Bryan Caplan  

Law School: No News Is Bad News

PRINT
Some Practical Advice... Abigail Hall's Case Against Su...
Common sense from Campos' Don't Go to Law School (Unless):
You can find a version of each school's employment statistics on the ABA's website. In addition, a school should have even more detailed employment and salary numbers for its most recent classes on its own webpage.  (If a school doesn't publish this information in a way that allows you to fairly evaluate how well its graduates are doing, do not apply to it.
Again, with feeling:
Here again you should apply a bright line rule: Do not consider applying to any school that does not publish reasonably comprehensive data regarding the salaries obtained by its graduates. "Reasonably comprehensive" means the following: the school must reveal the percentage of graduates in a class for which it has such data, along with the distribution of salaries in terms of medians, means, and percentiles.
Third time pays for all:
Here's a simple rule: if a school won't share some piece of information you need to help you understand what its graduates end up doing, and how much they're paid to do it, don't apply.
Confession of a professor of something other than law: As far as I can tell, B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. programs make law schools look transparent by comparison.




COMMENTS (4 to date)
Anonymous Grad Student writes:

After it became evident that less than 10% of students in my year were set to graduate on time for our program (based on the advertised estimated completion times), we've started the process of formally asking for whatever completion time statistics the department has. It's been like pulling teeth. The rumor-mill has hinted that this is a chronic issue.

I get why they wouldn't advertise this, but... ugh.

_NL writes:

The pool of applicants to law schools was, until the great recession, relatively robust and inelastic. More people wanted to attend a law school - any law school - than were allowed. Even the lowest-ranked schools have people desperate to be admitted. In fact, the constraint on high ranked schools is that they need to keep standards high to maintain their USNWR rank. The constraint on low ranked schools is they need to keep reasonable bar passage rates, both for ranking purposes and for accreditation standards.

LSAT seatings and law school apps declined in the second half of the great recession finally, as the awareness spread through applicants and college students that law school might be a bad deal. But five years ago it was still quite simple to fill a class with bodies.

The moral shaming argument of the transparency movement, coupled with the decline of applications the last few years, is putting more pressure to release information. But it used to be that more people attended law school without regard to getting a job, so it was very easy for schools to gloss over the specifics about their job stats. When it's easy to find 200 people who will go to your school for the prestige alone, why bother compiling and releasing sober job stats?

Robinson writes:

In fairness to PhD program, much of the post-grad success of a grad student depends on factors besides the program, such as the adviser and the number and quality of their publications.

This is in sharp contrast to law school, where the reputation of the school (which is to say, its "ranking") determines an enormous amount about job placement prospects.

Daublin writes:

Aside from transparency, I wish I had thought about these things at all at a younger age. I didn't even think to ask. Everyone around me just assumed that college was a good idea, and that moreover you should follow your own personal feelings about what to major in.

There's some truth in all of that, but the pendulum had gone way too far. Yes, you can choose to major in ____ Studies, but you should do that with the full knowledge that you're going to struggle finding even a low-paying job. Do you love ____ Studies enough to work restaurants for the next decade? I think most people would say no to that if they ever thought about it.

Comments for this entry have been closed
Return to top