Stranger's Guide to Reading Law School Employment Reports

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Stranger's Guide to Reading Law School Employment Reports

Post by Stranger » Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:38 pm

Repeat after me: the purpose of going to law school is to become a lawyer.

With that in mind, it stands to reason that we want to choose schools based on our professional goals and their ability to help us reach them. Thankfully, there has been a movement over the last decade to pressure law schools into releasing standardized, useful information about the employment outcomes of their graduates. That information can be a bit overwhelming, so we're going to take a look at how to read the two most common employment reports: the ABA report and the NALP report.

If what you want is a summary of biglaw numbers or PI careers, check out Nebby's two stickied threads. But if you want to dig in to the fine details, read on! None of this is a great mystery, and I wouldn't have even thought that this information might be useful in a guide if I hadn't received a PM asking about where to find it. But if one person asks me in PM, someone else either doesn't know to ask the questions yet or doesn't know who to ask, and might benefit from having it all in one place.

Also, if you want more nuanced information on how to distinguish the *quality* of biglaw jobs, and why you should be aiming higher than just any old firm with market pay, see a great analysis by SmokeytheBear here: viewtopic.php?f=17&t=1839 And UVA2B has a guide to two great resources on law firms, the NALP directory and Chambers & Partners, here: viewtopic.php?f=17&t=2096 This latter can help you find out what firms are in your target market and what kind of work they do.

ABA Reports

Law School Transparency has a wealth of information on law schools, including their ABA employment reports, at https://www.lstreports.com/schools/ Just select the school you want to view, click on "Jobs" then "ABA Charts". This will let you view several years of employment data for the school. The other pages contain some additional useful information, much of it in easy-to-read form, which we will explore in the second post in this thread.


Spoiler:
Up top, we have a breakdown of work into various types, both by how much it depends on being a lawyer and how substantial the work itself is. The very first number you see, in the square for long-term, full-time jobs requiring bar passage, tells you how many graduates in the year in question really embarked on a career as a lawyer. Those in shorter term or part-time positions may yet make it, but lack a bit of the security of their FTLT peers, who have a reasonable shot at beginning to pay off those student loans.

Going down the list, we have a category known as "JD Advantage", which is a bit more loosely defined, but generally means a job where the employer wanted someone with a law degree, and indicated ad much, but wasn't as concerned with them practicing. These can still be pretty desirable jobs, but they probably weren't the reason you applied to law school.

Professional and Non-Profesional should be fairly self-explanatory, and are generally jobs that have little or nothing to do with your law degree. But hey, at least they're work.

School Funded jobs require a bit of historical context. Law schools used to beef up their employment numbers by hiring a portion of their own graduates for the first year after graduation. This was considered deceptive, and as such, the ABA now requires these positions to be reported separately.

Down below, we get a total for employees in each of the term/time groupings, as well as an overall total. This is followed by various categories of unemployed students. The only one of these that shouldn't make you nervous is Pursuing Graduate Degree FT. Below, we get totals for the unemployed and for all graduates in the class. This is the number you should be using as your denominator when you calculate percentages in various employment outcomes.

Next, we get a breakdown of school funded jobs along the same lines we saw for all jobs. The more they fall into that first box, the better, though these still likely aren't jobs that you really dreamed of before starting.
Now, we reach the meat of the report, a breakdown of jobs by the category of the employer.


Spoiler:
The first nine are various sizes of law firm, beginning with solo practice. This should probably scare you - hanging a shingle before you gain experience is likely to be tremendously difficult and not very rewarding. As we go down the list, we approach the categories collectively known as biglaw. There is a fairly strong consensus that this term includes the three largest groups, though there are a few who set the bar even higher. The chart in Nebby's employment thread uses the consensus definition.

After this, we get Business & Industry, which indicates work as an employee of the private entity. It includes legal temp work, in-house counsel, management, consulting, etc.

