Data Sources and Process
Published on September 1, 2021
This website uses a variety of data sources to produce the most comprehensive collection of post-graduation employment data ever compiled and published on a school-by-school basis. Depending on the year, we collected and reconciled data from up to five sources: the ABA, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. News, school websites, and school reports. Because the ABA, U.S. News, and NALP are all on different reporting deadlines, and schools have the ability to update their websites whenever they please, the data do not necessarily fit into one perfectly cohesive picture. We reconciled incompatible data as fairly as possible, resolving conflicts in favor of the more comprehensive dataset. (E.g., we usually give preference to the data provided by schools in NALP reports.) In no case have there been more than a few percentage points difference, usually spread out across multiple data categories.
Employment Data Collection by Law Schools
Any discussion about employment data collection begins with NALP's relationship to its member law schools. For more than 40 years, NALP has collected post-graduation outcome data from these schools in great detail. Only recently—starting with the class of 2010—did the ABA begin requiring law schools to report graduate-level data in connection to accreditation. While not nearly as extensive as the NALP dataset, it covers much of what matters to prospective students making decisions among law schools. Unfortunately, the ABA does not disclose all that it collects but it does publish employment PDFs for each law school. We replicate these PDFs on every law school profile.
Although NALP annually publishes the aggregate and average information from all law schools, NALP agrees to keep all graduate-level data and each school's NALP Report private. While NALP is bound by confidentiality agreements and cannot release any school-specific data or information, the same is not true for the schools. Accordingly, much of the battle for employment data transparency over the past few years has been about convincing schools to make public the employment data they already possess.
The NALP dataset consumes the entire ABA dataset. In addition to all of the ABA data categories, NALP also collects data about each graduate's race/ethnicity, gender, age, disability status, program type at graduation (part- or full-time), special job funding, job offer timing, annual starting salary, source of job, and whether employed graduates are seeking another job. We catalog the NALP data categories that appear in the glossary.
For the class of 2013 and earlier, employment data were collected as of the first February 15th following graduation (roughly nine months later). Starting with the class of 2014, employment data is collected as of the first March 15th following graduation (roughly ten months later).
Career services officers go to great efforts to collect data from graduates in accordance with ABA and NALP definitions and processes. In addition to asking (and re-asking) graduates to fill out the survey, the career services officers play detective and seek data from reliable sources to fill in any gaps. Once collected, law schools submit the data to the ABA and to NALP. The ABA publishes the data relatively soon after receipt. Once NALP receives the data, its researchers cleanse the data and provide report summaries to each school within three months. This accounts for many of the differences between employment data on the ABA reports, NALP reports, and school websites.
Other Data Collection by Law Schools
Admissions data, such as entering class LSAT scores, GPAs, and enrollment size, and financial data, such as tuition & fees, indirect expenses, and discounts come mostly from the ABA, which collects the data from the schools on its annual questionnaire. We also collect some data directly from schools and school websites.