Thursday, October 31, 2013

Law Jobs: By the Numbers

Have you ever wondered what the employment statistics in U.S. News and World Report actually mean? Where do the mysterious numbers come from? Are they based in fact? Are they at all accurate?

The answers to these and other employment statistics questions are now available online in an easy-to-use source: Law Jobs: By the Numbers, compiled and published by the University of Denver School of Law’s Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System (IAALS).

Law Jobs demystifies the formulas used by U.S. News and World Report and a handful of other organizations that rank based on employment data. It further allows users to compare and contrast the job numbers from all these sources and to create your own formula based on the factors important to you.

The U.S. News and World Report formula looks at full-time, long-term jobs that either require bar passage or give an advantage to a JD and divides it by the total graduates:

US News and World Report Formula Bar Passage required full time long term and JD advantage full time long term in numerator and all graduates in denominator

The U.S. News employment numbers are therefore useful to people interested in the percentage of graduates employed in long-term, full-time licensed attorney jobs or in which an applicant with a JD is somehow advantaged over an applicant without a JD.  This formula may be over-inclusive if a person looking at the job numbers doesn’t believe that a person with a JD should work as anything other than a licensed attorney.

A person interested only in employment numbers for attorneys is full-time, long-term jobs, might want to review the statistics from Law School Transparency instead.  The LST formula divides full-time long term bar passage required jobs excluding solo attorneys by the total number of graduates.

Law School Transparency Formula Bar Passage required full time long term excluding solo practitioners in the numerator and all graduates in the denominator

Lastly, users can create their own formulas based on factors important to them. Looking at all US law school graduates, I created a formula that really focused on individuals employed in licensed attorney or JD advantaged positions, giving twice as much weight to the licensed attorney jobs.

Here is how my results compared with the popular ranking systems:

comparison chart my reults forty two percent compared to US News sixty five point seven percent LST fifty four point two percent NALP eighty four point 3 NJ seventy one percent and ATL fifty three point one percent

When eliminating the solo attorneys and the law school funded positions, employment for new attorneys was only 42%.

Unfortunately the numbers in the Law Jobs Calculator are based on the ABA’s Employment Summary Report, which are self-reported by the schools. How much you trust the numbers is up to you.

Law Jobs is great at demystifying law school employment statistics and it can provide hours of fun playing around with various formulas. But as with any other ranking system, apply the results with caution.

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