March 21, 2013
Top 25 Law Schools Whose Grads Earn the Highest Starting Salaries in the Private Sector
For its ranking of law school schools whose graduates earned the most in the early stages of their private sector career, Forbes turned to Payscale. According to Jacquelyn Smith's The Law Schools Whose Grads Earn the Biggest Paychecks:
Payscale combed through the profiles of its 35 million unique users who supply compensation information on its website to find which law school grads make the most. They looked at starting salaries of graduates from 98 popular law schools and found roughly 31,000 of them in their database who had reported salary information, including 9,100 working in the private sector with less than five years of experience.
With that methological insight in mind, Payscale's reported salary data are "current median salaries (as of the first quarter of 2013) for recent law school graduates who in almost all cases finished law school within the last five years. The median work experience for this group is two years, and their median age is 29." Smith's article lists the top ten schools ranked by starting median pay and includes mid-career medium pay in the private sector. No surprises; all are elite law schools. But if you take the time to view the entire Top 25 law schools here, you may find a couple of surprises. For example:
Forbes Ranked 21: University of San Francisco School of Law (US News 2014 Ranked 144)
Starting Median Pay (Private Sector): $81,600
Mid-Career Median Pay (Private Sector): $150,000
Forbes Ranked 23. Santa Clara University School of Law (US News 2014 Ranked 96)
Starting Median Pay (Private Sector): $80,700
Mid-Career Median Pay (Private Sector): $189,000
Hat tip to Staci Zaretsky's The Best Law Schools For Getting Rich Quick (ATL). [JH]
ATL Survey: What factors do you believe ought to be included (and ignored) in a hypothetical new, improved approach to ranking law schools?See Brian Dalton's ATL post, What Would a More Relevant Law School Ranking Look Like? You Tell Us, for background on the issues and a link to the brief survey questionnaire. [JH]
March 15, 2013
Class of 2012 Ranking: The Top 20 Law Schools with Highest Average DebtThe schools are a mix of elite and also-rans with Class of 2012 average graduate debt ranging from #1 Thomas Jefferson at $168,800, to #20 Cornell at $140,000. For more, see Brian Tamanaha's The Law Graduate Debt Disaster Goes Critical. [JH]
March 14, 2013
Short Takes On The News: Google Reader, The Apple e-Book Case, TLDs, And Law Applications
Google is killing Google Reader as of July 1, 2013. I don’t use the product myself (or RSS for that matter), so I have no feelings about the move one way or the other. However, any numbers of articles in the popular and semi-popular press express shock and/or sadness at the announcement. Felix Salmon writes a Reuters post asking whether Google has killed RSS altogether, though he suggests that Facebook and Twitter feeds may have replaced the immediate need for RSS. A post in Socialmedia Today offers instructions on how to move to other RSS readers out there. Ars Technica posits that an equivalent of Google Reader will wind up as part of Google+. That wouldn’t be surprising as Google seems committed to creating more reasons for subscribers to mingle on Plus pages. CBS News reports that Digg has announced it is building a substitute reader to fill the gap.
Poor Tim Cook. The Apple CEO has been ordered by Judge Denise Kote to give a deposition to the Government in the Apple e-book antitrust case. He had declined due to lack of any unique knowledge about the arrangement with publishers according to paidContent. It was Steve Jobs’ baby all the way. Bloomberg fills in a few more details. Cook was running Apple on a day-to-day basis while Jobs’ illness played out. Other depositions from Apple employees suggest Cook did have private conversations with Jobs about e-books. There’s something about that “under oath” thing that helps bring these things out. Apple is the only defendant left in the case with the publishers having settled.
It seems that Amazon’s attempt to gain the top-level-domains (TLD) of .book and .author (and others) is raised the ire of the Authors Guild, Barnes & Noble, and other objectors. ICANN has approved the creation of additional TLDs and the land rush is on with Google, Microsoft, Amazon and others attempting to snap up domains. Amazon potentially would be the one who would control registration for .book sites and could conceivably keep the domain for its own use. The Guild thinks this is anticompetitive. My reaction to the Guild in past scrums such as the Apple e-book case and the Google scanning case is the Guild is wrong. Here, I think the organization is absolutely right. I can see Google controlling .goog in a similar way as the TLD is reflective of its corporate name. However, .book and .author are too generic to be controlled strictly by Amazon. The comment period is closed, but more information on what ICANN is doing is here.
Finally, the latest LSAC figures are no comfort to deans who may be ruffled by the latest U.S. News law school rankings:
As of 03/08/13, there are 323,167 Fall 2013 applications submitted by 46,587 applicants. Applicants are down 17.9% and applications are down 21.6% from 2012. Last year at this time, we had 84% of the preliminary final applicant count. Last year at this time, we had 88% of the preliminary final application count.
