LST’s New Information Source for Law Students and Attorneys

Law School Transparency (LST), the widely recognized advocacy organization improving the legal profession through public education about law schools, officially announced its new podcast, “I Am The Law,” a show about the role legal professionals play in the legal ecosystem.

“I Am The Law” features interviews with attorneys in various fields. Each episode details one practitioner’s day-to-day tasks as well the unique challenges associated with his or her specialization. The show interviews traditional lawyers, such as public defenders and corporate litigators, as well as non-traditional lawyers.

Through “I Am The Law,” LST offers a completely new information source for prospective law students, current law students, and practicing attorneys. Many enter the legal profession without an adequate understanding of the daily practice of law. “I Am The Law” serves to eliminate that information void. Rather than relying on Law & Order or The Good Wife to learn about the legal profession, the audience will learn from revealing interviews that go well beyond conventional generalities.

Listeners can find “I Am The Law” on iTunes, Stitcher, and many podcasting apps. Listeners can also find episodes on LSTRadio.com. Four full-length episodes are available now, and a new episode will be released every Monday.

In concert with the LST Score Reports, a consumer’s guide to deciding whether and where to attend law school that serves tens of thousands of prospective law students every year, “I Am The Law” will help students to pursue careers based on facts rather than fictions.

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Law School Transparency’s mission is to make entry to the legal profession more transparent, affordable, and fair. For more information or an interview, contact Kyle McEntee.

New Law School Jobs Data Indicate Flat Entry-Level Legal Market

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – LST has made class of 2013 job outcome data available for 200 ABA-approved law schools on LSTScoreReports.com. The LST Score Reports help students make smarter application and enrollment choices using admissions, employment, and cost information.

LST’s analysis of class of 2013 data collected by the American Bar Association sheds considerable light on how difficult the job market remains for law school graduates. These graduates fared 0.8% better than last year’s graduates on the key lawyer jobs statistic: 57.0% of 2013 graduates were employed in full-time, long-term legal jobs. Exclude jobs funded by the law schools from this figure and it is 55.3%—just a 0.2% improvement from the class of 2012.

A devastating 26.8% were either underemployed (short-term or part-time or non-professional jobs) or not employed (unemployed or pursuing an additional degree). Unemployment is up to 13.7% from 13.2%, while underemployment is down to 11.4% from 12.5%.

Full-time, Long-Term Legal Jobs:

The national full-time, long-term legal rate is 57.0%.

  • By definition these jobs:
    • require bar passage or are judicial clerkships; and
    • require 35+ hours per week and have an expected duration of at least one year.
  • At 64 law schools (31.8%), 50% of graduates or less had these legal jobs.
    • 33 schools (16.4%) had 40% or less;
    • 13 schools (6.5%) had 33% or less.
  • 103 schools (51.2%) exceeded the national rate of 57.0%.
    • 51 schools (25.4%) had 66% or more;
    • 21 schools (10.4%) had 75% or more;
    • 5 schools (2.5%) had 90% or more.

The national full-time, long-term legal rate, excluding jobs funded by law schools, is 55.3%.

  • The richest schools were able to hire their struggling graduates full time and long term; only 18 schools (9.0%) paid 5.0% or more of their graduates for long-term, full-time jobs that required bar passage.
    • 50% of these schools (9) were in the top 20 on the full-time, long-term rate without the benefit of the school-funded jobs; including school-funded jobs in the rate puts 67% of those schools (12) in the top 20.
    • Excluding school-funded jobs from the full-time, long-term legal rate caused all 5 schools over 90% to drop below that threshold.
  • Although the absolute number of full-time, long-term legal jobs funded by schools was relatively small (775, 2.0% of all employed graduates), there were 50% more of these jobs this year compared to last year.

Underemployed or Not Employed:

  • The national rate is 26.8%.
  • A graduate counts as underemployed when he or she in a non-professional job or employed in a short-term or part-time job.
  • A graduate counts as not employed when he or she is unemployed or pursuing an additional advanced degree.
  • 192 schools (95.5%) reported a rate of 10% or more.
    • 163 schools (81.1%) had 20% or more;
    • 129 schools (64.2%) had 25% or more;
    • 74 schools (36.8%) had 33% or more;
    • 36 schools (17.9%) had 40% or more;
    • 14 schools (7.0%) had 50% or more.
  • 30 schools (14.9%) had more underemployed and non-employed graduates than graduates employed in long-term, full-time legal jobs.
    • Last year, 24 schools qualified.
    • If we compare all long-term, full-time professional jobs (legal or not), 16 schools (8.0%) qualify.

