Before 2011, a barista at Starbucks had the same meaning as someone employed by a big law firm in the eyes of the American Bar Association when receiving employment reports from law schools, according to Kyle McEntee of Law School Transparency. In 2011, there was a policy change requiring law schools to report detailed employment reports for their graduating classes—not just the generic employed or unemployed stats.
The policy change also required law schools to report long-term versus short-term jobs (long-term jobs are at least a year long) and what percentage of jobs required Bar passage. This is pertinent because schools offer fellowships. The fellowships are often yearlong, and their purpose is to help students transition to “real” jobs. They also count as long-term jobs on the reports schools provide.
Additionally, the numbers schools promote on their websites do not have to report the difference between jobs requiring Bar passage and jobs that do not. And that is kind of an important statistic for future law students.
According to U.S. News, the University of Virginia Law School has an employment rate of 95.6%, but 16% of that number are students who hold positions with the school. In 2013, only 62.2% of graduating law students had jobs requiring passage of the Bar nine months after graduation. What’s more, six out of the top 10 schools in the U.S. News rankings report funding jobs for at least 5% of their graduates.
But a job is a job, right? Yes. But a statistic is not a statistic. Especially when you are a law applicant deciding where to apply or where to go and you think one statistic means something it doesn’t actually mean. The policy change in 2011 definitely helped with transparency of law schools, but schools should continue to differentiate jobs requiring Bar passage from jobs that don’t. At the very minimum, law school applicants should be aware there is a difference.
Source: The Daily Tar Heel