New data suggests problems with law school critics views

Ben Barros at Widener has completed a short but very helpful paper examining the debate about employment of recent law school graduates.

Ben diligently tracked down the vast majority of Widener (Harrisburg) graduates from the 2010 and 2011 classes to see how they were doing now, not just 9 months after graduation. His results show significant improvement, particularly in the much discussed JD/Bar Passage Required category.

I think his study has several important implications:

1) It highlights the significance of macroeconomic factors in outcomes as opposed to problems with law schools per se. As the economy has improved so have job results. This is entirely consistent with the cycles of the past several decades.

2) He notes something of particular importance to California law schools: because of our relatively lower bar passage rate the traditional 9 month after graduate employment rate weighs heavily on the national ranking of California schools.

3) He points out that while many law school critics rely on BLS projections of a mismatch over the next decade between legal jobs and law school graduates, if one goes back a decade or so in the BLS data one finds that the Bureau significantly overestimated employment potential for future graduates. In other words, while critics use current pessimistic data from the BLS to bolster their case for law school austerity programs the same data likely helped contribute to the law school bubble a decade ago.

Reconsidering the Conventional Wisdom on the Legal Job Market by Benjamin Barros :: SSRN.