For those not already following Michael Simkovic's posts at Leiter's Law Reports, I suggest you do so if you are at all interested in the question of how we should measure law school outcomes. I realize that there are a subset of people who will simply never give any credence to labor economics methods. I, for one, have found it helpful to see how we can use data to make decisions, and depending on the decisions we might need to make, the data might differ.
For example, do we want to use data to compare law schools to each other, or against the next best outcome? Here, I think that Simkovic and McIntyre have the upper hand. I have yet to see a rebuttal that uses solid evidence to refute their data or their methods. It's true that they've got some uncertainty after the end date of their data, but employment numbers seem to be going up, not down. Our Full-Time bar pass/JD Advantage jumped 14% this year, and 90% of our grads had some job 10 months out. While the jury is technically out, Simkovic points to other data in his blog posts that imply that the gap between law school and college hasn't changed after the end point of their last data. I've seen many intuitive attacks, but Simkovic parries each one with data. I, for one, favor that approach. And when there is contrary data, I'll be interested in seeing that.
But I also think there is a fairness/consumer protection part of the story that Simkovic doesn't handle as well, in my opinion, and maybe that's why some folks continue to criticize. More specifically, when we are comparing between law schools, there's something to be said about presenting the data in a way that fairly describes employment outcomes. It's fundamentally unfair to allow one school to game the system against all others, and it's even worse to allow all the schools to game the data. And it's unfair to students, because they can't fairly judge between law schools.
Thus, I think there should be room for both worlds, and I think the shrillness of the debate is just missing this. We should be judging law schools on lifetime outcomes, as the evidence is pretty clear that law graduates do better than college graduates of any discipline. But we should also consider accurate (and precise) initial outcomes because a) people tend to more highly value stuff that happens sooner rather than later, b) initial outcomes can affect final career trajectory and thus we should try to maximize options even if not everyone can do what they dreamed of, and c) there is an important market regulation function of short term data.