Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Do Pace Law School Dean David Yassky and Asst. Dean Jill Backer know that Pace's own salary survey data undermines their hype about JD Advantage?

For the graduating class of 2014, the average law school reported having placed 14.5% of law grads in jobs that are classified as JD Advantage, an all-time high for that category, with standout schools claiming to place over 30% of their graduating class in such jobs. However, we are still relatively uninformed as to the quality of JD Advantage jobs that all these law grads are (allegedly) landing.
According to the murky definition adopted by the ABA for employment survey purposes,  a job is JD Advantage if "the J.D. provide[s] a demonstrable advantage in obtaining or performing the job, but itself does not require bar passage or an active law license or involve practicing law."

Note the phrase: "obtaining or performing." That means a law school gets to classify a job as JD Advantage where it can assert that a legal education helps the grad do his or her job, even if it did not help the grad actually get his or her job. And even where a JD arguably provides a demonstrable advantage in obtaining the job, it may be the case that the grad could have obtained the same or greater advantage in some far less burdensome way-- say, depending on the job, through an industry-specific master’s degree, a CPA, or even a paralegal certificate.

You know, a used car dealer can peddle a decrepit old rattletrap for $150,000 and truthfully claim that the vehicle provides a demonstrable advantage over walking. What the dealer may not mention is that the same or greater advantage could have been acquired in other far less expensive ways.  
Notwithstanding the above, Pace Law’s Dean David Yassky and Jill Backer, its Assistant Dean of Career and Professional Development have made some strong claims as to the desirability of JD Advantage jobs:
*     "There are a lot of jobs in addition to traditional law firm associate jobs, where legal skills and law school training are immensely valuable. . .Jobs like compliance at banks or pharmaceutical companies, jobs at big accounting firms that deal with corporate transactions or investigations, those are jobs that call for traditional legal skills even though they don’t have ‘lawyer’ in the name of the job." – Dean David Yassky 
*     "We know that people doing the fundamental work that law schools train their students to do are needed more than ever, and will continue to be more needed. . . And we know that businesses must deal much more with regulation today than they did as recently as 10 years ago or more, which means they need more people with legal training to do that work than they did a decade ago or longer." -Dean David Yassky
*     "The real problem is one of perception because the J.D. advantage position is actually perceived as "less than" a J.D. required position. In my view, this is misguided, and in fact hurtful to the legal industry." - Asst. Dean Jill Backer 
*     "It is assumed that a J.D. required position is more prestigious and has a better salary level. However, for many law graduates entering positions in compliance, HR and entrepreneurial roles, this is not the case. . . .This line of thinking is sorely behind the entrepreneurial mindset of our current economy."- Asst. Dean Jill Backer
In response to Backer, Kyle McEntee, director of Law School Transparency, wrote a great post at the Law School CafĂ© challenging law schools to "show us your work" on JD Advantage. McEntee noted that: (1) NALP reports that the average JD Advantage salary is 25% less than the average salary for graduates in bar-required jobs: and (2) Pace reported 14 grads of the class of 2014 as either law firm paralegals or law firm administrators--and placed nine of them in the JD-Advantage category.

In addition to the points made by McEntee, there is actual salary data from Pace graduates that further undermines Yassky and Backer’s loud-mouthed hype. Pace did a salary survey of nine-month-out grads for its graduating classes in 2009 through 2012, and reported JD Advantage salary data for two of those years, 2009 and 2011.  For both of these years, the JD Advantage median was significantly less than the Bar Passage Required median ($7,000 less for the Class of 2009 and $5,000 less for the Class of 2011).

A.  Pace Class of 2009:

B.  Pace Class of 2011:

Now, granted, these salary surveys were severely flawed in that the sample size is very small --fewer than than one-fifth of JD Advantage job holders actually reported their salary.

Still, these are Pace’s own findings, based on data obtained by Pace career service employees from Pace graduates. And yet these findings, which are consistent with NALP’s as to the inferiority of entry-level JD Advantage jobs in terms of pay, are not acknowledged by Yassky and Backer as they tout a Pace legal education for its JD Advantage value.

Were Yassky and Backer aware of their school’s own salary survey results when they made the statements quoted above? I do not necessarily think that outrageous puffery combined with convenient unawareness of contradictory facts, including data obtained by one’s very own institution, establishes that the declarant is deliberately trying to mislead. However, it does seem suspiciously two-paced. Which may be unavoidable when one is shilling for a pace-of-shit law school.


  1. Interestingly, the graduates themselves were not eager to croon about their JD-Advantagedness. On would think they would be beating down the doors at Pace, hugging Backer and Yassky with tears of rapture streaming down their faces, and proclaming the value of the Pace JD to one and all.

