many” is ambiguous. It might reasonably mean 40% of the class, or even perhaps 20%. With the “top” qualifier, it might not even strain credibility to claim that 10% of the class constitutes “many” top students. Based on the published data, Camden knows that at most five graduates reported a salary of $130,000+, or 2.1% of the entire class. After analyzing the salary data in detail, we think just one graduate did. Whether it is one or five, “many” is far from accurate.
That said, we do know that eight graduates (or 3.3%) made at least $100,000. We also know that Camden grossly exaggerated the salary outcomes of its graduates right after exalting placement success and right before pointing out how its alumni are among the very richest of all lawyers. Of course, this is the same school that reported to U.S. News that its 2011 graduates had an average of only $27,423 in debt, even though the estimated total debt was well into the six figures for a New Jersey resident graduating in 2011 receiving no tuition discount. Fewer than a third (31.7%) of students received tuition discounts, with just 4.3% of students received more than a 50% discount on tuition.
“Rutgers is also ranked high in the nation at placing its students in prestigious federal and state clerkships.”
Like Camden, we only have the class of 2010 data to use to compare clerkship placement rankings. With federal clerkships, Camden does okay, tied for 33rd. In terms of percentage of students placed in federal clerkships, it’s as close to 16th place as it is to last (188th). Suffice it to say that this exaggeration caps off a legion of false, misleading, and incomplete information used to induce applicants who didn’t even take the LSAT.
LST has received a number of inquiries from schools since updating our employment data clearinghouse. In most instances the schools did not understand the data they were publishing, either on their websites or through U.S. News.
Of the inquiries we received, two complaints, which came from administrators at Santa Clara and Toledo, warranted updates/corrections. These schools informed us that we were using wrong or incomplete data. They were right in this regard, though the problems stemmed exclusively from what schools supplied to U.S. News.
In Toledo’s case, a law school representative misinterpreted questions on the U.S. News survey and therefore supplied the magazine with incorrect data. In Santa Clara’s case, the school had policies and procedures in place that led to under-reporting what the school actually knew about its graduates. In both cases we were able to work with the schools to identify the source of the problems and have corrected the errors with data supplied by the schools.
(We’d also like to mention that prior to releasing the class of 2010 data clearinghouse, we
contacted ten law schools that made the same mistake as Toledo with their U.S. News-supplied data. Four of these schools confirmed the discrepancies and have provided us with the correct data.)
We’ve added the following note to Santa Clara’s class of 2010 profile:
After joint review with Santa Clara, we have restored the school’s profile using data provided by Santa Clara following its internal review of each 2010 graduate’s student file. Rather than relying on student-supplied data, which is what the school reported to U.S. News and reported on its website (the original data in the school’s profile), Santa Clara added data the administration culled from conversations and basic investigation.
Note: One major change is with the 28 jobs Santa Clara originally reported as non-professional. Santa Clara tells us “[t]his was done in error.” While these graduates were still employed, Santa Clara does not know what sort of credentials (e.g. bar passage required) those graduates’ jobs required. However, Santa Clara does know 12 of these 28 graduates’ employer types (e.g. law firm) and expected working hours (i.e. FT or PT).
We are happy to report that Toledo chose to resolve questions about graduate employment outcomes by disclosing the 2010 NALP report, joining 47 other ABA-approved law schools who have done so. Toledo’s class of 2010 NALP report now appears in our report database and can be viewed here.
Finally, we welcome law schools to continue contacting us with their concerns. These conversations are always valuable and almost always lead to improving law school transparency.
In this month’s National Jurist, the magazine’s editors used the data from our Live Transparency Index to grade how transparent each law school website is. While we do not encourage or approve of ranking or grading schools based on the number of criteria met, because some criteria are more important than others, we did provide National Jurist with a spreadsheet of the data to ease their workload. These are the same data that were available on the Live Index as of the end of February 2012. As such, some schools have updated their websites since that time.
In other news, another school provided LST with its class of 2010 NALP report: St. Mary’s University. Over the next few weeks, we will be encouraging a letter writing campaign to convince other schools to provide us with their class of 2010 NALP reports. In the meantime, we are busy inputing the data from all NALP