The responses are quite different in tone, and to some extent in substance. Columbia, to its credit, did not use the occasion to express outrage over the fact that anyone would dare to ask questions regarding discrepancies in the reporting of employment outcomes for law school graduates. The substance of the school's response is brief:
The NLJ did not discuss with us the difference between their numbers and ours for the Class of 2010, but we had detailed discussions with them about the Class of 2011 and discovered a number of reasons why their numbers are wrong. For example, 24 of the NLJ 250 firms did not respond to the NLJ’s survey. In addition, the NLJ did not count as “employed” some full-time, permanent, first year associates who were awaiting admission to the bar. The reason is that some firms use the term “law clerk” to describe them (in order to avoid an ethical issue about describing employees not yet admitted to the bar as “lawyers”).NYU's response is another matter. Readers can decide for themselves what both the tone and substance of that response reveals. Here I'll address a couple of the response's more curious details. NYU writes:
To gather its data, the NLJ contacts each of the NLJ 250 law firms. But not all release this information. NLJ editor-in-chief David Brown told NYU Law that in this year's survey, the results of which he just published, 71 of these 250 firms provided no school-specific 2011 hiring data. And, if a firm didn’t participate and a law school declined to say how many graduates it sent to that firm, the NLJ simply recorded that as a zero. “If we didn’t have information from the law firm or the law school, we didn’t publish information we didn’t have,” Brown said. Presto: a sizeable group of entry-level lawyers vanish into the ether.First, note that the number of non-disclosing NLJ250 firms seems to vary a lot depending on whether the source for this information is Columbia, which says 24 of the 250 firms didn't disclose in 2011, and NYU, which says NLJ's editor told them 71 didn't disclose. (The fact that a paragraph later the letter states that 21 firms that hired NYU graduates were missing from the list the NLJ shared with NYU makes one wonder if the "71" figure is a typo, although of course not all non-reporting firms necessarily hired an NYU graduate).
How did this disappearing act affect NYU’s numbers? It happens that quite a few of the firms that do not release data to the NLJ are major New York-based firms that typically hire a lot of NYU Law grads. We have strong, longstanding relationships with these firms, and if they did not provide the data, we similarly did not disclose it. During its data-gathering process this year, the NLJ sent us a list of NLJ 250 firms that had reported hiring NYU Law 2011 graduates, including the number at each firm. But 21 NLJ 250 firms that hired a total of 58 of our 2011 graduates were missing from the list, and, when asked, the NLJ told us that was because these firms did not provide information. For the 2010 data that Campos cites, five of these firms alone hired 49 NYU Law 2010 graduates, erasing almost the entire discrepancy Campos cites.
The letter goes on to say that earlier this year NYU determined that in regard to the class of 2011 -- keep in mind my questions were regarding the class of 2010 -- non-disclosing firms hired 58 NYU grads, and that the school asked the NLJ why these grads weren't listed as working for NLJ250 firms. This would seem to contradict the statement earlier in the same paragraph that "we have strong, longstanding relationships with these [non-disclosing] firms, and if they did not provide the data, we similarly did not disclose it." Apparently NYU did disclose this data to the NLJ in regard to the class of 2011, despite its impliedly confidential working relationship with the non-responding firms.
Anyway none of this involves the class of 2010. Did the five firms that didn't report to the NLJ in 2011 that hired 49 NYU grads in 2010 also not report that year? This seems like a natural inference, but given that NYU doesn't say we can assume the school doesn't actually know. That question becomes more interesting if one examines the analogous data for NYU's class of 2008. NYU reports that 75% of its 458 employed graduates were working for law firms, and that 92.4% of those graduates were working for firms of more than 250 attorneys, i.e., NLJ250 firms. This comes out to a total of 317 graduates. How many NYU class of 2008 graduates did the NLJ report working for NLJ250 firms? 317.
This curious fact serves as a reminder that there was essentially no discrepancy between the law school-reported numbers and the NLJ numbers for any of the other top 11 law schools' classes of 2010, with the partial exception of Harvard. Did the five firms that hired 49 NYU grads in 2010 and didn't report their numbers in 2011 collectively hire no Yale, or Chicago, or Michigan, or Duke grads in 2010? Why do the factors referenced by Columbia and NYU -- non-reporting firms, listing of graduates as law clerks rather than attorneys, etc.-- seem to affect only their graduates, or at least affect their graduates in such great disproportion, when it comes to the NLJ numbers? (This isn't a rhetorical question by the way).
This would be a good time to emphasize yet again a point I have already made explicitly, and more than once, in regard to all these questions:
Some commenters responding to the original thread on this topic assumed I was accusing Columbia and NYU of intentionally cooking their numbers. I didn't and I'm not. What I'd like to know is why one out of every five BigLaw jobs that Columbia and NYU reported to NALP in 2010 has gone missing in the NLJ stats. There are lots of possible explanations for this that don't include outright fraud by the schools themselves (For instance one possibility is that unusually large percentages of Columbia and NYU grads are taking new non-partner track associate positions, which the NLJ doesn't count when surveying firms).I'm pleased to see that the two schools have now provided answers, the adequacy of which interested parties can judge for themselves. In any case, one would think we were well past the point where law schools had cause to feel put upon to be asked these kinds of questions, and to be expected to answer them.
Simply refusing to answer the question, however, isn't a very good way of getting people to give you the benefit of the doubt.