"96% of the Class of 2010 graduates (169 out of 176) were employed as of February 2010 [this is surely a typo, which is supposed to read February 2011]. Employed does not include two (2) graduates enrolled in graduate programs. Three (3) students remained seeking employment and two (2) students were not seeking employment."
Note this page was last updated two weeks ago, so this is the school's considered response to the criticisms from the law school transparency movement that law school placement and salary data is misleading.
UW's response, in short, is to continue to trumpet a completely phony overall "employment" rate, while providing as close to no information as possible about everything else. Pretty much the only meaningful piece of information on this page, from a practical perspective, is that only 43% of "employed" 2010 UW grads had jobs of some sort in private law practice nine months after graduation.
How many of the other 57% of "employed" grads had jobs that required a law degree? How many of those jobs were temporary, or part-time, or both? For that matter, how many of the law firm "jobs" were in one or both of those categories? What did the 15% of jobs described as "clerkships" involve? (Remarkably, USNWR reports that 18.0% of the UW Class of 2009 had federal Article III judicial clerkships. This number attributes to the school the fourth-highest percentage of federal judicial clerkships for any law school, behind Yale, Stanford, and Harvard -- Harvard's listed percentage is 18.1%. Numerous attempts by the Law School Transparency project to get the school's career services office to confirm or correct that number have failed, and it's still featured in the latest available USNWR data.). How many UW grads were "employed" by the school itself, or in school-funded positions? How many of the 43% of its "employed" graduates who had positions with law firms were in solo practices, or in firms with two to ten employees -- a category which includes things such as doing temporary contract work for solos, two graduates forming their own firm etc?
Not least of all, what percentage of graduates had known salaries, and what were they? Perhaps I'm missing something on the UW site, but I can't find any of the above information on it. All it tells me is that 96% of UW's graduates are "employed" nine months after graduation.
If I look elsewhere, I can find this. (Given that this "informational" page includes the stats for UW's Class of 2014 it can't be more than a few months old).
In recent years, Washington has continued to demonstrate tremendous ability to place its students into some of the top law firms and judicial clerkship positions of Washington state and the Northwest. Of the class of 2010, 96% of graduates were employed within 9 months of graduation, roughly 69% of whom secured employment within the state of Washington. 43% of graduates accepted jobs with private law firms, with a median starting salary of $95,000, while 15% took on judicial clerkships. Outside of the Northwest, job prospects are predictably less stellar for Washington students, although the school’s alumni network allows students the opportunity to pursue employment in all corners of the nation.Are we to assume from this that UW had salary information for 100% of the 43% of its employed graduates who were working for law firms? That seems highly improbable, given that, according to what it reported to USNWR, for its 2009 class UW did not have any salary information for nearly a quarter of its graduates employed by law firms, and on a national level the percentage of graduates not reporting salaries rose in the class of 2010.
It's instructive to compare all this to the new employment and salary data which was just made public by Ohio State. While not perfect, the OSU data allows a prospective student to answer almost all the questions listed above within a tolerable degree of accuracy. This is a particularly salient comparison, given that UW and OSU have very similar USNWR rankings (30th and 35th) and tuition rates, and that they are both located in major metropolitan areas of states with very similar overall unemployment figures (8.7% and 8.5% in November, respectively).
There's a special irony in UW's numbers, which is that the UW law library has a deserved reputation as a leader in compiling information about legal academic publishing. If you want to find out what law professors published in law reviews last week, UW is a great place to go for detailed information. On the other hand, if you want to find out what percentage of the school's graduates are actually employed as lawyers of some sort nine months after graduation . . .