Thursday, June 18, 2015

Is every professional job a JD-Advantage job?: The case of Washington & Lee School of Law.

For the last four years, accredited law schools have been required to conduct a nine-month (now 10-month) after graduation employment survey. The ABA’s survey protocol requires schools to classify each employed grad’s status as one of the following: Bar Passage Required, JD Advantage, Professional Position, Non-Professional Position, or Undeterminable.
This post concerns the two intermediate categories. Consider the following definitions, adopted by the ABA for survey purposes:
JD Advantage: "A position in this category is one for which the employer sought an individual with a JD, and perhaps even required a JD, or for which the JD provided 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."
Employed – Professional Position. "A position in this category is one that requires professional skills or training but for which a JD is neither required nor a demonstrable advantage."
For the last four years, the average law school reported its JD-Advantage placement at between 12.0% and 14.5% and its "Professional Position" placement at between 4.4% and 5.0%. [1]
When a law school categorizes a non-law job as "JD Advantage," it is asserting that the graduate who holds that job has derived real value from his or her legal education even though he or she is not actually practicing law. By contrast, when a law school categorizes a non-law job as "Professional Position," it is acknowledging that the JD did not benefit the grad, even though he or she landed a white collar job of some sort.
Therefore, I appreciate when a law school places a grad in the "Professional" survey category, as opposed to JD Advantage. As noted, doing so is essentially a statement against interest on the part of the law school, and the law deems statements against interest to have special reliability. Moreover, a law school could probably get away with placing the grad in the JD Advantage category, given that JD Advantage is so broadly and loosely defined.
In this regard, I want to note that Washington and Lee (W&L) School of Law, over the past two years, has placed 33 grads in the category of JD Advantage and ZERO grads in the category of "Professional Position."

W&L Class of 2014:

 W&L Class of 2013:

W&L is one of only 11 schools to place zero grads in the category of Professional Position for the most recent survey.  It is one of only three schools to place zero grads in the category of Professional Position for the last two years running. The other two such schools are lofty T14s-- namely, the University of Virginia and the University of Pennsylvania.
Is it likely that every single professional nonlaw job obtained by a W&L law grad who graduated in 2013 or in 2014 was JD Advantage?  Again, no other non-T14 school and only two T14 schools have made this claim.

Obviously I make no accusations, but I think that it is important for scambloggers and friends to be on the lookout for little anomalies like this because law schools in general have such a sordid history, pre-ABA survey, of publishing deceitful placement stats. We have the survey now, it is true, but the ABA's auditing regime is far from ideal. [2]  And it is also important to monitor what law schools say about JD Advantage because it is how lousy law schools try to justify the value of their JD programs in spite of poor legal placement outcomes.



[2] "Each year, the ABA will select at least 10 law schools for Random School Review.. . . This Review will begin with a Level 1 Review and then, if warranted, proceed to a Level 2 and then to a Level 3 Review. . .A Level 1 Review consists solely of a review of all Graduate Employment Files. Graduate Employment Files contain the supporting documentation for a school’s reported employment outcomes. Documentation in the files will be presumed to be complete, accurate, and not misleading in the absence of credible evidence to the contrary." [Emphasis added]


  1. "By contrast, when a law school categorizes a non-law job as 'Professional Position,' it is acknowledging that the JD did not benefit the grad, even though he or she landed a white collar job of some sort."

    May I respectfully suggest that equating "professional" jobs with "white collar" jobs lets law schools off the hook too easily? There's a ton of white collar jobs that are not what 0Ls take the work "professional" to mean.

  2. They should just ask the student straight-up for a subjective "yes" or "no" answer whether the law degree assisted them in landing their present position. If yes = JD advantage. If no = not JD advantage.

    Of course, they'd rather risk that administers will lie than risk students telling the truth.

  3. I once interviewed — I'm not sure why, other than it was described as financial services — for an outside insurance sales position. Surely, JD-Advantage™.

    1. I likely was a sales position, no matter what it was described as.
      Also one with a high turnover - they'll hire you (low/no salary + commissions) to sell to all of your friends and relatives. Then when you're burned out, they'll replace you.


  4. The ABA needs to investigate W&L's reporting of JD Advantage vs. Professional positions.

  5. I now sell cars and trucks. It is fun work with zero drudge work except when it snows. And lucrative because the customers just keep walking through the door, calling and sending e-mails. Someone else does the advertising and covers the overhead. I never tell a customer I am a lawyer but it is a real advantage. I can tell them, e.g., that the National Insurance Institute crash ratings are better than the government's because the government is trying be nice and the NII is trying to avoid having to pay bodily injury claims by putting them into a safer car. That's J.D. advantage.