Large Firms (at least 101 attorneys):

  • 12.9% of graduates were employed at large firms in full-time, long-term positions
    • Graduates seek these jobs partly because they tend to pay the highest salaries.
    • Note that not all of these jobs are associate positions. An unknown number are paralegals, administrators, and staff attorneys.
    • This number is up 0.7%, from 12.2% last year. These jobs are particularly unevenly distributed across law schools. Graduates from 25 schools account for over 60% of these jobs; graduates from 10 schools account for 37% of these jobs.
  • At only 63 schools (31.3%) were 10% or more graduates in these jobs.
    • 28 schools (13.9%) had 20% or more;
    • 16 schools (8.0%) had 33% or more;
    • 9 schools (4.5%) had 50% or more;
    • 2 schools (1.0%) had 60% or more.

Although the class of 2013 is the largest ever at 46,776 graduates, it was only 0.8% larger than the class of 2012. The raw number of long-term, full-time legal jobs increased slightly by 574 jobs to 26,653. If we exclude positions funded by law schools, the raw number increased by just 319 jobs to 25,878. Overall, class of 2013 job statistics indicate a flat legal job market.

The future remains grim for prospective law students. Law school enrollment was nearly 40,000 in the most recent year. The current entry-level legal market cannot support such large classes.

In addition to recent job outcome data, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects only 19,650 new law jobs per year between 2012 and 2022, a number that is 10% less than an estimate two years ago that projected 21,880 new jobs per year between 2010 and 2020. That ten-year prediction was 9% less than an estimate a few years prior that projected 24,040 new lawyer jobs per year between 2008 and 2018.

These new jobs include all legal jobs, whether full-time or part-time, permanent or temporary. The BLS labor economists base occupation predictions on econometric models, together with continuous monitoring of the workplace. The macroeconomic model predictions aim to reflect how many new entrants the economy will support in each occupation. These estimates account for economic growth, structural change, retirement, and a host of other variables.

Labor market weaknesses amplify the troubling cost of obtaining a legal education in the United States. Students entering this fall (who graduate in 2017) will likely fare better on the job market. But even if every law school graduate obtained a job, the sky-high cost of legal education means that expected salaries for law school graduates threaten economic hardship. For many, it will be impossible to fulfill their student loan obligations without relying on the generosity of federal hardship programs, which Congress may greatly scale back in the near future.

The message from Law School Transparency to prospective law students remains the same: if you choose to go to law school, carefully assess the costs and the benefits. Focus on where graduates work (geographically) because 2 in 3 employed graduates work in the state in which their law school is located. Use our resources to study law school job outcomes, engage in financial planning, and negotiate the best deal you can with the law schools that can meet your career goals.

For the vast majority of prospective law students who have not received a sizable scholarship, it makes sense to wait for prices to drop further. If you decide to attend, it is essential to negotiate scholarship terms, not just the scholarship amount. You should seek to reduce or eliminate GPA or class rank stipulations, as well as to ensure that your scholarship will grow in proportion to law school tuition increases.

+ School profiles: http://www.LSTScoreReports.com/schools/.
+ Comparison charts: http://www.LSTScoreReports.com/national/.

 

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Established in 2009, Law School Transparency is a nonprofit legal education policy and watchdog organization. Our mission is to make entry to the legal profession more transparent, affordable, and fair.

LST Revamps Law School Decision Tool

With law school application deadlines looming, a tough legal job market, and high education costs, prospective students need useful information to make smart choices about whether or where to attend law school.

Today, prospective law students receive essential help with making informed decisions with the launch of Law School Transparency‘s fully customizable Score Reports (http://www.LSTScoreReports.com).

Attending law school is a life-changing decision that deserves fair and clear presentation of relevant information. The Score Reports organize admissions, employment, and cost data to show the big picture and the fine detail. The Score Reports help prospective law students find the schools that can meet their career goals and evaluate the projected time and financial commitment.

We have added the following features:

  • Financial Planning Worksheets. These help students plan their budgets and see how much debt will be owed when the first loan payment is due, as well as how much that payment will be.
  • Custom Scores and Reports. Students can choose what matters most to them. From large firm and public service placement to LSAT and GPA statistics, students can create reports and change them to see how schools stack up. To compare apples to apples, students can also create custom scores based on the types of jobs they value.
  • Compare up to 4 law schools at once on our head-to-head page.
  • Enhanced school reports that provide mountains of admissions, employment, and cost data. Elements include salary information, job trends, enrollment trends, and a projected debt table.
  • Scholarship negotiation help. Because almost all law schools use a high tuition, high discount model, students must negotiate scholarship amounts and scholarship terms (GPA/class rank requirements, escalation with tuition increases).

