Last year’s class’s employment numbers for the University of Miami School of Law are not wonderful, but they’re not hideous either. They are much better than reported by the ABA and echoed all over the internet today.
I have no idea if the error was in UM’s reporting or the ABA’s transcription, but I do know that the summary I saw in the National Law Journal’s report this morning, based on ABA data, does not have the correct numbers. [Update: The ABA admits it was their “transcription error” and is correcting it.]
Here are the correct data:
There were 385 graduates in the class of 2011.
Of these, 369 are known to be employed (369/385 = 95.8%). But, of that 369 with jobs, only 280 (75.9% of those with jobs, 72.7% of the entire class) are employed in jobs that required bar passage, 33 (8.9%) were employed in jobs where the JD was an advantage, 11 (3%) were employed in “other professional” positions and 4 (1.1%) were employed in “non-professional” jobs.
This 72-76% of the class with law jobs (or if you prefer the 313 with law-related jobs, 84.8% of job-holders, or 81.2% of all graduates), is well above the national average, even if it’s still lower than we’d like. Nationally,
Slightly more than half of the class of 2011 — 55 percent — found full-time, long-term jobs that require bar passage nine months after they graduated, according to employment figures released on June 18 by the American Bar Association.
The NLJ reports that we hired 23% of our own grads. I knew that couldn’t be right — nearly one out of four? where did we put them? — and sure enough, it’s not true. Somehow something got double-counted in the “law school/university funded position” row of the report. That report shows we hired 88 grads, but the correct number is actually half that: Last year, we hired 44 of our own grads (11.4%) for short or long-term jobs. The lion’s share of them were hired by the Legal Corps where they get placed with non-profits or governments and get work experience. While it’s too soon to know the results for the class of 2011, their predecessors in the class of 2010 did very well out of this experience, with many parlaying it to full-time employment.
I’m told that the error in the ABA form (I’ve attached a copy of the erroneous form) seems to be in the “part-time long term” law school funded box, where the ABA report has 44. The actual number is zero, making the total of that row 44, not 88. Thus, even if one takes out the 44 people from the 313 with law jobs (and I’m not sure one should, since the Legal Corps often does lead to permanent work), that still leaves 269 with law jobs, or 69.9% of the entire class. That is not at all good — but it still beats the national average of 55% by a decent margin.
I doubt this correction will ever catch up with the inaccurate info, but there it is.
The 44 should be subtracted from the 280 law jobs obtained by graduates, not from the 313. Froomkin’s 313 includes the dubious “JD-advantage” category, which allows schools to claim that any nonlaw white collar job obtained by grads was a result of the imaginary advantage provided by a JD.
236 law jobs/ 385 grads = 61.2%. Now, granted, 61.2% is a tick above the national average of 55%, and Miami deserves recognition for this.
However, a huge chunk of the law jobs obtained by Miami 2011 grads are in the categories of law firm 2-10 (69) and solo (3). It is the case that the higher-ranked law schools typically place 10 percent or fewer of the graduating class in firms sized 2-10, whereas the weaker schools put about a quarter or a third in such firms. In this economy, few successful well-established niche firms want entry-level lawyers. So these jobs tend to be either recent grads banding together or gophers in the deadest of dead-end collection firms.
I agree that for apples-to-apples, the 44 should be subtracted from the 280. But I don’t agree that the 44 jobs are a “dubious” category at all. And I also don’t agree that — at least in the case of the Miami market — your knock on small firms is valid (although I understand that nationally it may have merit).
It’s hard to generalize about the ‘JD advantage’ jobs because they are so varied, but I know them to include work in investment banks, and in industry. And I know of a student who went to work in the family manufacturing firm, having gotten a law degree not to practice but because he thought it would help him run the company some day. I certainly don’t want to suggest that all jobs in that (smallish) category are like that, because I’m sure they are not, but I think it’s more wrong to dismiss them than to count them — at least as long as the category is a relatively small percentage of the graduating class.
I almost wrote about the small firm thing in the original post, because it’s something one hears often enough to suspect it must have truth, at least in most markets. But the Miami legal market — which is where we place a lot of grads — is different from almost any other city our size. We have a lot more small firms than is normal. I don’t know why, but that is how it is. Just today as I was coming out of the gym I ran into a former student — who did very well — who is studying for the bar and tells me he has accepted a job in the firm where he’s been clerking the last two years. He’ll be the second lawyer in the firm, which is a boutique provider of immigration advice to executives. “I go to work happy every day,” he said. One of my research assistants from last semester is going to be the only associate in a two-lawyer boutique formed by two big-shot lawyers who are leaving large firms to start their own. There’s just a lot of it around. Again, I don’t know why that is, but I’d be very wary of treating the small firm number as being as negative as I gather it is elsewhere.
Incidentally, I’m still hoping for hard numbers about the rate at which the Legal Corps fellows found work after their six-month post-bar-admission equivalent of a legal residency. The placement office, which I have found to be reliable in the past, estimates it to be about 80%, but I’m holding out for a firm count.
All of which is in service of saying that our number. while far from ideal, is substantially better than your comment suggests.
“Slightly more than half of the class of 2011 — 55 percent — found full-time, long-term jobs that require bar passage nine months after they graduated, according to employment figures released on June 18 by the American Bar Association.”
I would say that this is not a good figure, since that’s the core of a law program’s purpose.
Is these are the appropriate figures (from http://www.law.miami.edu/finaid/pdf/2011/continuing_students_031711.pdf), then the total explicit cost of attendance (not counting lost earnings) is $60K/year, resulting in a total of $180K.
You are comparing the national employment figure to Miami’s cost figure. You should be comparing that number to Miami’s employment figure — which is higher than the national number (but still too low), or comparing the national figure to whatever the average national tuition is. And, as I’ve argued above, I’d lump the “JD advantage,” or at least a good chunk of it, with the “JD required” number.
Even so, in this legal recession at least and possibly after it as well, a substantial minority of our grads — up to 20%? — will not find their legal degree enhances their short-term employability, and will struggle to find work that uses their new human capital. The days in which a law degree could be seen as a near-guaranteed meal ticket are over — especially if you don’t do very well in law school. It is important people understand that before deciding to attend.