Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Do They Deserve Gold Stars or Red Flags? Which Law Schools are Promulgating Questionable Claims of Placement Success?




In 2011, the ABA revised its consumer information provision (Standard 509) to require accredited law schools to conduct nine-months-out employment surveys of graduates and provide segmented data. These surveys revealed, beyond any residual doubt, that law schools had been massively inflating their job placement success rates on their websites and in their promotional literature. Revealed that our oh-so-progressive legal educators-- our profession's very own "Republic of Conscience"-- are little more than a gang of puffed-up quick buck artists, with approximately the same regard for their students as tobacco manufacturers have for their customers or military contractors have for the troops. 
The survey requirement was unquestionably a watershed reform. But these surveys are not 100% precise. Not every newly minted JD fills out the placement survey, and law schools are permitted to guess the employment status of non-responsive grads from publicly available information, such as Linked-In or Facebook profiles, from resumes uploaded to Symplicity or other resume collection sites, or from a google search.

http://www.nalp.org/lseotf_bestpract [1]


If you think about it, this guesswork leaves ample room for law school career service functionaries to present a false picture of employment outcomes, even if they cannot scam as brazenly as in their pre-survey glory days. That firm listed on a recent grad’s Facebook profile-- is it a legitimate JD-required small firm job or is it an empty shell of a solo practice conjured up in an effort to save face by some kid whose true status is "JD/Mom’s Basement"? That vaguely white-collarish job snagged by a recent grad--is it a true JD-Advantage job or did the kid obtain a nonlaw job in spite of, not because, of his or her law degree?  

In June, 2014, a mere three years after revised Standard 509 went into effect, the ABA adopted a protocol for reviewing law graduate employment data. One may applaud the ABA’s adoption of reform or oversight measures, however piecemeal and snail-paced, and I do. Though there is the little matter of the thousands of young lives being destroyed in the meantime by the law school scam. 




According to the new ABA protocol, 10 schools are selected at random for review of their reported employment data. Additionally, the ABA will do a "red flag review" of schools with "significant inconsistencies or anomalies in their data reporting" or which are the subject of "credible reports of incomplete, inaccurate, or misleading reporting."  Whether the review is "random" or "red flag," the ABA has the same three levels of auditing, always beginning at Level One and advancing, at the ABA's discretion, to Levels Two or Three. Level One is not serious, as it grants the law school a presumption that its data is complete and accurate. Level Two (independent verification of some placement data) and Level Three (independent review and confirmation of all placement data) look okay, but I wonder how often they will be conducted. (for more detail on what each auditing level involves, click the link above, and go to p. 4-5).


Which schools deserve close scrutiny? I would say schools that have reported dramatic increases in the percentage of grads obtaining bar-required jobs and those that report an unusually high percentage of grads obtaining JD-Advantage jobs. I am listing these schools below. I have used the excellent employment rate calculator at the "Educating Tomorrow's Lawyers" site. 

http://educatingtomorrowslawyers.du.edu/law-jobs/calculator

I make no accusations. It may that these schools have found innovative ways to achieve placement success or have benefited from advantageous local conditions. It may be that these schools deserve praise even from scamblogging types. But law schools in general have a filthy history of deceiving prospective students and others with deliberately misleading claims. So before handing out gold stars, I would suggest waving a few red flags. 

Percentage of Grads Who Obtained JD-Advantage Jobs (Full-time, Long-Term, Nonfunded), Class of 2013.