Note that the LST Score Reports are not rankings. Indeed, we believe national rankings and law schools do not make any sense. Law schools function in local markets; few schools have a national reach. 2 in 3 employed graduates work in the state where their school is located.

Law School Transparency is a Georgia nonprofit legal education policy and watchdog organization. Our mission is to make entry to the legal profession more transparent, affordable, and fair. We’re best known for advocating for increased employment data transparency. The LST Score Reports are the product of our advocacy successes.

Law School Graduates Continue to Face Brutal Entry-Level Market

LST has made Class of 2012 job outcome data (as of 9 months after graduation) available about the 200 ABA-approved law schools. School-specific profiles and regional comparisons can be viewed on the LST Score Reports, http://lstscorereports.com. The Score Reports are a popular law school decision tool based on employment data. They are not rankings and aid students to make decisions on a local and regional basis, rather than on a meaningless national scale.

The Class of 2012 outcome data shed considerable light on how difficult the job market remains for law school graduates. These graduates fared 1% better than last year’s graduates in lawyer jobs: 56.2% of 2012 graduates were be employed in full-time, long-term lawyer jobs. Exclude jobs funded by the law schools from this figure and it is 55.1%. A devastating 27.7% were either underemployed (short-term or part-time job, or non-professional) or not employed (unemployed or pursuing an additional degree). The national non-response rate was 2.6%.

Full-time, Long-Term Legal Jobs:

The national full-time, long-term legal rate is 56.2%.

  • These jobs
    • require bar passage or are judicial clerkships; and
    • require 35+ hours per week and have an expected duration of at least one year.
  • At 66 law schools (33.0%), less than 50% of graduates had these legal jobs.
    • 26 schools (13.0%) had less than 40%;
    • 11 schools (5.5%) had less than 33%.
  • 95 schools (47.5%) exceeded the national rate of 56.2%.
    • 50 schools (25.0%) had more than 66%;
    • 20 schools (10.0%) had more than 75%;
    • 6 schools (3.0%) had more than 90%.

Last month, the ABA agreed to further disaggregate school-funded jobs data. The new format sheds light on how many of the school-funded jobs were Bar Passaged Required, J.D. Advantage, Professional, and Non-Professional. Like last year, these categories are also broken down by whether they are full- or part-time and long- or short-term.

The national full-time, long-term legal rate, excluding school-funded jobs, is 55.1%.

  • The richest schools were able to hire their struggling graduates full time and long term; only 15 schools (7.5%) had 5% or more of their graduates in long-term, full-time, school-funded jobs that required bar passage.
    • Many of these schools were top performers on the full-time, long-term rate.
    • Excluding the school-funded jobs from this rate caused five of the six schools over 90% to drop below that threshold; two of those five dropped below 80%.

Underemployed or Not Employed:

  • The national rate is 27.7%.
  • A graduate counts as underemployed when he or she in a non-professional job or employed in a short-term or part-time job.
  • A graduate counts as not employed when he or she is unemployed or pursuing an additional advanced degree.
  • 187 schools (93.5%) reported a rate greater than 10%.
    • 153 schools (76.5%) had more than 20%;
    • 112 schools (56.0%) had more than 25%;
    • 58 schools (29.0%) had more than 33%;
    • 27 schools (13.5%) had more than 40%;
    • 8 schools (4.0%) had more than 50%.
  • 24 schools had more underemployed and non-employed graduates than graduates employed in long-term, full-time legal jobs.

Large Firms (at least 101 attorneys):

  • 12.2% of graduates were employed at large firms in full-time, long-term positions
    • Graduates seek these jobs partly because they tend to pay the highest salaries.
    • Note that not all of these jobs are associate positions. An unknown number are paralegals, administrators, and staff attorneys.
  • At only 51 schools (25.5%) were more than 10% in these jobs.
    • 27 schools (13.5%) had more than 20%;
    • 14 schools (7.0%) had more than 33%;
    • 8 schools (4.0%) had more than over 50%.

Despite 2012 graduates taking 2,000 more long-term, full-time legal jobs than 2011 graduates, the percentage improvement was just 1% because there were 5.4% more 2012 graduates than in 2011. The Class of 2012 does not represent the apex for new J.D.’s either; only after the class of 2013 will the number of graduates drop, though the total still looks to be in substantial disproportion to the number of jobs available in our quickly evolving profession.

The students entering this fall (who graduate in 2016) will likely fare better on the job market because fewer prospective students are deciding to take the LSAT, to apply to law school, and to attend now that post-graduation realities are transparent. But even if every law school graduate obtained a job, the sky-high cost of legal education means that expected salaries for law school graduates portend economic hardship. For many, it will be impossible to fulfill their student loan obligations without gambling on the continuation of federal hardship programs.

