Bench Memos

Elite Law Schools Gaming Postgraduate Employment Rates?

The National Law Journal reports that a number of high-tier law schools have been hiring a “relatively high” percentage of their own graduates for the evident purpose (I’m the one drawing this inference; NLJ doesn’t do so explicitly) of boosting their postgraduate employment rates. For example, the University of Virginia’s law school (#7 in the US News rankings) reported having hired 11% of its 2010 graduates, and the NLJ  lists nine other law schools in the top 30 that reported having hired from 11 to 15% of their 2010 graduates.

Note that the law schools’ employment rates include both short-term and long-term jobs. At Arizona State’s law school, the 12% of graduates in school-funded jobs “were in public-interest fellowships for at least six weeks” (emphasis added). Pardon me for wondering whether these fellowships and other law school hirings were timed to take advantage of the relevant reporting date (which I gather is nine months after graduation).

As NLJ notes, the data, reported to the American Bar Association, doesn’t distinguish between part-time and full-time jobs (but does break down short-term and long-term jobs), nor does it include any salary information. (The data should be available at this ABA site, but the link currently isn’t working, and I’m told that it may not be up again until tomorrow.)

Meanwhile—and in sharp contrast to the law schools trying to game the system—Above the Law notes that the University of Michigan’s law school deserves special credit for releasing all of its employment statistics for the 2009-2011 classes, including detailing the fact that one of its recent graduates is working as a sheep farmer. (Other nonlegal employment for recent U of M grads includes “actor,” “dentist’s office,” “bar owner,” “polo coach,” and “professional poker.”)


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