There has been a great deal written about the jobs numbers published by law schools, and although I will refer to the topic from time to time I won’t be rehashing what many others have said much more eloquently and knowledgeably than I ever could. One of the better series of articles I’ve read on the subject is by Jason Dolin referring to his survey of public law schools in the state of Ohio (I truly wish he’d do a nationwide survey). Article 1, Article 2. They are long articles, but probably the most honest look at law schools and the problems with them. Dolin does suffer from a slight credibility problem in that he teaches as an adjunct at Capital University Law School, a 4th tier JD-mill. But so long as you can look beyond this bit of professional hypocrisy, the articles are very good.
Anyway, the reason I bring up his articles is twofold. The first was his ultimate look at job statistics for law students. There is a rather accepted percentage that after 10 years, only 50% of attorneys are still working in law; which on the surface seems somewhat low for a profession you spend so much time and money to achieve. But as Dolin mentions, the numbers tell a much more horrifying truth. As it turns out, pretty much right out the door from law school only about 50% of graduates find jobs in law… ever. It isn’t an attrition rate of half over 10 years; it is an immediate result.
To fake the jobs numbers, my law school did something that many others do as well. They offer fellowships. As I approached graduation, my law school sent around a short flyer to all 3rd years offering what seemed to be free money to participate in a fellowship funded by the law school. For a short commitment of time (about a month), the law school would pay us approximately enough to cover our costs volunteering somewhere. The insidious side of this is that the law school can then claim that you had paid employment out of law school. That’s right… they hired you to go work for a month, and now they can put down on their job statistics that 99% of all their graduates were gainfully employed within the year after leaving law school. Its the way they got rid of those pesky jobless graduates from their bottom line. Those lucky few who were leaving with a job offer wouldn’t need the fellowship, and those who had nothing would jump at it for the money since they had nothing else going on.