Next come the public service fields, Government and Public Interest. Government includes all work for a local, state, or federal government (excluding clerking), while Public Interest work is done for a not-for-profit entity. Public defenders are split between the two groups based on the employer. There's a lot more information about these types of work in Nebby's Public Interest thread.

Then we find the three clerkship categories. Most clerkships are either federal or state/local. The "other" category can include positions with foreign courts. In these jobs, a clerk works directly for a judge, who typically acts as a mentor, and will likely be a valuable connection for your future career. The job usually lasts for a fixed term. Federal clerkships are highly sought after, and are often grouped together with biglaw in reporting a school's employment numbers, as they usually draw from the same pool of students, and federal clerks often land biglaw as their next job with a hefty bonus for having clerked. Biglaw plus federal clerkship placement tends to correlate strongly with prestige - the top thirteen schools tend to place over 60% of their graduates into these categories, while even the next two highest placing schools don't tend to top 50% in a typical year. Even at these top schools, however, clerkships typically go to those near the top of the class, and aren't something you can bank on landing (by default, it's worth assuming that you're going to be a median student, though there's nothing wrong with maximizing your chances as long as you're otherwise making a choice that can help you reach your goals if you miss out on that stretch).

Finally, we have Education. This includes teaching and administrative positions, faculty, librarians, research fellows, and clinical staff attorneys. It doesn't tend to represent a large portion of any school's reported graduates.

After a recap of the unemployed graduate types, we get a table showing the law school's top three states for the year. You can tell something about how regional a school is based on where it places graduates (though schools in NY or CA placing a large percentage in their home state is hardly an indicator of regional limitation, as these are already the two largest legal markets). More helpfully, you can see if a school places where you want to work. If your heart is set on Ohio, and a school shows a high number of graduates working there year after year, it's probably realistic to aim for Ohio from that school. The chart should also list internationally employed graduates, and does on the forms if you pull them from a school's website. I'm not sure why LST has stripped this data.

The great thing about this data on LST is that you get several years of it for each school. You can track trends and averages, and recognize if a number that sounds too good to be true is just a fluke.

Now, this report has its limitations. A rural public defender and DOJ Honors look precisely the same. So do shitlaw and boutiques. Clerking for the Virginia Supreme Court and the local magistrate in Wytheville get lumped together. You can only really discern broad patterns from it, but there is still useful far in the patterns for evaluating the quality and character of a school. And thankfully, it's not the only tool available to us.
NALP Reports

They also have some NALP data at https://www.lawschooltransparency.com/r ... -Database/ Not all schools make this information public, and even among the ones that do, they don't necessarily publish every year in full. This may mean that you have more information about one school you are considering than you do about another, but this whole process is an exercise in making the best decision you can with incomplete information.
Spoiler:
The first page of an NALP report is largely going to be redacted. This is partially for the privacy of graduates (you shouldn't be able to discern from this sort of published information what an individual graduate is earning, for instance, so a minimum of five graduates in a category is required to provide salary breakdowns), and partly because there seems to be a resistance to publishing salary information along race and gender breakdowns. This is, however, a good chance to establish the general format of these charts. The first column will provide the number reporting within a given category, the second will give the percentage of the larger pool that this category represents, and the third will provide the number within the category who reported a salary. The closer the third number is to the first, the more representative the salary data that follows will be. The next four columns are the 25th percentile, median, 75th percentile, and mean salaries for the category. On the first page, the only salary data you're likely to find is for the Bar Passage Required and JD Advantage group.

The second page, however, is much more useful. It begins with a summary of all those reporting as employed, which might give you a feel for the bimodal salary distribution. The following charts then break down employment and salaries for public vs. private sector, full-time vs. part-time along the bar passage/JD advantage/etc. categories, and finally, a breakdown along business/clerkship/private practice/government/public interest lines. This last grouping can give you a realistic idea of what different classes of legal work pay starting lawyers.