    As it stands, when you combine JD-A and "Other Professional", less than half of the respondents to the salary survey came from these categories. Nope, if people were proud of anything, they reported their JD-required job, not their JD-Advantage job.

    1. 25% less why? Because you've blown 3+ years (Bar exam) for .. yes.. nothing. If these people could work in a legal job, they'd be doing so. So it's nothing. Less than nothing. $150k down. Plus debt from undergrad.

      And now you have a job which pays, on average, 25% less than a corresponding "average" JD-required job. And these, today, are shit to begin with. So take that number "S", probably around $40-45K, and multiply by 0.75 = "S1" or Shit Prime which is $33-34k.

      Now go service your loans and pay rent, food, commute, etc.

      The picture is grim.

    2. I'm ashamed to let people know I went to law school but am not working as a lawyer. Here's why. The obvious question is "why did you waste $350,000 in lost wages and tuition."

      There is no good answer to this question other than "I was suckered." No one really wants to hear about Biglaw hiring practices, ageism, 47,000 graduates competing for 25,000 jobs, etc.

      The only reason I have had any success professionally is because of my own determination, not because of whatever I picked up during the three years I wasted in law school.
      Law school is a complete waste of time for the vast bulk of people. Law professors and their enablers are the lowest form of pond scum. I discourage everyone I can from going to law school. I trash talk my school as much as I can, and would never hire a law firm that had any connection with my school. I want to see these schools shut down and law professors begging on the street for scraps of food.

    3. If you look at those 2 charts, the only reason the median is as high as it is is probably due to the amount of respondents working in the greater metro NY area. However, the data is from 2009 and 2011. That's old data as well. We've had 6 and 4 subsequent classes of grads from 14 other schools in NY alone out there since then flooding the market and further driving down prices.

      Fairly soon, we may hit the $15/hr. minimum wage level for attorneys. At that point, I'd suggest switching to fast food - some are there already btw... Of course by then, humans will have lost out to automation in order to reduce the $15/hr. labor cost.

    4. "I'm ashamed to let people know I went to law school but am not working as a lawyer. Here's why. The obvious question is "why did you waste $350,000 in lost wages and tuition."

      There is no good answer to this question other than "I was suckered." No one really wants to hear about Biglaw hiring practices, ageism, 47,000 graduates competing for 25,000 jobs, etc."

      This is me too. I have no good reason other than I was suckered. And it stings to be a "dupe", to have been taken advantage of so easily.

      Fuck law school. Fuck law professors. Fuck the entire legal education system and the legal profession in the US. Absolute scum.

      Don't even get me started on discrimination in biglaw hiring (which my school actually recognized, the (ahem) "career services director" pointing it out to me after I received a grand total of zero interview offers during OCI despite being in the top 5% of my class and pretty much the entire top 10% other than me (who were all far younger) receiving multiple interviews and all working summers at nice firms. The bitch refused to do anything, merely telling me - after blaming me for the problem via picking apart the resume that she had personally approved! - that I might need to start networking.)

      Yeah, fuck networking too.

    5. It matters. Those jobs matter since law is Up or Out. The smart people try and parlay those names on their resume into gov't or in-house positions which are much safer, relatively, than private practice which is churn-and-burn.

      The Track you start on matters. Age matters. Everything, really, matters. And like I say and have for years, you need to have the battle for law school won before it's ever fought. You'd better have strong connections. You'd better come from money. You'd better have youth and looks, etc. All of these things matter despite the meritocracy bs people like to believe and then play Blame the Victim when and if things go south.


      Maybe.. In my experience, it's worth shit.. People being networked don't like it. And by and large it's a waste of time.

    6. There is a lot of wisdom in this subthread. A non-private-practice path after law school requires a lot of hustling and overcoming objections, rather than the theoretical/mythical pontifications of cloistered Deans and Prawfs where the private sector actively and openly embraces the JD.

      At it makes sense, really. Why would a third party expect a JD to do anything but practice law? One can invent a thought experiment where a JD is highly valued, and these job openings do happen once in a great while, but not often enough to justify outrageous tuition costs and absorb thousands of newly-minted JDs each year.

      But the Dean and Prawfs "got theirs," you see. Who cares about actual accountability (or truth) after that point?

    7. My fellow older graduates—and "old" starts around 30 or 31—are telling the truth about age-based discrimination. I'm the poster boy for that. Quite recently I finally found work, but right up until I was hired I despaired of finding anything.

    8. "One can invent a thought experiment where a JD is highly valued, and these job openings do happen once in a great while"

      Lots of jobs like that exist.

      After 8-12 years of practice as a lawyer, that is.