1
QUINNIPIAC UNIVERSITY
27.7%
2
HAMLINE UNIVERSITY
24.3%
3
NORTHERN KENTUCKY UNIVERSITY
23.1%
4
GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY
22.4%
5
CATHOLIC UNIVERSITY OF AMERICA
21.8%
6
SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY
21.4%
7
BALTIMORE, UNIVERSITY OF
20.3%
8
ARIZONA STATE UNIVERSITY
19.6%
9
CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY
19.5%
10
WEST VIRGINIA UNIVERSITY
19.2%
11
ATLANTA'S JOHN MARSHALL LAW SHOOL
18.8%
12
INDIANA UNIVERSITY - INDIANAPOLIS
18.7%
13
MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
17.9%
14
TULSA, UNIVERSITY OF
17.9%
15
OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY
17.8%
16
ST. THOMAS, UNIVERSITY OF (MINNESOTA)
17.7%
17
MAINE, UNIVERSITY OF
17.7%
18
CONNECTICUT, UNIVERSITY OF
17.6%
19
CHARLOTTE SCHOOL OF LAW
17.1%
20
MARQUETTE UNIVERSITY
17.0%
21
SOUTH DAKOTA, UNIVERSITY OF
16.9%
22
FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY
16.3%
23
MISSOURI, UNIVERSITY OF
16.0%
24
HOWARD UNIVERSITY
15.9%
25
DUQUESNE UNIVERSITY
15.1%
26
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
15.0%
27
LOUISVILLE, UNIVERSITY OF
14.8%
28
CINCINNATI, UNIVERSITY OF
14.8%
29
ELON UNIVERSITY
14.8%
30
LOYOLA UNIVERSITY-CHICAGO
14.7%


Percentage of Grads Who Obtained JD-Required Jobs (Full-Time, Long-Term, Nonfunded), Class of 2011 v. Class of 2013.

School
2011 Rate
2013 Rate
Change from 2011 Rate to 2013 Rate
SOUTH DAKOTA, UNIVERSITY OF
38.2%
62.0%
23.8
NEW HAMPSHIRE UNIVERSITY OF
47.6%
69.2%
21.5
APPALACHIAN SCHOOL OF LAW
30.8%
50.0%
19.2
ILLINOIS, UNIVERSITY OF
46.3%
64.1%
17.8
WASHINGTON, UNIVERSITY OF
51.6%
67.8%
16.1
WILLIAM MITCHELL COLLEGE OF LAW
43.6%
59.1%
15.5
TOLEDO, UNIVERSITY OF
34.8%
50.0%
15.2
BRIGHAM YOUNG UNIVERSITY
50.0%
64.6%
14.6
WILLAMETTE UNIVERSITY
47.3%
61.8%
14.5
CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY
45.8%
59.9%
14.1
SOUTH CAROLINA, UNIVERSITY OF
55.0%
68.2%
13.2
COLORADO, UNIVERSITY OF
54.0%
67.0%
13.1
WASHBURN UNIVERSITY
50.0%
62.9%
12.9
GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY
59.6%
72.4%
12.8
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY-CARBONDALE
59.5%
72.1%
12.6
KANSAS, UNIVERSITY OF
51.8%
64.2%
12.4
DAYTON, UNIVERSITY OF
51.5%
63.7%
12.2
PEPPERDINE UNIVERSITY
41.0%
53.1%
12.0
CITY UNIVERSITY OF NEW YORK
36.9%
48.6%
11.6
IDAHO, UNIVERSITY OF
51.0%
62.4%
11.4
NORTH DAKOTA, UNIVERSITY OF
48.1%
59.5%
11.3
IOWA, UNIVERSITY OF
65.6%
76.3%
10.7
UNIVERSITY OF BUFFALO-SUNY
51.8%
62.2%
10.4
CHICAGO, UNIVERSITY OF
76.4%
86.5%
10.2
BOSTON UNIVERSITY
50.9%
61.2%
10.2
WIDENER UNIVERSITY-HARRISBURG
44.4%
54.5%
10.2
BROOKLYN LAW SCHOOL
47.3%
57.3%
10.1
OHIO NORTHERN UNIVERSITY
56.7%
66.7%
10.0
ALBANY LAW SCHOOL OF UNION UNIVERSITY
50.0%
59.7%
9.7
NOTRE DAME, UNIVERSITY OF
61.1%
70.7%
9.6
WHITTIER LAW SCHOOL
17.1%
26.7%
9.6
NEW YORK LAW SCHOOL
35.0%
44.5%
9.5
OREGON, UNIVERSITY OF
41.4%
50.3%
9.0
MINNESOTA, UNIVERSITY OF
59.4%
68.2%
8.9
CALIFORNIA-DAVIS, UNIVERSITY OF
56.4%
65.3%
8.9

----------------------------------------------
Note:

