Sunday, August 14, 2011

News from the City of Brotherly Love

Here is an interesting piece from the Philadelphia Inquirer, reporting on Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and his request that the ABA do more to clarify their standards for insuring accurate employment and admissions data from law schools.

One thing I found interesting was a comment from Joanne A. Epps, the dean of Temple University Law School.  From the article:

"Temple Law School dean JoAnne A. Epps said she welcomed the additional scrutiny but added that much of the criticism was a result of inadvertent imprecision. She said law schools had been criticized for including graduates with nonlegal jobs in their employment data.
Four or five years ago, when every graduate could find a job as a lawyer, that wasn't a problem, she said, so no one thought to make the distinction. But now, with a smaller legal job market, more graduates are working outside law.
'I think it is perfectly appropriate for people to ask law schools to make sense of the statistics they report. That is a completely fair question,' Epps said."

I never thought I would agree with a law school dean on this blog, but I think Epps has a point.  In the past, the distinction between legal and non-legal employment within each category (private sector, public sector, academia) probably mattered much less than it does now.  But things changed and it is incumbent upon the law schools to change with the times and report data that gives an accurate picture of the job prospects of their graduates.   Hopefully Temple will change with the times and set a better example than its similarly ranked cross-town "rival."

While we are on the subject of Philadelphia and its ridiculously saturated legal market, here is an article (also from the Inquirer) which I missed a few days back.  The article claims that, based on a study, Philly area law schools outperform their competitors in terms of number of Big Law partners.  Choice quote:

"Philadelphia's strong legal market likely helps the region's schools usher alumni into law firms, Lennon said."

Is there anyone from the Philly area reading this blog willing to comment on the legal market in Philadelphia?  My impression is that to call it a strong legal market is a bit of an exaggeration.


  1. That's absolutely not true, even 4 or 5 years ago not everyone found a job as an attorney.

  2. The 4 or 5 years ago part was the part I found difficult to believe. I am willing to accept that this might have been the case a decade or so ago. But I was applying to law school 3 years ago and I know that there were a few people calling law school a scam even then. That could not have happened overnight.

  3. I graduated from law school in 1995, and even then there were people who couldn't find legal positions. To be fair, we were in a down job market at the time; the legal market had still not fully recovered from the recession of the early '90s. I've heard some of the legal job market stats from the past few years described as "the worst it's been since the mid 1990s", though it's undoubtedly worse for law grads now than it was in 1995.

    My sense is that law schools have been trending towards an oversupply of graduates since at least the 1980s. The severity of the problem has varied depending on the state of the economy and other factors (e.g., the rise and subsequent decline of document review positions). But all things being equal, the trend has been for the oversupply to get worse over time. The economic woes of the past few years have made the problem a lot worse, and have brought it to the doorstep of T14 grads who thought they were safe and would never have to worry about it. But for graduates of sub-T1 schools (even graduates of non-T14 T1s down towards the bottoms of their classes), things have been heading in this direction for years.

  4. I can only speak for my experience in the admissions office at Columbia, but my friends in the admissions offices at Georgetown Law and UT Law have concurred that the ONLY thing that counts is LSAT and GPA. The personal statement rarely, if ever, is factored into the admissions process. It is merely considered "paperwork­" and stapled to the back of the applicatio­n for some interestin­g reading.

    Another thing that most people don't realize is how law schools manipulate the data released to US News and World Report for the annual rankings. We would select a sampling of students, who we KNEW had jobs following graduation­....essent­ially cherry-pic­king the students with jobs so that our employment statistics after graduation would appear high. In addition, we would manipulate that data to include students with temporary jobs as contract attorneys, whether they be part-time or full-time. Ideally, one would think that we should have used the entire graduating class and simply give the percentage of those hired, considerin­g that is an easy number to calculate. Law schools, including Columbia, however, know how to meet these very arbitrary and easily manipulate­d U.S. News guidelines­. I urge any of you to get to know someone who has worked in the admissions office of any of these law schools. You will be quite surprised.

  5. I worked in the admissions office for Columbia University Law School. Roughly only 60% of the applicants that are accepted get in on their own merits by meeting the high LSAT/GPA requiremen­ts. 30% are placed within altogether different pool of people based on their IMPORTANCE to the law school. These are the people who are RICH, TYPICALLY WHITE, and/or well-conne­cted to someone important politicall­y or in government­. The admission'­s committee refers to them as SI's(speci­al interest candidates­). I remember one particular instance where one applicant'­s father called the dean of the law school and told him that he would be making a large donation next year to the law school provided his son was accepted. Guess what? The son was accepted and his LSAT and GPA were far below the guidelines for admission. The remaining 10% are referred to as KEO's(keep an eye on) and are made up of people who are on the cusp of meeting the LSAT/GPA standards, which often includes minorities­, but not always. If you are rich, influentia­l and well-conne­cted, then you have a 30% chance of getting past all of the people who got in on their own merits. I can assure you that EVERY SINGLE ONE of the people admitted while I worked there had been white and they would not have been admitted without the donations and influence of their parents, etc. THIS IS REALITY!! BTW..perso­nal statements are hardly ever read.

  6. Please everyone. You are being swindled. Think of all the stress, anger and financial worry that has marked each and every day of your existence while within law school and certainly since graduation. I know you have all gone through the numbers---those being the payment schedules for your loans, which could have you paying on them for the next 60 years!!! Your anger and your intelligence must be cultivated into an onslaught of karmic force against these academic hucksters, who have royally f**ked with the what could be the rest of your financial future. The deserve their come-uppence.

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