      But for the noobs? It is exactly as you say - it's blue moon stuff.

      I would like to be at a bar function (etc) when some shill brings up the "regulatory compliance JD advantage job" myth, and politely ask a question or two that publicly demonstrates the stupidity of the claim.

  2. To me, the most interesting thing about these reports is the large percentage of respondents who declined to provide their actual salaries - whether it be for an attorney job or JD advantage job. For example, in the 2011 report, only 26 out of the 89 (29%) Pace grads who purportedly landed bar passage required jobs reported their salary while only 11 out of the 58 grads (19%) who purportedly landed JD advantage jobs reported their salary amount.

    You have to ask yourself, why would such a large percentage of Pace grads who purportedly landed some sort of legal job decline to report how much that job pays? Perhaps some felt that it was nobody’s business. Maybe others were just being modest. But I suspect that most were either lying about their employment status or too embarrassed to give the actual figure. I say this because there seems to be a direct correlation between a school’s reputation and the number of employed grads who report their salary. For example, according to LST, at Harvard, 94.8% of the class of 2013 was employed and reported a salary. At BC, 68.4% of the class of 2013 was employed and reported a salary. At Pace, only 20.4% of the class of 2013 was employed and reported a salary. Anyone notice a pattern?

    Bottom line is, the more you dig into the numbers at a toilet school like Pace, the worse those numbers look. And if 80% of the grads of a law school can’t or won’t tell you: (1) that they have a job and (2) the amount that job pays, it’s almost certainly a school that should be avoided as if your life depends upon it.

    1. I still remember to this day when I met a Pace 2L when I was a 2L at some B.S. law conference, back in the early 2000s. You know the kind...volunteer as a law student for "networking" opportunities, when the practicing attorneys are just trying to get some CLEs inbetween drinks at a resort and don't want to be bothered. I got it then, and I get it now.

      This guy was going on about Pace's Environmental Law program, and how respected the school was, etc.etc. He was working the room at every opportunity, so I have to give him credit for showing some moxie. Me? I was panicking about how to get some semblance of a job a year later while not looking foolish, with some chance of paying back my egregious student loans. I finally was seeing the forest for the trees; Pace-boy was still imagining what late model German car he would be buying right after graduation, if you will.

      I wonder how he's doing. Hopefully well, but given the fact that the truth had not hit the fan and the Great Recession was only a few years away, I have to wonder.

    2. I don't think it's lying or embarrassment (or privacy or modesty, for that matter). I suspect that a lot of these people are simply working in a capacity where they don't have a "salary" per se. They are working in a volunteer position, or on an "eat what you kill" basis, or as a solo, or in a job where the hours and salary are irregular. I agree with you, though, that a law school having a large percentage of its graduates in unreported-salary jobs is not a good sign.

    3. If you don't earn a salary, then you are not employed and you don't have a job.

    4. Indeed, "eat what you kill" and solo arrangements are usually just a cover for unemployment. Few recent graduates can make a go of solo practice nowadays. Even Tricia Dennis, with her long experience and established presence, admits to struggling—and to dropping almost a quarter of a million dollars a year on advertising.

      Sole practitioners and the like should be put down as unemployed unless they can prove a significant income net of expenses.

  3. "In my view, this is misguided, and in fact hurtful to the legal industry"

    You know what else is hurtful to the legal industry? Every square inch of your fucking diseased-ass law school.

  4. I just want to give you credit Dybbuk for being so eloquent and logical in your take down of these clueless people (I say clueless, because I don't think they are getting it, not that they are intentionally attempting to mislead people). That nutcase female professor who had an issue with you had no chance against you. She undoubtedly thought that just because she was a law professor, that she could intimidate you into silence. She should have stuck with writing worthless law articles.

    1. +1

      Of all the despicable characters to emerge from this swamp, that "open road" individual just might take the cake in my book.

    2. Her, and that so-called brighter slighter of others, who thinks he is a fighter, but in actuality really a blighter.

  5. "There are a lot of jobs in addition to traditional law firm associate jobs, where legal skills and law school training are immensely valuable..."

    Law schools don't train anyone to do anything. At the most, law schools educate. Having a law school education is of little benefit to any company unless the law graduate has actually practiced law. Sure, a law student may receive a very small bit of practical training at the animal rights legal aid clinic, but this will not translate into a useful skill required or admired by potential employers.

  6. Imagining The Open ToadJune 10, 2015 at 3:55 PM


    OT, but above is ABA's letter officially announcing denial of ITLS accreditation bid.

