Law Schools Are on Notice

Today, we officially requested that law schools commit to complying with LST’s new standard for employment reporting. This email was sent to every ABA-approved and provisionally-approved law school’s dean, admissions department, and career services department. It was accompanied by the LST Standard’s tentative guidelines, sample lists, a short essay on the benefits of the new standard, sample discussion about LST, and the press release we’ve distributed.

Attention Deans and Directors:

Law School Transparency (“LST”) is a Tennessee non-profit corporation dedicated to encouraging and facilitating the transparent flow of law school employment information. Pursuant to this goal, we respectfully request that your law school commit to complying with LST’s new standard for employment reporting.

The current ABA and U.S. News employment reporting standards are seriously limited by their form and substance. These standards aggregate employment outcomes, overemphasize certain portions of the class, and make it difficult to answer meaningful questions about employment prospects. The most important features of our standard help resolve these deficiencies. We arrived at the standard’s features by considering the interests of law school administrators, employers, and students, and balanced those concerns with legitimate consumer expectations. In doing so, we have taken special care to ensure that law schools are capable of complying with the new standard without introducing too many new administrative costs.

Starting with the Class of 2010, we request that your school report to LST two lists with data about every graduate as of February 15, 2011. We formulated the list components with strong consideration to the data law schools already collect about a very large percentage of graduates. Your school already reports seven of the nine unique components to NALP. The two additional components – “Salary Source” and “Journal Status” – require minimal adaptation. To further reduce compliance costs, our standard requests data for graduates from the same time period, and as of the same date, as the ABA, NALP, and U.S. News request.

Job List
1. Employer Type
2. Employer Name
3. Position
4. Credentials
5. Full-Time / Part-Time
6. Office Location (City, State, Country)
7. Salary Source
8. Journal

Salary List
1. Employer Type
2. Office Location (City, State, Country)
3. Full-Time / Part-Time
4. Salary

Attached to this request are tentative guidelines for fairly, accurately, and uniformly reporting data under our standard. The guidelines will be finalized by November 15, 2010. Until then, we reserve the right to clarify how your school can best fill out each component. The finalized 2010 guidelines will serve as The Official LST Standard; compliance with The Official LST Standard will authorize your law school to use our certification mark. LST will not charge law schools a fee for Mark certification.

LST asks that your office respond to within sixty (60) days of delivery. During the interim period, we encourage you to consult with your administration, your students, your alumni, and other law schools. If you decide not to commit to disclosing according to the LST Standard, we respectfully request that you provide your reasons for declining to disclose. We recognize that not all schools will share our view that there is a need for greater transparency. If your school disagrees with our position, we would like to have an open, on-the-record dialogue to debate the merits of our respective positions.

Our website – – will be updated at the end of the 60-day period with a summary of the responses we received, broken down by school. We will educate the public with what we learned from each law school, including correspondence that aids prospective students and the legal profession as they try to distinguish among schools by their reactions to this request. As a reminder, we reserve the right to publish any of our correspondence with your law school.

We look forward to hearing from your law school by September 10, 2010. In the meantime, please send any comments or concerns to .


Patrick J. Lynch, J.D.

Kyle McEntee

LST and its administrators operate independently of any legal institutions, legal employers, or academic reports related to the legal market. This email was sent to each ABA-approved and provisionally-approved law school’s dean, admissions department, and career services department.

30 thoughts on “Law Schools Are on Notice”

  1. Why would a law school even have this information to give to you? I certainly haven’t shared things like my salary or other terms of my employment. It didn’t even occur to me to tell them where I’m working post graduation. Why would it? It’s nobody’s business but my own.

  2. My law school claimed that my class (2009) had an employment rate of over 90% nine months after graduation. However, the law school also stated that 40% of the class of 2009 are currently employed at judicial clerks. Anecdotally, I have heard that most clerks are not being offered permanent employment. While it may be true that 90% plus are employed after graduation, that figure would certainly drop at the 15 month mark.

    The LST survey does not (to my knowledge) ask for post-clerkship employment information, which gives the schools a pretty big opening to mislead.

    I’m not sure if there is anything that can be done about this or if this issue is unique to my school and/or state.

  3. @7 Clerkships certainly offer an interesting wrench in any post-graduation information. There are a few clerkship paths; some clerks are short term (1 or 2 years) and others – often called career clerks – are longer. The latter are rarer generally, but especially for people right out of law school. It is true that most clerks are not offered permanent employment, and this is not unique to your school or state. But it isn’t clear that any standard should penalize schools for placing their graduates in these jobs.

    At least for federal clerks, these graduates are desirable job candidates after their experience. Not only is there an element of prestige associated with the job, but employers genuinely value the experience and connections that come with the clerkship. On the same note, our research shows that state clerkships see the largest benefit if you wish to work in that state post-clerkship.