Law School Transparency’s executive director, Kyle McEntee, urged caution to students planning to enroll this fall. McEntee said, “Law school is too expensive relative to job outcomes. If you plan to debt-finance your education or use 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 a sizable scholarship, it makes sense to wait for prices to drop.”

+ School profiles: http://www.lstscorereports.com/?r=schools.
+ Comparison charts: http://www.lstscorereports.com/?r=other.

Established in 2009, Law School Transparency is a nonprofit legal education policy organization. Our mission is to improve consumer information and reform the traditional law school model. We operate independently of any legal institutions, legal employers, or academic reports related to the legal market.

Law School Transparency releases annual index of law school disclosure

The Transparency Index reflects Law School Transparency’s review of law school websites, through which we analyze the employment information that law schools use to market their programs. We measure not only whether law schools meet voluntary transparency standards, but also whether they meet the requirements from ABA Standard 509.

Our project has three important parts:

During the initial review period, we found that 78.4% (156/199) of ABA-approved law schools were not meeting the expectations set forth by Standard 509. We contacted ever school’s dean, admissions office, and career services office with an offer to help them meet our criteria. 102 law schools took us up on our offer, and to date 84 of these schools have updated the consumer information on their websites.

See also:

Complaint Filed With ABA Against Rutgers — Camden

On Monday, LST will file a complaint with the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar against Rutgers — Camden over a recruiting email sent earlier this year. You can view the complaint here.

We allege that Rutgers School of Law – Camden violated Standard 509 and Interpretation 509-4. A law school administrator made misleading statements about the successes of the school’s graduates. The same administrator also made a false statement about graduate salary outcomes when she asserted that many top graduates accepted jobs at firms making in excess of $130,000, when in fact zero graduates reported earning more than $130,000.

Timeline of Events

May 18, 2012. Above the Law story on email from Dean Camille Andrews to prospective students.

May 20, 2012. LST called for the resignation of Dean Andrews

May 22, 2012. Insider Higher Ed published a story with a response from the dean of Rutgers – Camden, Rayman Solomon.

May 22, 2012. LST responds to Dean Solomon.

Late May. Dean Solomon commissions a report by three senior faculty members to be delivered to LST.

June 8, 2012. LST receives the faculty report from Rutgers — Camden.

June 11, 2012. LST does an open records request and eventually obtains records that confirm the faculty report and that the original email contained false statements in addition to misleading statements.

Table of Contents for Complaint

I. Misleading and False Statements
A. Employment Data
B. Responses by Rutgers – Camden to LST Allegations
C. Analysis
II. Aggravating Factors
III. Mitigating Factors
IV. Conclusion

New Alternative to U.S. News Law School Rankings

Today, Law School Transparency announces an alternative to the U.S. News law school rankings: The LST Score Reports.

LST has developed the Score Reports in an effort to produce a tool to help prospective students make application and enrollment decisions, keeping in mind that each person has a different risk tolerance, financial situation, and set of career aspirations.

The Score Reports are user-friendly tools for sorting law school employment outcomes, projected costs, and admissions stats. There is a Score Report for every state (includes only schools that place graduates there), every school (called a profile), and job types. They measure job outcomes, use a regional scope, and use real terms about the outcomes to allow prospective students to make an educated decision about not just which school to attend, but whether any school happens to meet their needs.

The Score Reports are not rankings, although they do serve as an alternative to conventional law school rankings. But unlike rankings, the Score Reports do not reduce complex data to a single metric. Instead, the Score Reports focus on observable relationships to specific legal markets and job types. Only a small handful of schools have a truly national reach in job placement. The rest have a regional, in-state, or even just local reach. A decision tool should not obfuscate this reality; it should embrace it.

You can view the Score Reports, and read more about them, by following these links:

The Score Reports: http://www.lstscorereports.com
Guide to Using the Score Reports: http://www.lstscorereports.com/?r=guides&show=12
The Value of the U.S. News rankings: http://www.lstscorereports.com/?r=guides&show=13
Methodology, Published in the Journal of Legal Metrics: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2106814

Founded in 2009, Law School Transparency is a nonprofit legal education policy organization dedicated to improving consumer information and to reforming the traditional law school model. LST and its administrators operate independently of any legal institutions, legal employers, or academic reports related to the legal market. The LST Score Reports are a new project from LST Reform Central.

Class of 2011 legal employment and underemployment numbers are in, and far worse than expected

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%

Underemployed:

  • 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.