[1]  This link describes NALP data collection "best practices." However, it is clear that the ABA has adopted NALP's guidelines. The following link, to a memo issued by ABA honchos Barry Currier and Scott Norberg in 2012, indicates that the ABA views the "existing NALP Best Practices Guide for Managing Law School Employment Outcomes" as setting forth the "requirements that schools must follow in collecting, maintaining and reporting this [employment] data."

http://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/administrative/legal_education_and_admissions_to_the_bar/council_reports_and_resolutions/december_2012_council_meeting/2012_draft_proposal_auditing_of_employment_data.authcheckdam.pdf
 










26 comments:

  1. Why not make 2014 the year of audits across the board? Remember, we still have no baseline.

    Old Guy

    ReplyDelete
  2. Admittedly this is a little arbitrary, but from what I have seen I would believe 15-17% on "JD Advantage" jobs. I call BS, however, on 19, 20, 25%. Quinnipac, I'm looking at you in particular.

    And let's not even go there on the amazing changes from 2011 to 2013 re: law firm employment. Absolutely laughable. Because we ALL know how well the economy in general, and the legal sector in particular, has been doing lately.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Admittedly this is a little arbitrary, but from what I have seen I would believe 15-17% on "JD Advantage" jobs. I call BS, however, on 19, 20, 25%. Quinnipac, I'm looking at you in particular."

      I would not believe even that, until the schools back their classification up with evidence that a JD actually helped. And I'd like to see hard numbers on how much it helped - even if having a JD boosted somebody's chances of getting such a job from 10% to 11%, that's not worth spending money on it.

      Delete
    2. Entirely correct. From my own view, I combine NALP's "JD Advantage" and "Other Professional" into what I call the "JD Advantage Meta Group", which is around 15% on average.

      If you look at "JD Advantage" "only", as you suggest, then the actual percentage is about half to two-thirds of 15%, which is your original point. It's definitely not worth spending money on, either way.

      Delete
    3. I don't believe even 1% "JD Advantage". Really, there are very few jobs in that category, and even fewer that go to fresh graduates.

      "JD Advantage" is just perfume to cover the faecal smell of reality.

      Likewise, "Other Professional" is a lie. I bet that that category includes secretaries, and maybe even clerks at Wal-Mart.

      Old Guy

      Delete
  3. I would add another red flag -- if a school is counting a lot of full time, long term jobs that are school funded -- do the jobs actually meet that definition. For example, Washington, DC's minimum wage is $9.50 -- at 35 hours per week (the minimum to count as full time), 52 weeks per year that is $17,290. Georgetown, which employed 80 of its own grads in purportedly ling term, full time jobs in the most recent stats, reportedly pays $12,000 for them. That seems to be less than minimum wage, and in this age of Obamacare mandated employer provided health insurance -- I doubt they include health insurance. So perhaps Georgetown's school funded jobs should be added to this red flag list. I would think something that pays less than minimum wage should be illegal if they are truly employed; and if they are volunteers, they should not be counted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Could that $12k figure be the salary for nine months? If so, it's $16k on an annual basis. Still below minimum wage.

      Old Guy

      Delete
    2. Do min. wage laws even apply to lawyers? My understanding is that they do not.

      Delete
    3. In order to be exempt from the hourly minimum wage, the worker must, among other things, have a salary of at least $23,600 per year. http://labor-employment-law.lawyers.com/wage-and-hour-law/am-i-an-exempt-employee-or-nonexempt-employee.html So it is true that, if a lawyer gets a salary of $23,600, a lawyer is exempt from being paid overtime or being paid the hourly minimum wage for the hours actually worked, but it does not mean a full time lawyer could be paid $12,000 per year.

      Delete
    4. 7:21 AM above fails to recognize that lawyers who are working in their professional capacity do not fall under the FLSA - at all. (Same is true for doctors, but then you never hear about a doctor being asked to work for less than minimum wage.)

      In any event, you can pay a lawyer $12K for a full year's worth of work. This has been thrashed out many times here and at ITLSS.

      Delete
    5. Here's one of the discussions from ITLSS. http://insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/2012/12/scrooge.html

      Just some of the relevant parts (whole thing is worth a read):

      "The Fair Labor Standards Act exempts "any employee employed in a bona fide . . . professional capacity" from minimum wage requirements. A good lawyer, of course, could argue that many aspects of law practice are routine rather than "professional." But the Department of Labor has forestalled that type of argument by declaring that "any employee who is the holder of a valid license or certificate permitting the practice of law . . . and is actually engaged in the practice thereof" counts as a "professional" exempt from federal minimum wage laws.

