Sunday, April 14, 2013

Underreporting the underemployment problem at top law schools

This article from The Atlantic posits that the underemployment problem among elite law schools, where graduates take jobs for which they are overqualified simply because they can't find ones better matched to their skills and credentials, is a larger issue than many realize.  According to the article, once you move outside the top 9 law schools, underemployment jumps to double digits. Move outside the top 15 law schools and underemployment jumps again to around 20 percent.

The Jobs Crisis at Our Best Law Schools Is Much, Much Worse Than You Think

The barren job market for law school grads has become a familiar reality by now. But here's something that tends to get lost in the story: The problem isn't just about no-name law schools churning out JD's nobody wants to hire. Even graduates at some of the country's top programs are struggling. 

At this point, it seems, there are only a small handful of schools that could reasonably be called safe bets.

The American Bar Association recently released its annual collection of jobs placement data from all 202 accredited law schools, and the big picture was, as expected, dreadful. Nine months after graduation, just 56 percent of the class of 2012 had found stable jobs in law -- meaning full-time, long-term employment in a position requiring bar passage, or a judicial clerkship, i.e. the sorts of jobs people go to law school for in the first place. The figure had improved just 1 percent compared to the class of 2011. 

Meanwhile, a full 27.7 percent were underemployed, meaning they were either in short-term or part-time jobs, jobless and hunting for work, or enrolled (read: burning cash) in another degree program. 

At some of the most prestigious law schools in the country, the numbers were only marginally better. Below, I've listed the top 25 programs in the U.S. News rankings, along with their underemployment score as calculated by Law School Transparency. Past the top 9, underemployment hits double digits. Outside of the top 15, it mostly hovers around 20 percent.

Continue reading here.


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