Those of You Who Wanted Transparency…

The ABA’s website has updated its “Legal Education Statistics” page with a link to “2011 Law School Placement Data.” Readers can look at each law school’s placement numbers individually or download it all in a spreadsheet.

I haven’t been keeping too much track of the changes to the 509 reporting requirements, but I think these data are part way between the older standards and the newer ones. In other words, there’s no “Employed – JD Advantage” category, but the ABA is tracking how many graduates were employed by their law schools as of February 2011 or whenever nine months after graduation is.

Here’s the briefest of overviews.

I avoid diving too much into graduate placement data, mainly because (a) other people are a lot more interested in them than I am, and I don’t duplicate other people’s work, (b) it’s only for one point in time, and I’ve never really been a fan of “grad plus nine months” as being a particularly useful indicator to the long-term value of the juris doctor when available macro-level evidence tells me it’s low, and (c) I—and hopefully everyone who reads this agrees with me—have no clue what the ABA means by most of its terms. Big example: “short-term” and “long-term” employment. Like, those long-term employees at 501+-lawyer law firms could be receptionists. Hell, they might be making better money than the 1,183 solo practitioners or 5,681 in “business & industry.” Who has the final say on whether their job is short-term? The grad? What’s to stop the law schools from just making the numbers up? (Diligent readers will notice that Pontifical Catholic and Inter American had only one graduate between the two of them, not that the ABA appears to care.)

As for me, I’m patiently waiting for the first law schools that get caught gaming the new transparency requirements, e.g. by employing one another’s graduates and counting them in “Academia” jobs rather than “Law School/University Funded Short-Term” positions.

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