The charts are here. Many are asking the question why the University of North Texas is opening the UNT Dallas College of Law for business in Fall of 2014 in light of figures that are not likely to get better in the coming years. Is Texas really an underserved legal market? [MG]
March 13, 2013
Let the Reckoning Begin: Top Winners and Losers in 2014 US News Law School Rankings
NLJ's Karen Sloan has the story and list of top gains/losses in ranking positions at Major shakeups in the middle ranks of 'U.S. News' law school list.
Meanwhile ATL's Elie Mystal reports on law deans complaining about their schools 2014 ranking. See Responding to the New U.S. News Rankings: The Parade of Butthurt Deans Begins Now. Following Mark's A Musical Reaction To Today's US Rankings, here's The Animals performing Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood. [JH]
Legal Education: Law Profs Express "Concern" to ABA Task Force While Law School Transparency Launches Reform Central
1. That which affects one's welfare or happiness.
2. The expression of solicitude, anxiety, or compassion toward a thing or person.
In The Economics of Legal Education, a letter submitted to the ABA Task Force on Legal Education last week, 67 law profs suggest the following possible and sometimes conflicting reforms based on their collective concern over the current economic state of the legal academy:
- reducing the undergraduate education required for admission to three years;
- awarding the basic professional degree after two years, while leaving the third year as an elective or an internship;
- providing some training through apprenticeship;
- reducing expensive accreditation requirements to allow greater diversity among law schools;
- building on the burgeoning promises of internet-distance education;
- changing the economic relationship between law schools and universities;
- altering the influence of current ranking formulas; and
- modifying the federal student loan program.
Obviously not a template for restructuring the legal academy. For more, see The Economics of Legal Education: A Concern of Colleagues (March 2013) and then compare that to the Core Issues section of Law School Transparency's Reform Central.
The future of legal education is uncertain. High prices, poor job prospects, and dwindling salaries will force legal education to undergo significant change. A variety of stakeholders, many of whom are invested in the traditional law school model, will shape the substance of and timeline for reform. LST will contribute to the reform by holding other stakeholders accountable, by making relevant data and information easy to consume, and by pursuing policies that aim to make legal education better and more affordable. Reform starts with transparency and will end with a total reimagination of the modern law school.
March 12, 2013
A Musical Reaction To Today's US Rankings
For whatever its worth, the National Law Journal does a little analysis of its own for the law school rankings released today. The story confirms that the churn in the middle is due to a new methodology that takes into account the type of graduate employment. Is it churn or is it realignment? In any event, there are from comments from at least one dean and a look at who moved up and down. There was little movement in the top schools.
I offer a little musical tribute that goes with the new rankings. I was immediately reminded of the music of the 1960s band The Animals. What did Eric Burdon sing, “it’s a hard world to get a break in, all the good things have been taken.” That’s from It’s My Life and the words could easily apply to the schools looking upwards in the rankings. The band’s other hits, Don’t Bring Me Down and We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place can also apply depending on where a school wound up.In other news, Northwestern University School of Law is reducing its class size by 25 students and raising tuition by 3%. Faculty salaries have to be paid somehow, I guess. If Northwestern (ranked #12 this year) is reacting this way, what hope is there for the “lesser” schools. [MG]
New Data "Unmasks" Schools, Says US News Law School Rankings Czar
From the Bloomberg Law YouTube description:
Law schools ranked by US News & World Report magazine in the 50 to 150 range were the ones most affected by the availability this year, for the first time, of more detailed graduate employment data from the ABA, according to US News rankings czar Bob Morse.
The new data "unmasked" that some of those schools had a relatively small number of their students taking full-time long-term jobs that require a JD, Morse tells Bloomberg Law's Lee Pacchia.
Many schools on the east and west coasts also saw drops in their rankings as a result of the new data, Morse said. University of San Francisco School of Law had this year's biggest drop, declining 38 places on the rankings, coming in dead last at 144 on the list.
As for the power of US News' rankings, which some deans blame for legal education's woes, Morse says, "US News isn't the ABA . . . We're not responsible for the cost law school, the state of legal employment, the impact that the recession has had on hiring, or the fact that there are 10 or 20 new law schools that have opened over the past couple of decades. And we're not responsible for the imbalance of jobs to graduates."
Let the Number Crunching Begin: US News 2014 Law School Rankings
Law school deans, are you ready for your report card? -- Elie Mystal, The 2014 U.S. News Law School Rankings (ATL).
