Saturday, February 23, 2013

A note on the reliability of the employment data reported by law schools

You can get a mordantly amusing sense of how reliable law school employment data has been by looking at the wildly divergent unemployment rates reported by otherwise very similar schools, and by examining what happens to those rates when US News changes its ranking methodology.

As regards the first issue, here are the percentages of the previous graduating class reported as unemployed-seeking work as of February 15, 2010 at four law schools:

Ave Maria:  33.7%
Florida International:  0%

Touro:  32.7%
Pace:   3.6%

What could possibly explain that more than one third of the class at an unranked fairly new Florida law school with an essentially open admissions policy was completely unemployed and seeking work nine months after graduation, while another unranked fairly new Florida law school with an essentially open admissions policy purportedly did not have a single member of its graduating class in this same situation?  Why was the involuntary unemployment rate purportedly 90% lower at one horrible NYC area law school than at another such school?

Many similar pairings can be found by anyone with an inclination to browse through LST spreadsheets.

Here's an even more striking illustration of how phony much of the reported "employment" data from law schools has been:  For many years, US News excluded graduates who were reported by their schools to be unemployed but not seeking work from the denominator when calculating graduate employment rates.

After ceasing this practice for a year because of a change in ABA reporting practices, the magazine stated in 2008 that it was going back to doing so, but included a stern warning to schools not to exploit this category in order to "spin" (trans: fraudulently mis-state) their employment rates).  Subsequently, the majority of schools seemed to more or less heed this warning, as the median percentage of graduates reported to be unemployed not-seeking hovered around 2%, and the mode was zero percent.  (For example in regard to the statistics above, in February of 2010 Touro reported having no graduates in the unemployed not-seeking work category, and Ave Maria reported just 2.3% of its graduates in this situation, even though a third of the classes at both schools didn't have jobs).

But some schools, it appears, ignored the warning, and jammed large numbers of their unemployed graduates into the "not seeking" category.  Indeed, in February 2010 35 ABA schools reported having more than twice as many unemployed not-seeking graduates as unemployed-seeking graduates.  (The Oscar in this category can be awarded to Santa Clara, which in 2010 and 2011 reported that 102[!] of its graduates were unemployed but not seeking jobs nine months after graduation, as compared to 29 unemployed graduates who were looking to acquire employment of some sort).

Then an awful thing happened: in March of 2011, just after schools submitted their numbers to NALP and US News, US News announced that henceforth it would treat unemployed not-seeking graduates as simply unemployed for the purposes of calculating nine-month employment rates.  Miraculously enough, in February of 2012 the number of schools that reported having more than twice as many unemployed not-seeking graduates as unemployed-seeking fell from 35 to 4.


83 comments:

  1. I have never understood the usefulness of the not seeking employment category. Who is that supposed to include ? What was its purpose ?

    Trust fund slackers? Stay at home moms ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The rationale is or was that the federal government doesn't include people not seeking work as unemployed, so why should law schools do so? This is of course an absurd equivalence, as people who go to law school are almost invariably doing so in order to work after graduating. It's true that there are rare instances of a graduate not actually seeking work after graduation, but you can tell which schools report this figure accurately because it will be either zero or close. Any school that reports more than 2% or 3% of its class as being in this situation should be treated with extreme skepticism, and any school that reports more than 5% or so can safely be assumed to be lying.

      Delete
    2. Don't give the Feds a pass, LawProf. It is inexcusable for them not to count the people who have given up as unemployed.

      The BLS should start reporting the EMPLOYMENT rate; that is, what percentage of American adults have a full-time paying job? With the Obamafication of America proceeding at a full-on gallop, I wouldn't be surprised if that figure dropped into the single digits sometime soon.

      Delete
    3. The problem is, the feds need a way to separate out people who are intentionally unemployed & not seeking (plus people who have disabilities that make them unable to work), as opposed to people who can and want to be employed but have given up trying to find work.

