A Wall Street Journal analysis of recent employment figures released by the American Bar Association reveals that just 55 percent of the law school class of 2011 found full-time, long-term jobs that require a law degree nine months after graduation. Previously, the ABA would disclose only the number of new lawyers who were employed in the nine-month time frame, a group that might include graduates employed in another field like computer science or sandwich artistry where the degree is nothing but a paperweight.
By comparison, the National Association for Law Placement found that 65.4 percent of the class of 2011 found jobs requiring bar passage — a full 10 percent higher than the ABA measure — while only 85.6 percent of new graduates found full-time employment at all.
More grim figures from the ABA's dossier on 2011 grads:
Only about 8% of 2011 graduates landed full-time, long-term jobs at larger firms with more than 250 attorneys.
Just a dozen schools reported that 80% or more of graduates found full-time, long-term legal jobs. The top five included the University of Virginia (95%), Columbia University (94%), Stanford University (91%), New York University (90%) and Harvard University (90%).
More than 20 schools reported that fewer than 40% of their graduates had secured such jobs. The bottom five included Whittier College (17%), University of the District of Columbia (21%), Golden Gate University (22%), Thomas Jefferson School of Law (27%) and Western New England University (30%).
The Journal reports that fewer people are applying to law school now as a result of the bleak outlook. But much of the class of 2011 and other recent graduates are still saddled with massive debts and no jobs, and some of them are angry with their law school for misrepresenting employment figures by failing to report how many employed graduates held jobs that required a J.D. The rift between reality and reported employment figures triggered a recent wave of lawsuits against law schools.
In a case where attorney Jesse Strauss represents plaintiff-students against Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Strauss told New York's Matthew Shaer, "What we want to see is a more efficient market in legal education. We can’t keep pumping out more and more J.D.s into a saturated market, and then still somehow tell kids they’re going to find a job. Something needs to be done.” If nothing else, group therapy, but sympathy doesn't keep the bill collectors away.