That's what I wondered when I read the last Wall Street Journal Law Blog post on law schools. In Law School Job Data Shows Wide Gulf Between Elite and the Rest, Jacob Gershman and Joe Palazzolo make two choices that somewhat undermine the value of the post. First, their primary focus was on total employment rate - the one that includes every job, from Skadden to Starbucks. Second, and arguably more problematically, they selected the U.S. News Top 50 as a relevant category to help define "elite" schools. Thus we get a paragraph like this:
About 5% of class of 2013 graduates from a top 50 school were still looking for work in February, about nine months after spring 2013 graduation. Meanwhile, 14% of graduates of schools below the top 50 were searching for a job.
There is a wide gulf between the "elite" law schools and the rest. But most of the US News Top 50 are not in that elite group. The post notes that roughly 75% of graduates from US News Top 50 schools snagged long-term, full-time, JD required jobs. But if you exclude law school funded jobs, only 15 schools placed 75% of their grads in those jobs.
In fact, 17 of the US News Top 50 - or over a third of that cohort - were not among the top 50 schools for placement in that category. So not only did only 15 of the US News Top 50 place at the level the article describes as "average" for the Top 50, but a third of them actually placed fewer than 63.3% of their grads in long-term, full-time, JD-required, market-provided positions.
None of this is news for our readers, and I'm frustrated that it would be for the WSJ Law Blog. Maybe its just the nature of news reporting today. Reminds me of the New York Times' recent report about the five law schools that have shut down in the last two years.
Update 5/6/14: Joe Palazzolo correctly points out that his article did not expressly discuss total employment rates, but rather focused on the "unemployed" number. He now adds that when he referred to "unemployed", he meant "unemployed-seeking." First off, those are two very different categories - several schools seem to have suprising numbers of graduates who have no interest in a job. It would be worth the WSJ clarifying that point. In any case, I see the "unemployed seeking" number as a primarily a proxy for total employment rate - though to be fully accurate, a law school may have some number of students who are categorized as "employment status unknown", "unemployed-not seeking", "unemployed-start date deferred", or "pursuing graduate degree". All that said, he is right in that I was imprecise when saying that their "primary focus was on total employment rate."