      Delete
    4. Some have suggested that the US News rankings (or any ranking system) do not rank schools based on job placements. This would pretty much eliminate the motivation to game the system.

      Delete
    5. Not true. What law professors and deans need to understand is that employment statistics are the primary concern of students. So there is still plenty of pressure to game employment stats- see all the schools employing their own grads just until the cutoff . ( and not everyone can even get one if those jobs)

      Delete
    6. @1056,

      Haha, okay, but the Obamafication I mentioned has legions of people who DON'T want to work. A significant percentage of the people on "disability" have lied in order to take a vacation for life. Hell, sometimes I even think about quitting my job and gaming the system.

      If the BLS is supposed to gauge the ***HEALTH*** of the economy, HOW are those people not relevant, again?

      Delete
    7. @1237,

      I'd be LESS mad if you got a job.

      Delete
    8. Yeah, totally out of the ordinary for me to post on the internet on a Saturday afternoon.

      Delete
    9. 12:06, you want to game the system for a $1,130/mo. disability payout? That's seriously pathetic.

      Delete
    10. 12:06: After that comes Medicaid, Section 8 housing, food stamps, a weekly visit to he local food pantry . . .

      Delete
    11. Law school rankings should come down to a ratio between graduates holding full-time, bar-required employment and total graduates in any given year. No prospective student really cares about anything else.

      If the schools still want to lie about that number, that's their business, but at least it strips away bullshit like the size of one's library or the opinions of other faculties about yours.

      Delete
    12. @214,

      Reading comprehension isn't your "thing," is it?

      It's "totally out of the ordinary" for you to work at all. I'm right about that, aren't I?

      Delete
    13. I remember this one guy from law school who was a union worker in the railroad industry. He gathered degrees for fun or something. Law school was like his third or fourth grad degree. He had no intention of giving up the union gig. I guess he would be the exception who would fall in this category. Grad school hobbiests are rare.

      Delete
    14. "Law school rankings should come down to a ratio between graduates holding full-time, bar-required employment and total graduates in any given year."

      Just one suggestion: PAID employment. If you are an intern in a government office, you're probably there full-time without being paid.

      Delete
  2. Is there any easy way to determine a list of schools who were lying about this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not sure where people get the data from prior years.

      Delete
  3. A similar thing happened with the "unkown" category a few years back. U.S. News used to count half of graduates whose employment status was unknown as employed, so schools, like George Washington in particular, stuffed folks (presumably the ones who were unemployed) in this category.

    There were accusations floating around the blogosphere that many schools' career service employees would actually throw away a certain number of surveys they'd gathered reporting unemployed status so that they could exploit the "unknown" rule.

    U.S. News caught on, began to count all unknowns as unemployed, and sure enough, the percentages in that category dropped dramatically.

    ReplyDelete
  4. WOAH. I'm shocked, shocked!!!!! Has anyone alerted Steve Diamond?????

    The Oscar in this category can be awarded to Santa Clara, which in 2010 and 2011 reported that 102[!] of its graduates were unemployed but not seeking jobs nine months after graduation, as compared to 29 unemployed graduates who were looking to acquire employment of some sort).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Steve Diamond will now accuse you of anti-intellectualism.

      Or something like that.

      Delete
    2. Predicting that Steve Diamond will accuse someone of anti-intellectualism in a sneering manner impinges on Prof. Diamond's academic freedom.

      Is there no end to the line of people trying to oppress Prof. Diamond?

      Delete
    3. If you think that Santa Clara is playing games with their employment statistics, you hate black people and want to return to the evil days of Professor Kingsfield.

      Delete
  5. Easy fix. Put ABA, NALP and USNews all on the same system.

    Column one: Graduates in class of 20XX.

    Column two: Number of graduates in class of 20XX with full-time jobs with legal employers.

    Make it the expectation that the school will list the employer, grouped by type and size of firm, of each graduate that it knows about. (Separate columns are fine for things like clerkships, students who went back to school to seek another degree, etc.)

    Everything else falls outside that list. Then put column two numbers (+ legit judicial clerkships) over column one numbers to provide the percentage.