    My undergrad was History. That helps, too. I sold two trucks to a roofing contractor who came to take delivery with two men to drive them back. While the owner was doing the paperwork I chatted up his men. They asked about the differences between Chevy and GMC trucks (not much) but I made a few points and to illustrate told them of a friend who has a WWII army truck that was never delivered because the war ended and was repainted a civilian color and sold. It is an amalgamation of GMC and Chevy parts - that was the expediency of war. These were truck guys and they were eating this stuff up. Real truck history. I kept going. Told how there were three contracts for trucks. The Army got GM, The Navy, USMC and Coast Guard got International and the Studebakers went to Lend-Lease. Then the killer shot: "The Russians won the war with their 6x6 Sudebaker trucks!" They were loving it. Maybe one day one will buy a truck from me or a car for his wife or kid.

    Who says a liberal arts degree isn't valuable?

  6. Of almost any job it could be said that "the JD provided a demonstrable advantage in obtaining or performing the job". Consider that that definition includes jobs for which the JD is a HUGE DISADVANTAGE during hiring but provides a minor, even negligible, but demonstrable advantage in performance.

    In principle, "JD advantage" is a legitimate category. There are positions for which the JD offers advantages, at least in some contexts, but that do not involve the practice of law. In reality, however, "JD advantage" is just a golden wastebasket for whatever the scamsters want to chuck into it. And of course they want to chuck in as much garbage as they can, because "JD advantage" to a lemming suggests vice-president, not temporary administrative assistant.

    Why not redefine "JD advantage" to include a minimum salary, such as $60k?

    1. Old Guy, to answer your question: If they defined JD-advantage jobs with a minimum salary, they might also feel some pressure to define JD-required jobs with the same minimum salary. And in my opinion, starting salaries, which may very well be zero, are an even greater scandal than bogus employment statistics.

    2. If I wanted to define JD Advantage mathematically my definition would be...

      For a job to be JD Advantage the job must be
      (1) Of indefinite length (No temporary positions can count as JD Advantage)
      (2) The Pay the law grad gets for the job must exceed they average pay other people with the law grad's same undergraduate major would get after three years of experience.

  7. Based on your numbers, it looks like W&L's JD-advantage percentages are lower than average -- 11.8% over the last two years -- while you indicate that "the average law school reported its JD-Advantage placement at between 12.0% and 14.5%." Perhaps a school that had a high number of JD-advantage positions would have been a better example for your argument.

  8. JD Advantage positions are usually in bigger cities. I don't think many will be found in small areas unless they have a low salary. The employer will be getting an employee with a free JD but you will be the one paying for that expensive degree.

  9. George Mason class of 2014 - 44 JD advantage jobs (24 percent of class) - 1 professional position (0.5 percent of class).


    Right off the top, 24% of the class couldn't get into law proper. Every job classified as a "JD Advantage" - save one - job. I call Bull Dung!

    Now I feel like laughing like Master Fnog in Futurama: "You couldn't get into law! You lack the Will of the Lawyerer! Ha! Ha-ha-ha-ha! You have the Will of the Butler - a professional job - or perhaps the Gardener! But *not* the Will of the Lawyerer! Ha-ha-ha-ha!"

  11. Pizza Delivery is a JD Advantage job - you're in traffic all day, traffic has law, therefore, you'll be rocking those traffic laws armed with your trusty JD!

  12. An example of "JD Advantage" in performing the job: being able to administer oaths (in some states) by virtue of being a lawyer. Any other schmuck would have to go through the silly course required for a notary public.

  13. One foul-tasting irony here is that the schools are allowed to defraud people with vague concepts like "JD Advantage" because they hide behind privacy laws that are, in theory, designed to protect students.

  14. We should have a contest for the most outrageous job passed off as "JD Advantage". Serving coffee? Mopping the floor?

    1. Law school administrators are probably the most outrageous.

    2. You win the thread. Contact me to get your steak knives.

  15. Get a job after getting a JD? The JD is PRESUMED to be an advantage by law schools trying to bury the stink from their piles of shit.

    There's no required statement by an employer that a JD was an advantage, but the law schools are permitted by intentional neglect of the law to SAY that objectively and/or in fact the JD was an "advantage" in retail.

    JD-advantage is a determination made by a school never to be audited or questioned, even though THEY HAVE FIDUCIARY DUTIES to students under the Higher Education Act.

    Fuck them, fuck the fake 'regulators' (who are law school employees), and fuck the federal government.

    If one's promissory note has a 'defense to repayment' provision it's high time to assert it.

    There are more of us than there are of them, and unless we act quickly they'll get away without having to answer for how they've destroyed persons and public finances (debts they will never pay, because they're old).

  16. Right!

    It's all fake. The ABA rule presumes compliance (complete, accurate, not misleading) - bullshit. The schools - no matter what a graduate may or may not report to them - control the data and access to the data so it doesn't really matter if a grad says "professional" or not, the school will simply place that under "JD Advantage". No one in the ABA is a disinterested, impartial party. It's a revolving door of law school and political insiders. The 10 school "random" review probably isn't that random.. etc. and on and on and on..

    This is all nonsense to keep the Scam going.