Law Students are Spoonfed Sunshine and Lollipops with Inflated Post-Graduation Employment Numbers. Now Read the Truth.
(UPDATE: 7/16/07 Law Schools taken to task for fudged numbers and now U.S. News and World Reports make law schools accountable with new rules.)
Gerry Riskin at Amazing Firms and Amazing Practices recently posted on the 'fabulous' employment rates of law school graduates....a stunning 90% of graduates at the 9 month post-graduation mark...up over 5% from 2000. (Hat tip to Stephanie West Allen over at Idealawg for Gerry's post.)
Well, the old adage goes, 'first there is the lie, then the bigger lie, then statistics.' In a recent article by the National Law Journal we learn the truth behind the numbers. And it's not pretty. No mega salaries, no permanent employment.
But the eye-popping salaries are the reality for a small fraction of law school graduates, and all those stories of big money may be creating unrealistic hopes for the vast majority of law school students. Contributing to the situation is the effort by law schools to portray their employment numbers as robustly as possible to boost their ranking scores.
The upshot means dashed expectations for lots of graduates, many of whom are saddled with high debt as they struggle to start their careers.
What is even more startling is the manipulation by the Law schools of these figures. I knew it was bad as they paid homage to those all important U.S. News and World Reports rankings, but this is pathetic.
But he and many in academia take issue with the way U.S. News & World Report tracks employment information, which may be prompting schools to create an artificially bright employment picture. U.S. News publishes rankings each year of professional schools and graduate schools.
Critics say that not only does the publication's data fail to distinguish the types of jobs that constitute employment, fudging occurs in the "not seeking" category. Schools may too quickly label some graduates as "not seeking" work in order to remove them from the equation.
In addition, several sources interviewed said that they have known schools to hire their own graduates for short-term research assignments in order to boost employment numbers.
"It's amazing how there were schools at 70% [employment] a few years ago that are now at 90%," said Marcelyn Cox, assistant dean of career planning at University of Miami School of Law. "That's just impossible."
And where are those who go solo crammed into the statistics? After Career Counseling eye-rolling, I would venture to say they are lumped into the 56% who are employed in 'private practice' or the catch-all 'not seeking.' Too bad we can't see the real numbers broken out properly. So much more could be done with honest numbers and the students could make responsible decisions with not just their post-graduation odyssey but during their law school career. Whatever happened to the integrity of the academic institution? Anyone care to enlighten me?
And if you are a law student, start demanding the truth about your school's post-graduation employment numbers. Find out where students are getting employed. Find out the real 'average' salaries. Find out how many are hanging a shingle right out of law school or shortly thereafter. Find out everything you can so you can make responsible decisions about your future. Your professional life is yours alone. Take control of it. And the first step begins with demanding honest information.