    Step back and watch as class sizes shrink. This new number should have as big or bigger weight assigned for USNews as median LSAT.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The ABA, NALP, and USNews. Hmm, can we add the Bureau of Labor Statistics? That is,

      (Number of American adults with paying full-time jobs) divided by (number of American adults)?

      That simple equation should be the gold standard for measuring the economic "recovery."

      Delete
  6. Lawprof-

    Did you know the ABA is apparently looking for proposals to help monitor/audit past graduate employment to help ensure reliability?

    http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?id=1202589105681&ABA_seeks_help_monitoring_law_graduate_employment_statistics&slreturn=20130123142431

    See?! They're doing something to solve the problem! Progress! Action!

    Submit one today...oh, were you not solicited? Cause that deadline passed on the 19th.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hmm is anyone else having problems with the pictures on this
    blog loading? I'm trying to find out if its a problem on my end or if it's the blog.
    Any responses would be greatly appreciated.

    Feel free to visit my web page - hostgator Evaluations

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Spam: there are no photos here .

      Delete
  8. If you believe LSTs numbers, Touro has an employment score higher than Fordham's and Cardozo's.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Even after being called out for the lies, the law schools continue to either puff or lie. At least the public has access now to information regarding the law schools' credibility.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The schools continue to get away with it because of the deliberately vague words they use. Which is why those lawsuits don't get anywhere.

      They are obviously not going to act on this on their own and professional/bar associations don't seem to be in a hurry to deal with it either. All that can be done is, spread the word, either online like this or personally if you're aware of someone contemplating law school.

      If people know the true job picture and decide to go to law school anyway, that is their business. But they should know the realities first, and they don't.

      Delete
  10. Let's not forget all those working in volunteer positions that are almost certainly counted as employed but conveniently left out of the salary data.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Er, yeah. You know what "volunteer" means, right? That the person performing the work is doing so voluntarily.

      Meaning they are not looking for work, nor getting paid, so it's a wash when it comes to salary stats (give or take).

      Delete
    2. Um, not exactly. You know about all the government positions in places like the US Atorney's offices around the country where people work for free after graduation. They do this to try to get experience and land a paying job. Not because they could have another paying job and just turned it down to work for free .

      It is so exploitative of our government to do this.

      And, if you do work for free, you don't get any better shot at getting a job or may even be barred from getting a job with them. They don't want it to be unduly advantageous to the wealthy people who can work for free over those who have to have a job to live.

      Delete
    3. "Meaning they are not looking for work"

      They're most definitely looking for work. That is if they're hoping to move out of their parent's house, pay off their loans, buy their own food, and function as a normal adult should.

      "nor getting paid"

      Exactly, they're salary is $0, and this should be reflected in the salary data.

      Delete
    4. Can there be any more potent example of supply-and-demand than a licensed professional willing to work for nothing just to get some experience to sell?

      When Chandra Levy disappeared a woman called nto a local talk radio program hereabouts and said that she had worked for the feds in DC at one point. Based on that, she said that almost all these young people coming to DC for internships were there to angle for a permanent, paid position, and that "you'd better believe that some of these young women are willng to use their sexuality to get one."

      And the funny thing is, Chandra Levy was a PAID intern and was still willing to make "that extra effort" to get a job. How far will some unemployed JDs go above and beyond working for free?

      Delete
  11. Replies
    1. Bring back Infinity!
      Bring back Infinity!
      Bring back Infinity!
      Bring back Infinity!
      Bring back Infinity!
      Bring back Infinity!
      Bring back Infinity!
      Bring back Infinity!
      Bring back Infinity!
      Bring back Infinity!
      Bring back Infinity!
      Bring back Infinity!
      Yay!

      Delete
  12. Todаy, I went to thе beаch front with
    my сhilԁren. Ι found a sea shell аnd gаve
    it to my 4 year old daughter and saiԁ "You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear." She ρlacеd the shеll to
    her еar and screamed. There was a heгmit cгab іnside anԁ it pinсhed her еar.
    She never wants to go back! LoL ӏ knоw thiѕ іs еntirеly off
    topic but I had to tell someone!

