I've been writing about the illusion of "JD-Advantage" in particular for some time now. The reasons why are essentially two-fold: (1) JD-Advantage is indeed farcical and plain-old bunk at an objective level, and (2) I have first-hand experience in the same, so that makes me somewhat of a subject-matter expert. I've included a handy summary of posts on the subject over the years at the bottom should anyone need a cure for insomnia or delusions of grandeur, either one.
As we all know, a data set of one is not a data set. So before everyone starts chiming in saying "but your experience is relative and not representative, because you are just one person, and forget about your dumb posts, anyway," here is some additional information in support of the Truth(tm):
There are a number of problems with the JD Advantage category as defined. One is (or perhaps two are) its breadth and pliability. They almost certainly cause some outcomes to be reported as JD Advantage that it would make no sense ex ante to attend law school to obtain (because there are much cheaper and easier ways to achieve the same result), and thus should not be considered placement successes (in my terminology, Law Jobs). Worse, the definitional flexibility may inspire some administrators to stretch the category beyond any reasonable scope, rationalizing some “demonstrable advantage in either obtaining or performing the duties of the position,” in order to report an outcome they can claim as successful, especially in hard times.
Bam. Yessir, and a voice from the academy, no less. But wait, there's more:
For example, is paralegal or law clerk (not for a judge, but as an unlicensed assistant for other lawyers) a JD Advantage position? To be clear, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with these jobs; they are valuable, honest work, and skilled besides. But you sure wouldn’t plan to spend 3 years and $150,000 in law school in order to get these jobs—in fact, you can get a paralegal certification in one year at many inexpensive community colleges, and you don’t even need that to get an entry-level job as a paralegal. And yet the ABA’s 2019 Employment Protocols for the Class of 2019 provide that both paralegal and law clerk are presumed to be JD Advantage placements by dint of job title alone. (See here at pp. 26, 67.) In the same publication, the ABA says legal secretaries are presumed to hold a “Professional” rather than a JD Advantage position (here at p. 68), though (in my experience, at least) their work in many if not most cases is as highly skilled and law-related as paralegal work, especially at smaller firms.
The JD Advantage category was instituted in reporting outcomes for the Class of 2001. But the number of such placements takes a giant leap—in fact, roughly doubles—after 2009, when Bar Passage Required jobs suddenly plummet into short supply. As Bar Passage Required jobs become more available (not because they increase in number, but because the number of graduates seeking them starts falling faster than the number of Law Jobs is falling), the number of JD Advantage placements begins to fall again...In other words, the easier it is for new graduates to find a Bar Passage Required job, the less likely those graduates are to take a JD Advantage job; and a lot more JD Advantage job-holders than conventional Bar Passage Required job-holders are looking for a different (and presumably more directly law-related) job just 10 months after graduating.
Add up all these categories of new graduates—(i) the people who took a JD Advantage position that is not a Law Job; (ii) the people who took a JD Advantage position that might (or might not) be a Law Job but don’t like it, and want to trade it for something more law-related; (iii) the people who can’t get a Law Job because they haven’t passed the bar or performed poorly enough in law school that legal employers prefer other candidates; and (iv) the people who don’t want a Law Job because they don’t want to do what law school most directly prepared them for. When you add them all up, I would guess (and, to be fair, it is only a guess) that it amounts to over half the holders of JD Advantage placements, quite possibly well over half. If that’s right, then excluding JD Advantage placements from Law Jobs (the placements that “count”) undercounts Law Jobs less than including them would overcount Law Jobs.
Well, this sounds like a happy, satisfied crowd to me, basking in the glow of the advantage the JD confers. In other words, they GTFO as soon as they can in many instances. To continue:
Some law schools claim to be revising their JD curricula in the belief that they should prepare many or most students for a wide range of generally law-related careers with a three-year postgraduate degree. Most of these are probably on the wrong track. While thoughtfully constructed one-year postgraduate degrees concentrating in law-related careers or disciplines may prove to be a valuable addition to some law-school curricula, overwhelmingly students seek JDs to become lawyers, and that does not appear likely to change anytime soon. Accordingly, most JD programs should concentrate on preparing students for the world of law practice in all of its many forms rather than for imaginary hybrid vocations their administrators hypothesize may be lurking just over the horizon.
I love this phrase - "imaginary hybrid vocations" that "administrators hypothesize may be lurking..." Not only is it the Truth(tm), but wow, sign me up, right? Who doesn't want to spend three years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in law school for these stellar outcomes.