It's time for the annual ritual. Comparing annual law school rankings by various ranking factors this year as well as with prior years might make for some interesting Excel spreadsheets.
US News Law School Rankings for 2014:
March 11, 2013
New Ordering System for US News Law School Rankings!
In response to complaints, US News is reorganizing its law school rankings display. Schools will be listed in alphabetical order within sets of numerical ranges and without identifying each school's rank within the specified range. For example, the schools listed here can only claim to be in the Top Ten.
OK, OK, the US News link provided above is just a teaser for the 2014 Law School Rankings which will be officially released tomorrow. [JH]
March 06, 2013
From Ambulance Chasing Plaintiffs Lawyer to Former State Chief Justice, Saint Louis University Appoints New (and Not Interim) Law Dean
From the March 5, 2013 press release:
Following a national search, the Honorable Michael Wolff has been selected as the new dean for Saint Louis University School of Law, effective immediately. A current SLU LAW faculty member, Wolff brings an established record of leadership to his new role, having served 13 years on the Missouri Supreme Court and as its Chief Justice from 2005-2007.
And presumably less "politically incorrect" than the self-admitted "plain-spoken, ambulance chasing plaintiffs lawyer" interim dean who resigned on March 4th. See Interim SLU law dean says he resigned because of his big mouth; new dean is named by Debra Cassens Weiss (ABAJ News).
Are former interim deans eligible to serve on ABA accreditation site inspection teams? [JH]
March 05, 2013
ABA Proposes Revised Standards For Academic Law Libraries
A major snowstorm and a school early closing give me the opportunity to consider the proposed ABA standards revisions regarding academic law libraries. There are at least two items that stand out. One concerns the relative autonomy law school libraries have enjoyed in a university library system. The common model has the library budget coming from the law school and the director reporting to the law school dean.
The proposed revision still supports autonomy for the library:
Standard 602. ADMINISTRATION
(a) A law school shall have sufficient administrative autonomy to direct the growth and development of the law library and to control the use of its resources.
The revised interpretation, however, opens the door for the library for more accountability to the general university library system than under the current standard. Here are the changes to the Interpretation:
This Standard recognizes that substantial operating autonomy rests with the dean, the director of the law library and the faculty of a law school with regard to the operation of the law school library. The Standards require that decisions that materially affect the law library be enlightened by the needs of the law school’s educational program. This envisions law library participation in university library decisions that may affect the law library. While the preferred structure for administration of a law school library is one of law school administration, it is preferred that the law school administer the law library, a law school library may be administered as part of a general university library system if the dean, the director of the law library, and faculty of the law school are responsible for the determination of basic law library policies, priorities and funding levels requests.
I understand that a small number of law schools have integrated the administration of the law library as part of the larger university library system. I can imagine some issues in this context. One is whether a university acquisitions policy overrides that of a law school. Faculty members at a law school never expect that a book request may need to be approved by another administrator who is not part of the law library, which is a possibility under this kind of arrangement. Anyone who works in an academic law library knows how the law school administration tends to take money from the library accounts near the end of a budget cycle. Now add a university library system to that equation. One would think that part (d) of the proposed standard would protect the law library budget:
(d) The budget for the law library shall should be determined as part of, and administered in the same manner as, the law school budget.
I’m not sure how this would work as a sufficient safeguard in practical application.
The second major change concerns the collection. Standard 606(a) recognizes that a library collection can consist in part with purely electronic access to core (primary) materials:
Standard 606. COLLECTION
(a) The law library shall provide a core collection of essential materials accessible in the law library through ownership in the law library or reliable access. The choice of format and of ownership in the library or a particular means of reliable access for any type of material in the collection, including the core collection, shall effectively support the law school’s curricular, scholarly, and service programs and objectives, and the role of the library in preparing students for effective, ethical, and responsible participation in the legal profession.
I’m assuming that reliable access includes sources such as Lexis, Westlaw, Hein Online, BNA, and others. It’s not to say that libraries haven’t transitioned to electronic access to some items, but there is an awful lot of redundant print that eats at a library budget. I can easily see print versions of law reviews disappearing with or without this revised standard in place. Joe writes a lot about the “Shed West” era in law libraries. I think he’ll see a major acceleration if “reliable access” means Westlaw via text and PDF copies of reported cases and other materials. Shall we start dumping very expensive reporters? That would likely affect legal writing programs. At the same time, what skills are we teaching that require such an extensive and expensive collection of redundant print? Think of the shelf space savings in addition to the cash.