    Ηегe іs mу blog post .
    .. personal long term loans
    my web page: instant long term loans

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Uh oh. The spambots are ripping off (not very funny) Simpsons bits.

      Delete
  13. Could you see your way clear to giving me an instant long-term loan so that I can fulfill my dream of attending Florida Space Coast Law School? It's near the beach. $200,000 should be enough.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. sure, 19%.

      No 20-year forgiveness, btw.

      You play, you pay.

      Delete
  14. Well, Santa Clara is an unusually ethical law school, so maybe there is some unique and praiseworthy reason that so many of its recent graduates ended up in the category of "unemployed, not seeking." You know, maybe after a Santa Clara legal education, many are simply too ethical to endure the moral compromises of the workplace, and are living as Trappist monks somewhere or are starving themselves to protest injustice, like Gandhi.

    Why, Santa Clara Law is SO ethical that they went so far as to open up an "Institute of Sports Law and Ethics," in conjunction with their University's Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, and their Department of Athletics.

    http://law.scu.edu/sportslaw/

    Consider the following quotes, from the linked article in the Santa Clara Law Magazine, and contemplate the lofty ethical standards that Santa Clara sets for itself and others.

    * "Sports has lost its moral compass. Amateurism does not exist anymore. Who better to re-create that moral compass than Santa Clara,” [chairman of the Instiute Ron] Katz said."

    * "Ethics is part of our mission here,” added Dan Coonan, SCU’s director of athletics. “There are many sports law institutes across the country but there’s only one that has an ethics component, and that’s Santa Clara."

    * "The School of Law’s involvement is apt not only because of its commitment to SCU’s ethics mission, said Dean Donald Polden, but because the pervasiveness of sports law makes it likely that law graduates at some point in their careers will be asked to represent, advise, or inveigh for or against clients or interests confronting sports-related ethical challenges. “A lot of these issues cut across all areas of sports,” he said.

    http://law.scu.edu/sclaw/2012-ethics-of-sports.cfm

    dybbuk

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If he had even a thimbleful of ethics, he would shut that toilet down immediately.

      Delete
    2. "but because the pervasiveness of sports law makes it likely that law graduates at some point in their careers will be asked to represent, advise, or inveigh for or against clients or interests confronting sports-related ethical challenges."

      "Likely" LOL. All the attorneys I know are constantly handling sports law cases. Because, you know, there are so many of them...

      Delete
    3. Do a westlaw or lexis search of sports law in your state database and see how many hits you get. Can't make a living practicing sports law.

      Delete
    4. Threatening to shut down Santa Clara is an insult to Steve Diamond and minorities. But mostly Steve Diamond,

      Delete
    5. "Sports law" (together with its variants "entertainment law", "international law", and the like) is a lie being sold to special snowflakes. YOU can rub elbows with celebrities. Everyone else's interests turn towards the ins and outs of insurance contracts; you and you alone want to undertake the thankless task of catering to the rich and famous.

      Delete
    6. Whenever I see talk of "sports law" I wonder to myself how many people in the United States are getting paid to play sports. Add to that number team owners and some officials and that is going to be the total potential client base for sports lawyers. According to BLS in 2010 there were 16,500 pros and the median income was under $50,000.00. The number of players strikes me as a bit low given all of the minor league baseball and hockey clubs out there, but not too, too low. And the total of players in the big four men's leagues is probably about 3,500. Pretty slim pickings.

      Delete
    7. Yeah, and so much sports law in Vermont and NH, too. Tenure from Day One, too.
      http://sports-law.blogspot.com/2013/01/annoucing-unh-law-sports-and.html

      The center will also offer courses in Publishing Law, Video Game Law and Sports and Intellectual Property Law, because there are so many publishing and video game firms in New Hampshire.

      http://www.tnhonline.com/law-school-adds-new-sports-and-entertainment-institute-1.2980955#.USs6Yzcf-vM

      But if that doesn't work out, there's always space law, taught at that world aviation center -- Oxford, Mississippi.

      http://www.wdam.com/story/21098191/ole-miss-launching-air-space-law-degree

      Delete
    8. According to the Dean at UNH there is a serious shortage of lawyers serving the middle class on Mars.