      Licensed lawyers, in other words, have no federal right to a minimum wage while practicing law. Thankfully, they can still claim minimum wage protection while pouring coffee or selling shirts. And it's possible that some state or local laws offer better protection to professionals. But if a licensed lawyer wants to practice law, federal law offers no minimum-wage guarantees.
      "

      Delete
  4. Duped, I agree... Especially since the 2013 numbers would be based on the class that entered in 2010, which was one of the largest.

    You could argue that moving forward, placement rates will increase because at some institutions class size dropped.... of course so did the average class IQ, so it may wash out anyway...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In addition, the market is glutted with recently laid off associates, and people who are actually partners in small firms which are on the brink of failure.

      I can't see why somebody would hire a new grad from a school in the bottom half of the lineup, when experienced people are available and desperate.

      Delete
    2. I wouldn't hire some dumb bozo even if there were a shortage of lawyers.

      Old Guy

      Delete
  5. So what happens to all those young attorneys who can't find real jobs and aren't practicing? How do you service that debt? I could barely support myself out of UG college with no debt and an okay job.

    Realistically, to pay off 150k in debt, I would estimate you have to put down an average contribution of at least 13-17k for 15 years of faithful payments. That's a grand to a grand and a half a month. Furthermore, the interest payments are so large, that, initially, you would have to chip the 150k down by increments of 20k a year just to be paying something towards the principle.

    I'm guessing its only safe to play the law school game if you have family connections.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Law is for rich kids—and nobody else.

      Old Guy

      Delete
    2. I completely agree.

      Among the long-term survivors, there is a clear bias towards the privileged class. Sure, a few got lucky and landed in gov't jobs, etc. but by and large the long-term successful people were juiced in from the start.

      Delete
  6. You only have to look at Law School Lemmings to see the students who will hit the job market within the next couple of years. These poor kids don't have a chance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed you look at yesterdays law lemmings and you see these poor kids who have just started at Charleston Law. Their GPS and LSAT scores just about put them near the bottom of all test takers. Looks like a lot of minorities entered as well. These people are screwed beyond belief.. You know I try to warn them and they think it is a personal attack. Can't wait to see their tweets 3 years from now..

      Delete
    2. They won't be able to afford internet access three years from now.

      Delete
  7. The law schools are still lying. The reforms have simply forced law schools to become a little more creative in their lies. Fortunately (for them), law schools are run by creative liars.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Replies
    1. Agreed. These institutions are run by licensed professionals sworn to uphold the law, who are rigorous in their self-policing

      Delete
  9. I graduated in 2013. By the end of law school, I knew most people in my class. I knew only a handful - and I do mean a HANDFUL of people with jobs lined up. My law school claims to have 9-month employment in excess of 65% of JD-required, full-time, bar-passage-required.

    Putting it mildly, I don't think there's a snowball's chance in hell that is anywhere close to true. I think it's an out and out fraud.

    In 9 months I knew only people who had LOST their law firm jobs to layoffs, and did not know of even 1 person becoming employed who hadn't been at graduation.

    The only way these figures get audited is if someone sues.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Set up a facebook group or just contact these people. Get enough of your class to sign an open letter saying the school's employment statistic is a lie.

      Send this open letter to the Above The Law blog. If you have +35% of your class signing and saying the 65% employment number was a lie at the 9-month mark, then your letter will be a significant thing. It will not only attract negative attention to your school. It might start an ABA investigation into the school that uncovers something. Other schools might be investigated too.

      Delete
  10. http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/08/20/Over-Half-of-College-Student-Loans-Not-Being-Repaid-on-Time

    Over Half of College Student Loans Not Being Repaid on Time

    "However, experts point out that a sizable portion of the nation's student loan crisis rests with those who choose to attend graduate school – a far smaller slice of the overall college student pie. Indeed, according to the left-leaning New American Foundation, 40% of the nation's $1 trillion student loan debt belongs to graduate students. "

    ReplyDelete