One of the major resource fights between libraries and legal writing programs concerns citators. Legal writing programs like print to teach how Shepard’s Citations work. The new proposed standard 606(b)(8) changes the necessity to keep Shepard’s print volumes:
(b) Interpretation 606-5 A law library core collection shall include the following:
* * * *
(8) those tools, such as citators and periodical indexes, necessary to identify primary and secondary legal information and update primary legal information.
Goodbye Shepard’s in print. Goodbye Current Law Index. Hello LegalTrac, Shepard’s online, KeyCite, Bloomberg Citator and others. Even Google Scholar’s limited free citator has some value. Whenever I’ve taught advanced legal research I’ve cautioned my students to avoid Shepard’s in print if at all possible. I’ll ask again, what skills are we teaching? I think in these days of BYOD (bring your own device) where students more or less have access to law school subsidized subscriptions it would be a welcome change to emphasize the electronic versions of some of these resources over print when they are functionally better. The fact that law schools can offer some on site database access to alums (Lexis Academic includes Shepard’s, for example) doesn’t mean access to these services has to end at graduation. Law schools love staying in contact with alums. Making the library and its online resources available is one way to do that.The full set of proposed changes (so far) to chapters 6 and 7 of the standards is here. More explanatory material is here. [MG]
March 04, 2013
The Latest From The LSAC on Law School Applications
Still not good, not that anyone was expecting a major improvement over past weeks:
As of 02/22/13, there are 288,718 Fall 2013 applications submitted by 41,010 applicants. Applicants are down 18.4% and applications are down 21.8% from 2012.
Last year at this time, we had 74% of the preliminary final applicant count. Last year at this time, we had 79% of the preliminary final application count.
See the charts here. [MG]
February 28, 2013
Law School Marketing: "Is today the day I'm going to break down and file a complaint?"
That would be a complaint with a state bar ethics panel alleging that law school administrators have been misleading students about the value of legal education and in some cases knowingly spreading false information about their schools. The "is today the day" statement was expressed by Ben Trachtenberg (University of Missouri School of Law) in the below Bloomberg Law interview.
Trachtenberg is the author of Law School Marketing and Legal Ethics [SSRN]. It was one of two articles featured on LLB at On Playing Games with Law School Data: The buck stops where and by what means of accountability? [JH]
February 21, 2013
The Saga Continues: National Jurist Admits the Obvious -- The Rate My Professors Data Used in its Law School Rankings is Pretty Damn Inaccurate
But the editorial staff of National Jurist fails to also admit the even more significant info antic obvious; the data sources in Rate My Professors cannot be verified. Citing the opps from the rag known as National Jurist about its goofy as hell law school rankings, University of Chicago Law prof Brian Leiter writes in Two-thirds of "Rate My Professors" data that National Jurist used was inaccurate, magazine now admits:
And by "inaccurate," they mean only that the lists included non-law faculty or faculty who didn't teach at the school in question--they do not mean that the data itself actually reflects the opinon of law students about professors whose classes they really took. No one has any way of confirming that.
Let's add there is no way to determine if law profs gamed their own Rate My Professors rankings. Call me cyncial, but that possibility certainly is not beyond the realm of law prof ego-driven imagination. I'm thinking James Boyd White should have included a chapter on his theory of law as constitutive rhetoric by applying his critique to the culture of the legal academy with a study of published law prof-law school "Yippee!" in The Legal Imagination.
Leiter adds, "[National Jurist] still should withdraw the entire ranking, and hire some educational and statistical consultants to come up with a worthwhile metric." Perhaps National Jurist should just get out the law school rankings game completely. Will National Jurist publish another rankings next year? Wait 'n see.
Right now, however, it is time to gear up for this year's annual ritual known as US News Law School Rankings -- forthcoming in law prof blog posts near you, no doubt. Let's ditto that for law school PR fodder. [JH]
February 19, 2013
National Jurist's Law School Rankings Info Antics: On Verifying the "Accuracy" of Data When Data Sources Cannot Be Verified
We are now reviewing the RateMyProfessor data for all law schools with significant variances from the Princeton Review data, being careful to exclude non-law professors and former law professors. We expect to have this review done by Feb. 19. -- Jack Crittenden, Editor In Chief, National Jurist, Editor's comment on Best Law School ranking.
Although National Jurist is now actually reviewing the "accuracy" of the Rate My Professors data, the question is why didn't they do that before publishing the ranking? NJ says "we believe that the voice of students is essential." But that's not in dispute. The point is that Rate My Professors is not "the voice of students," and a magazine with any integrity, as opposed to an interest in generating hype, never would have utilized such an absurd source. (I'm not even sure what it means to check the accuracy of Rate My Professors data: anyone with Internet access on the planet earth can fill out a Rate My Professors survey, how could that be meaningful?) -- Chicago Law prof Brian Leiter, Brian Leiter's Law School Reports, National Jurist Now Back-Pedalling on its Thomas Cooleyesque Law School Rankings.
