Among top tier law schools -- where debt can be steep -- employment data can be hard to parse as well. Columbia University's law school, which kept its No. 4 national ranking this year, says that it did not exaggerate its employment numbers because two dozen law firms did not report their hiring, and employed graduates who had not been admitted to the bar were not included in the overall total.Really, at some point what is there left to say? Note that Dean Schizer wasn't making an off the cuff remark to cowed law students at "town hall" meeting, or posting anonymous snark on the internet, or mumbling something to a Jobs Creator at the bar after his fourth G&T at yet another unbearably tedious fundraising event. Instead, he said this, while on the record, to a journalist for one of the nation's leading financial publications.
"It's true that the elite bar is hiring fewer people," says David Schizer, dean of Columbia's law school. "But is Columbia affected? No."
Percentage of Columbia law graduates getting jobs with NLJ250 firms by year:
This chart shows a comparable collapse in big law hiring at most elite law schools for the class of 2009, which continued and deepened for the classes of 2010 and 2011. On some level it's basically nuts to assert that the elite bar is hiring fewer people but Columbia isn't affected. It's almost an oxymoron, practically equivalent to saying "the people who hire our graduates aren't hiring as many of our graduates but our graduates are not affected."
Again, I really don't know what to say. Possible explanations:
(1) Schizer was misquoted. If so, he ought to speak up now or forever hold his peace.
(2) Schizer said this and believes it's true. If so, he's deeply delusional, at a level I wouldn't have thought possible even for elite law school deans, who often show signs of being less than securely tethered to reality on a whole range of subjects.
(3) Schizer said this, knows it isn't true, and is lying because he believes it's in his own and his institution's interest for him to lie.
(4) Schizer said this, doesn't know whether it's true or not, and doesn't care, because bullshitting is what deans do in the same way other people brush their teeth at bedtime.
My guess -- and that's really all it is -- is that (4) is the most plausible explanation. Legal academics in general and legal academic administrators in particular are people who get used to just saying stuff without bothering too much about whether they actually know what they're talking about, because bullshitting is a hard habit to break.
Protip for future reference: Journalists for the national media aren't law students. You're not a fearsome authority figure to them. In fact, what you are is a schmuck. They won't tell you so in so many words, but if you lie to them or act like you know what you're talking about when you don't, they'll write stories that make it clear to their readers that that's what you are.