      Delete
    9. This is 11:33. I meant the Dean at Ole Miss!

      Delete
    10. Nope, you don't need to be an expert in sports law to handle personal injuries. In fact, you don't need to be an expert at all:

      “[Sports law] could even involve — now with all this concern about concussions — the medical area and personal injury claims,” Denney said ... an attorney doesn’t necessarily need to be an expert in [sports law] to land a job in the practice area. The attorney could have experience in areas such as advertising, contracts, intellectual properties or business acquisitions, to name a few.

      http://www.nationaljurist.com/content/sports-law-makes-hot-list

      Delete
    11. 11:52

      The Denney quote in the National Jurist is hilarious. He deems sports law to be a "red hot" field, but then defines sports law so broadly that it encompasses any sort of case involving an "athletic client."

      "Of course there are many programs dedicated to sports administration, but an attorney doesn’t necessarily need to be an expert in that field to land a job in the practice area. The attorney could have experience in areas such as advertising, contracts, intellectual properties or business acquisitions, to name a few. The expertise comes from the specific area of law and then applying it to the athletic client,” Denney said.""

      http://www.nationaljurist.com/content/sports-law-makes-hot-list

      So, you know, a criminal defense attorney is practicing sports law, whether he or she knows it or not, in representing some college football player on a DUI or a domestic battery. I wonder if attorneys in that position regret not having studied Sports Law at the Santa Clara Institute of Sports Law and Ethics.

      dybbuk

      Delete
    12. I know ... concussions!

      kinda liked this, too: "I wish I had a Sports Law medallion from Marquette Law School"

      http://jdunderground.com/all/thread.php?threadId=41591

      Delete
  15. Someone should post some hard questions to St. Mary's in San Antonio. They have the 14th highest Bar Pass FT/LT employment percentage in the country (78.3%). That's one below Boalt.

    How do they do this? They placed 101 students in FT/LT in law firms of 2-10 lawyers. That's 40.6% of their total graduates, six percentage points higher than any other law school.

    Does this prove they're playing games? Not by any means. In fact, as the only law school in San Antonio, there's a chance that they're in Berkeley's league for employment. But an outlier statistic like this should definitely raise a red flag and require an explanation.

    ReplyDelete
  16. brilliant column, paul

    ReplyDelete
  17. The whole thing is reminiscent of the Enron accounting fraud scandal from the early 2000's.

    Many of the practices seem to be completely identical, actually. Just replace "Enron" with "a law school" and "investors" with "students."

    Funny how the investors got to have their day in court and the students didn't or won't.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Will SOX 2013 be passed? Will Leiter go to jail? Will these employment reports be retroactively restated?

      Delete
  18. What a data of un-ambiguity and preserveness of precious familiarity
    on the topic of unexpected emotions.

    My web-site - how to lose weight quickly and keep it off

    ReplyDelete
  19. this really is one of your best blogposts. How could any reasonable person not see the pervasive fraud being practiced by these institutions? This speaks to the rotten core of the american establishment.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed. It would be good to see a series on this theme. This is so obvious manipulation solely to better their stats.

      You would think the schools would turn each other in.

      Delete
    2. But America's WorldBest Judiciary Ever(c) found not even enough hints of fraud to get past a motion to dismiss!

      Delete
  20. Does your site have a contact page? I'm having a tough time locating it but, I'd like to shoot you an email.
    I've got some creative ideas for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great website and I look forward to seeing it improve over time.

    Also visit my web-site :: http://Offshore-Company.co/UK-Pensions/QROPS/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Leiter, seriously now, this is getting awkward.

