ABA Journal: Forbes Will Rank Law Schools Based on Job Results, Northwestern Reveals
TaxProf Blog alluded to new law school rankings by Forbes in an Aug. 19 post, saying the magazine reportedly will rank schools for their “return on investment.” The Northwestern letter, published on the Law School Transparency website, confirms the Forbes survey and says the magazine is seeking information similar to that requested by the transparency group.
Law School Transparency sent a letter to 199 law schools this July seeking data about each law school graduate in categories that include their employer type and name, whether their position is full- or part-time, whether the job requires a law license, and their salaries after nine months. The group asked for a response by Sept. 10.
I’m a little more than $140,000 in debt from my four years spent attending the night program at Rutgers School of Law in tropical Camden, New Jersey. I try not to think about it, especially after setting into bed at night, lest I drive myself absolutely crazy wondering about whether my schooling was a prudent investment or disgustingly stupid gamble.
Only time will tell, I’m afraid, but more and more I see people I went to school with or others who graduated from other institutions at the same time I did, and I see them floundering. Some are gaining great experience in clerkships at various levels, others are doing whatever they were doing while they were in school, and yet others have become completely discouraged by the job market altogether and have either gone back to school for an L.L.M., gone back to live with their parents or, in the case of one of my friends, gone to the military recruiter’s office and inquired about getting their rifle company back and heading to Afghanistan.
It sucks out there, folks. I’m fortunate to have found a job, and while it ain’t quite lawyerin’ money I find myself making each week, I’m learning enough to certainly make it worthwhile.
So, I’m all for measuring law schools on job results, but getting it done right is going to be difficult. To be accurate, a fair number of former students must weigh in, and those students must be a fair microcosm of each graduating class. I would imagine that some unemployed J.D. sitting at home in his undershorts while eating string cheese and watching Judge Judy would be more likely to return the survey than, say, the pinstriped young go-getter working 85-hour weeks at a big corporate litigation firm downtown somewhere. One has an axe to grind, the other doesn’t have time to even breathe nonetheless return a survey.
Certainly, measuring quality based upon actual real world results–provided that it’s done right–is preferable than measuring quality based upon the same nebulous, reputation-driven, empirically lacking criteria that brought us The Smartest President in the World.
Bottom line, though: I’m pretty certain that I’m not alone in feeling that, good education notwithstanding, the entire law school industry is more about printing degrees and accepting tens of thousands of dollars than it is about ensuring results and doing right by the profession. Then again, I might be a little cynical, and certainly not representative of the rest of the cheese-eating, unemployed, undershorted law-trained population.