    At this point, we have not considered explaining these nuances on our site. But anybody with a little research should be able to find this out. However, your comment does provide the impetus for us to explain this to our visitors.

  4. Admin:
    I appreciate your response. My main concern is that perspective students see high graduate employment rates on school websites, when the reality is that a lot of people do not have permanent jobs come September after their clerkships. (In case I was misunderstood in my original comment, I was referring to permanent jobs with firms or government bodies, not permanent clerkship positions). I think schools are giving a false sense of future job security.

    And, no, I do not think shools should be penalized for placing students in clerkships. I’m told that they are incredibly rewarding experiences, especially if you hope to practice in that jurisdiction down the line. However, I think law schools should be honest about where clerkships ultimately lead. The “9 months after graduation” figures do not address that point.


  5. Dear LST:

    Why in God’s name would my school even consider complying with your absurd request?

    Essentially every law school

  6. @10: Because if this succeeds it would be something like a Law School Zagat rating…

    People probably said the same thing as you about the US News Ratings at first.

    At least these guys are making a legitimate effort at correcting what most people complaining (and that’s ALL they’re doing) say is a major issue.


  7. If you decide you want to get some local representatives to assist you at individual law school campuses, etc. please let us know.

    I’d be happy to provide some kind of assistance that way, or if you are in need of financial support.


    And yeah…what do you mean, #12! :)

  8. Please, lets all remain substantive here:

    One thing I wondered also—although some Deans have called for greater transparency of ABA accredited schools in general—I could see the most competitive schools holding out and waiting for the lower tiered schools to proceed, because this would just create an inference that their stats are better. Surely some of the top 10 law schools in NYC would not want people to know that some of theirs are unemployed, or that some maybe were victims of late in a Craigslist legal job board scam…

    If anything, I think that this calls for consumer protection regulations that govern the parameters of what the higher education industry’s glossy manuals are allowed to state and embellish in terms of statistics and data, the same way mandatory disclosures are required for the banking and insurance industries. Any overwhelming non-response to this transparency initiative is “pudding proof” of a negative industrial trend requiring regulatory oversight as the ultimate (and only) recourse.

    Additionally, I would ensure that the link is provided on every possible pre-law job board (including the overhwelming majority owned by the student loan companies in an effort to control the conversation to competitive gain), and to ensure that this site gets an SEO optimization overhaul so that the pre-law inquiring minds (and parents of) have a chance in hell of seeing this site in any google search.

  9. The developments in the job market, including the apparent bleeding of discovery work offshore, coupled with the burgeoning India market (300,000 law grads annually? please check statistics on this) have severely curtailed the type and number of positions for US law grads. The results are heartbreaking: one 3L not long ago posted requests for information on how to commit suicide – because he had no job prospects and a burden of $100K on his back.

    What troubles me the most is the alacrity with which young college graduates turn to law school without considering the years of debt servitude they will experience.

    The information the Transparency Project seeks to make public is, in my opinion, vital to providing law school applicants with a hard-headed and realistic view of what their job prospects are.

    A further comment: At one third-tier law school, when students ask about their job prospects, one professor urges them to consider the world market rather than the US or their local job market.

  10. Have you thought about approaching law school grads directly yourself to collect this information? Obviously it won’t be statistically reliable but it could provide a snapshot and additionally could show the law schools that it’s not as arduous to collect the data as they claim?

  11. 1. Employer Type: Big Retail
    2. Employer Name: Bed, Bath & Beyond
    3. Position: Retail Clerkship
    4. Credentials: J.D. ’10, B.S. Marketing, ’05, Applebee’s server
    5. Full-Time / Part-Time: 39 hours, no benefits, no vacation
    6. Office Location (City, State, Country): Redacted for privacy
    7. Salary Source: Variable
    8. Journal:

  12. Good job, but they will never give you the numbers. I would like to point out that people get too bent out of shape about idea that the schools treat graduates with non-legal jobs as “employed.” This would be a problem if the schools were mildly honest. However, the schools simply make up all of the numbers. It doesn’t matter who has a non-legal job or who is unemployed, rest assured that he or she will be counted as employed and making at least $75k, no matter what. I am at a top-15 school where the employment in ’10 was probably under 50%, yet every school on the list, including mine, will report above 90% employment with a median salary of $165k. Good luck.

  13. Even if you get commitments from the law schools to provide this data, who’s to say it will be accurate?

    All employment data for ABA and US News is self-reported. There is no verifiable reporting mechanism, is there? Look at the schools that dropped the most in USN 2012 rankings. Look at the correlation with the numbers they reported in past years of grads who were unemployed but not seeking employment. With USN’s change in methodology (which now includes these grads, but didn’t count them until this year) these schools were caught short. How can 5-10% of a graduating class be unemployed but “not seeking employment”? Imho, this was a way to play the numbers.

    Which, if true, just points out that this data is basically worthless. Even if you get a school to commit to providing what you want, who’s to say it will report honestly?

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