Ever since the middle of the 1980s, law schools have been surveying their graduates regarding their success in the job market. The law schools then report the findings that they come across in an effort to acquire more students in enrollment. Many schools found 90 percent employment for graduates and starting salaries that well into the six figure range. But, with the changing economy, former law students claim that these statistics are now tainted. Law schools have been sued by former law students for misrepresenting the data and now schools are not going to submit its salary data when sending a report to the American Bar Association’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.
“We no longer are requiring law schools to report that to us,” said Amy Rotenberg. Rotenberg is a spokeswoman for the ABA’s section. “It is very difficult to obtain [salary information] and when it is obtained it is often distorted.”
Law schools are now being required to publish employment data that is more detailed than it was in previous years. The schools must publish how many jobs they report are full-time and how many jobs require passing the bar exam for employment. Close to 12 law schools have been sued in state courts by former law schools and those lawyers are looking for plaintiffs to sue 20 more law schools very soon.
“While Loyola has not guaranteed anyone a job, we work hard to prepare our students to pass the bar exam and pursue successful careers,” said Brian Costello. Costello is a spokesman for Loyola Law School, Los Angeles. “For over 90 years, thousands of Loyola graduates have done exactly that.”
A report released in 2011, the most available one, by the National Association for Law Placement shows that 87.6% of graduates 2010, who responded to the survey, were employed as of February 15, 2011. This is the lowest employment rate for the previous year of graduates since 1996. Of the same group of people who responded to the survey, 68.4% said that they are working in jobs that require passing the bar exam.
What really causes a problem with these employment statistics is the fact that the schools collect their own employment data for graduates, which presents a conflict of interest. In an unrelated case, two schools have admitted that they submitted false information on the credentials of their admitted students.
“It would be naive to assume that no law schools have falsified employment numbers,” said Brian Tamanaha. Tamanaha is a professor at Washington University’s law school in St. Louis.