Stay tuned... . Today is Feb. 19th, isn't it?
The pot calling the kettle black. One purveyor of absurd rankings reports about the National Jurist kerfuffle. But you would be hard pressed to find him reporting on, let alone responding to, law prof criticisms of his own fatally flawed info antics spit out by the methodologically-challenged intellectual bankruptcy of being an info science amateur. See Info Antics, Not Metrics; When Counting Mickey Mouse Clicks Trump Content Analysis. [JH]
February 13, 2013
ABA Task Force Looks At Law School Reforms
The American Bar Association Task Force on the Future of Law Schools met over the weekend. Some news reports suggest that the task force is taking their charge seriously. ABC News quotes Task Force member Thomas W. Lyons III as saying "There is almost universal agreement that the current system is broken." The article further states:
Lyons, contacted by ABC News, spoke with candor and passion about the ills bedeviling legal education, which, he and other attorneys say, cloud the employment picture for new law school graduates and result in legal services priced high above what many Americans can afford to pay. Graduates, he notes, are entering practice lacking such basic skills as how to prepare routine legal documents.
This is nothing new, or at least nothing that hasn’t been in the public discourse for a while. The idea that a member of an ABA task force is saying the words may mean a bit more than hearing them from the New York Times. Some of the ideas include creating a limited-license category of practitioner (someone who can do some things like prepare documents and provide limited legal advice but not other tasks); changing the time required to take a law school program to qualify for a bar exam; and change the emphasis from theoretical to practical.
One group that came in for criticism is law faculty, who were characterized as highly paid while having little connection with practice. Oh, say it ain’t so. In fact, someone actually did. Here’s from the ABC article:
Professor Ngai Pindell takes strong exception to that characterization. Pindell is co-president of SALT , the Society of American Law Teachers, which represents law professors as well as other professionals in legal education.
Pindell, who is also associate dean of the law school at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, professes not to know what tenured law professors make, but says he suspects they are no more highly paid than dental school or medical school professors.
Really? A simple Google search on faculty salaries brings up a link to the Society’s newsletter which shows specific school detail on salaries. The median salary for law faculty at UNLV is $145,000 for example. The Chronicle of Higher Education has a broader academic salary survey that confirms how law is the highest paid academic discipline. The average salary for a law school full professor is reported at $134,162. Medical and dental faculty members are not listed, but full professors in health professions and related clinical sciences show an average salary of $95,437. Biological and biomedical science faculty salary averages at $92,505.
It’s an odd world from my perspective where practicing attorneys are brought in to a law school as nominally paid adjunct faculty to teach a skills class to law students. That only suggests the salary structure may be seriously out of whack given the current suggestions to reform law school. University presidents take note. I‘m looking forward to seeing where this goes. [MG]
National Jurist's Law School Rankings Fatally Flawed...
... by failing to include the "Hotness" score component from the Rate My Professors online rating site. Yes, that's right, the Rate My Professors metric was used by National Jurist to rank law schools.
In National Jurist in Competition to Displace Thomas Cooley Rankings as Biggest Joke in Legal Academia, Chicago Law prof Brian Leiter makes the following request: "If readers catch any law schools publicizing their National Jurist ranking, please let me know." (The list is growing at Leiter's post.) If readers spot any law school or tax prof re-crunching the numbers to include the "Hotness" score, please let me know. [JH]
February 11, 2013
The Latest From The LSAC
Here are the latest law school application figures from the Law School Admissions Council:
As of 02/01/13, there are 244,784 Fall 2013 applications submitted by 34,618 applicants. Applicants are down 20.4% and applications are down 22.7% from 2012.
Last year at this time, we had 64% of the preliminary final applicant count.
Cue the stories on the death of law schools. While we're on the subject, TR News & Insight reports that law firm hiring in 2012 was flat. In the meantime, Business Insider reports that law firm profits jump a "whopping" 4.3% last year, though that might not be sustainable as a trend. I don't know. Cutting people costs while sustaining the same level of operation may contribute to a healthier firm bottom line. Is that a sustainable trend? [MG]
February 08, 2013
A Top "Sweet 16" Ranking of Law School Rankings
"There are lots of law-related rankings out there. And many of them are law school-related rankings. But, with all apologies to Juvenal, quis iudices ipsos iudicabit? Why not me?" writes Derek Muller in Ranking the Rankings. And ranked #1:
1. Intentionally left blank. That’s right. The top slot goes to no ranking. Because I don’t think any of them deserve the top slot. Edgy.