    1. Thanks for sharing that. Now we need to find out why Indiana Tech didn't get accreditation.

      What's going through the minds (such as they are) of the inaugural class? They'll graduate less than a year from now, yet their toilet on the Wabash has failed to achieve accreditation. Will they end up with a degree that won't even allow them to join the bar? How happy are they now with Alexander's rag-tag band?

  7. Those data are dreadful.

    In 2011, only 40% of the graduating class at Pace had a job requiring membership in a bar. Of them, only one in nine reported a salary, and the median figure was $60k. It's a safe bet that the group that reported salaries had higher salaries than the rest, so the median for all of those allegedly working in jobs requiring licensure was probably below $60k.

    As for the quarter of the class allegedly in "JD-advantage" jobs, those that reported a salary weren't making very much. The 25th percentile was only $21k—for a law school in expensive Westchester County, New York.

    Only four graduates in five were listed as employed nine months after graduation.

    And bear in mind that those data are four years old. The data for this year's graduates are almost certainly a good deal worse.

  8. Okay.. but..

    "Go to Pace!"

    I mean, all of that is well and good analysis but..

    "Go to Pace!"

    You know, and take some personal responsibility and own those outcomes.

    "Go to Pace!"

    Sorry.. I couldn't resist.

    Btw, "Go to Pace!".

  9. I saw this:


    "I've read this plenty of times on this board and honestly just don't buy it. For undergrad I passed on Penn State and went to a small school in TX, Sam Houston State University. A few years out of undergrad I worked hard networked right and I am doing very well for my self. I have decided to go to law school. It is my passion and I am going to a tier 4 school, STCL, with no regrets on paying sticker (less the 60% covered by post 9/11 GI Bill).

    I have never been limited by the name on my Degree, and law school is no different imo."

    These are like, how do I best describe, the ideal law school candidates from the law schools' POV.

    God Knows where this dude is now.

    1. Exactly. People don't understand the difference between undergrad (where the employment market accepts lower-tier graduates) and law school (where God help you). The TTT/TTTTs are going to be pushing this myth hard.

      Sam Houston State undergrad = not a stain in the least
      South Texas/St. Marys/Texas Southern = mark of death

      Kids, you WILL be judged by what school you go to. Trust me. I got a 168 LSAT and took the money at a regional TTT. Graduated 12th percentile w/ tons of experience. Hiring managers ranked me lower than mid-level large state school grads and lower-third T14 grads (as in they got interviews and job opportunities that were closed to me). I was naive about the way the industry works.

      Please don't make my mistake. Know the industry and do not rely on rules of thumb that work in other fields. A TTT or (God help you) a TTTT degree is a mark of death that hiring attorneys (even those with TTT and TTTT credentials) will think you are a moron.

      The whole problem with this comment is the last three letters: "imo." Your opinion doesn't matter. Reality had been decided for you.

    2. As I've said before, even Harvard and Yale are no longer necessarily good choices. A Duke or a Northwestern is questionable in the absence of a very substantial discount. and a UCLA or a Minnesota may be a bad choice even at zero tuition. Don't even think about a Cardozo, to say nothing of a Thomas Jefferson.

    3. 8:42 is spot on. A good regional undergrad can still open some doors, especially with some "hard work" and a little luck on your side.

      Law School, in contrast, is all about preftiege. As other commentators have said, you have to have won the law school battle before you even start, which is 180 degrees out from the undergrad experience. ScamDeans and LawProfs know this, which is why they sell, sell, sell.

    4. "God Knows where this dude is now."

      Appears she's an ADA in the Harris County, TX (Houston metro). Some special snowflakes do make it.

    5. Yes, some special snowflakes do make it, just as some bets in the casino pay off. Neither scam would work at all if everyone ended up a loser.

      What they don't tell you is that relatively few people make it, and those people tend to have advantages that you may not: a good school (a Harvard or a Penn, not "Tier 2"), good grades (one of the best few students in the class), wealth, familial connections, the right age (28 is about the limit), the right race, the right surname.

    6. And gender. Believe it or not, my local (well, down by where the law school is..) area DA's roster looks like a fashion show. It's almost as if Males Need Not Apply.

      Don't you think they'd want these jobs too, especially because of the PSLF aspect as well? Yet, the roster is all fairly recent young, attractive female attorneys.

      Don't make the mistake of thinking an average male law grad and an average female law grad, or any such comparable level, has the same chances out there.

      This is just what I've seen and not only there but in different levels of State service. It's dominated by women with a few "token" males.

    7. Some types of clerkships are dominated by women. Since the bench is mostly male, one can guess the reason.

  10. Were Ambrose Bierce still alive, he might make the following entry in his dictionary:

    LAW SCHOOL: The carbolic smoke ball of the twenty-first century.