      Delete
  21. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/24/business/high-debt-and-falling-demand-trap-new-veterinarians.html?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130224

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Those debt loads are crazy. Seems vet school is a bigger scam than law school.

      Delete
    2. I think education period needs to be rethought.

      Delete
    3. Quite aside from her debt, a one-month job search through walk-ins that led to a starting salary of 60K ... with just 30 other applications ... does not seem that terrible to me.

      Many people look for far longer, can't do walk-ins (online screening etc.), are competing against hundreds or even thousands of other applicants, and earn a lot less.

      Delete
  22. FIU is an up-and-coming law school far above Florida Coastal in local reputation; their unemployment rate should be significantly below Florida Coastal (no, I did not attend either one), but obviously not that far below. They appear now to be throwing that away by blatantly lying about their employment rate. It's quite sad.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is any law school up-and-coming?

      Delete
    2. Good point; nobody's up-and-coming anymore. When I was practicing in South Florida several years ago, FIU was sending (some) people to biglaw and was respected in the area in the sense that reputable firms would hire their grads. I'm sure that's completely changed now.

      Delete
  23. The BLS DOES report the EMPLOYMENT rate, and does so every month along with unemployment rate. In fact, it reports on 6 different measures of labor utilization rates. The press tends to focus on U3, the "headline" unemployment rate, but economists know that that is not the complete picture of labor market health.

    ReplyDelete
  24. There are three kinds of lies!

    Lies
    Damn lies and
    Statistics!

    ReplyDelete
  25. In the interest of accuracy FIU really is a better law school then Ave Maria. FIU does not have an essentially open admissions policy-- it consistently rejects over 20 percent of applicants. Look it up.

    I grew up in Miami and work in the profession, albeit in DC. University of Miami reigns in the region, with FIU coming in second. My friend who works at a small law firm in Miami said that his firm considers new hires from UM and FIU but doesn't even look at the other South Florida schools. It is true that if we expand the region, UF and FSU are considered better than FIU. But locally FIU really is in a much better position than Ave Maria, Nova, Barry, etc.

    I am no defender of the law school status quo. I fully support the scamblog movement. But let's not get sidetracked with false information, as there is plenty of correct data with which to make the points we want to make.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Funny you referrence Pace. This is a school with a faculty member that developed a ranking of law schools by "Law Professors on Twitter." Guess where: Thefacultylounge.org.

    I am not joking.

    Again, just so we all understand: A law professor at a hideous, 4th tier overcharging private law school, devised a ranking of law schools by the number of professors that tweet, and defended her actions in the comments. You can't make this stuff up.

    And see comments asking what the f**k she was doing navel gazing like this while her graduates, whose tuition dollars presumably funded this nonsense by paying her salary, and you'll get a true sense of the disconected, entitled, and concretely pernicous attitudes (and ignorance) of today's mediocre law school professor.

    http://law.pace.edu/faculty/bridget-j-crawford

    http://www.thefacultylounge.org/2012/07/census-of-law-professor-twitter-users-beta-version.html

    ReplyDelete
  27. Very nice post, thanks for sharing the information. Keep up the good work.

    reliability jobs

    ReplyDelete
  28. I am NOT Steve Diamond, nor wouldFebruary 24, 2013 at 7:46 PM

    NOR would I WANT to be: "The Oscar in this category can be awarded to Santa Clara, which in 2010 and 2011 reported that 102[!] of its graduates were unemployed but not seeking jobs nine months after graduation, as compared to 29 unemployed graduates who were looking to acquire employment "

    C'mon, Stevie man, what's your "logical" answer to this kind of pure bilge water?

    Please! We're anxiously awaiting your explanation in defence of your law school.

    Please, Stevie? Help us understand... Pleeeeze.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, you see, um, DJM and LP are hypocrites.

      Defense rests.

      Delete
  29. Awesome review. I got to your blog from yahoo while i was looking for job search. I will turn over your site to other people and I am sure they will think the same about your article on this site.

    ReplyDelete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.