The next two pages break down these classes along bar passage/JD advantage/professional lines, save for the clerkships, which are broken down by federal, state/local, and other groups. Private practice is also broken down by firm size. This chart is particularly revealing as to why folks are so interested in biglaw -- the larger categories trend towards "market" rates (in the largest legal markets, $180K/year starting as of the class of 2016), while the smaller firms trend towards salaries in line with other, less prestigious legal work.

The fifth page provides some location information, breaking down jobs by region, and by in-state/out-of-state. To find the largest legal markets, keep in mind that New York is in the Mid-Atlantic, DC is in the South Atlantic, Chicago is in the East North Central, Texas is in the West South Central, and California in the Pacific region. International jobs are also listed, as Non US Locations. Given the regional placement of law schools, it is rare to see much employment outside of the school's home region and those larger markets. There is a finer breakdown of state placement later in the report, and even of market placement within the school's home state, though those charts do not show income breakdowns the way this does. This is the final chart in the report to include that information.

On the sixth page, we get breakdowns of how students found jobs, when they were offered their jobs, and whether they are seeking other work. Some of the major highlights to look for on the job source table are Fall OCI (the traditional on-campus interview process where firms tend to hire SAs), job fairs/consortia and postings in the CSO (both of which give some indication of how much help the CSO might be), the clerkship process/Oscar and referrals (both of which can indicate the strength of the school's network), and self-initiated/letter (which can give you an indication of how hard you may need to hustle for your job offer). The numbers for these won't give you gospel truth on how much help you might get from your school and its network, but they can at least hint at it. You'll also get some relevant information from the offer timing chart. It basically divides offers into those made before graduation, those made between graduation and bar passage, and those made only after the graduate has passed the bar. Earlier offers are preferable, obviously, but many government organizations don't make offers until after bar passage. [Folks who aren't 0Ls, if you have information to correct this paragraph, I'm entirely open to it. My analysis is kinda uninformed as someone who hasn't been through OCI yet, and I know it.]

The seventh page is basically information already present in the ABA forms about school-funded positions and short term employment, but the eighth page breaks down the sixth page's information by job type. This can help you determine which methods you want to pursue for the jobs that interest you.

The following page or two features some of my favorite information in the NALP report: the state-by-state employment breakdown. For states other than the largest markets and the home state of the school, it pays to look at as many years of NALP reports as are available, as an outlier from a trend of approximately four placements per year could easily be deceptively high or low. After that, in-state jobs are broken down by location in an additional table.

The final chart is again information already present in the ABA forms about full-time vs. part-time employment.
While the NALP form isn't as compact as the ABA form, it does provide a wealth of additional information, and is well worth examining when possible. The salary and source/timing information in particular can help guide an applicant or student in their pursuit of a satisfying legal career.
Last edited by Stranger on Sat May 05, 2018 9:17 am, edited 14 times in total.

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Re: Stranger's Guide to Reading Law School Employment Reports

Post by Stranger » Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:38 pm

Useful Information on LST School Reports

When you first pull up a school on Law School Transparency, a number of quick blocks of information appear across the top of the page.


Spoiler:
On the left, you can see a green box with an Employment Score. This is calculated by subtracting part time, short term, and solo practitioners from all Bar Passage Required jobs and dividing that by all graduates for the year. The chart shows six years running, as does the red one for Under-Employment next to it. Under-Employment is calculated by adding up Unemployed graduates who are seeking work, those with short-term or part-time employment, those in non-professional positions, those pursuing a graduate degree full-time, and those in school-funded jobs, then dividing by the number of graduates.

Moving along, the purple box features the bar passage rate for the most recent class of graduates, the 25th percentile, median, and 75th percentile LSAT scores of that class at enrollment, and the percentage of that class who failed out as 1Ls. This gives something of an impression of how likely an enrolled student is to fail to become a lawyer. The bronze box on the right lays out the typical costs of attendance, as well as the percentage of students who paid full price, the rate of increase in tuition, and the percentage of students receiving median or greater tuition discounts, as long as the median amount of those discounts.

Down below, the large chart tracks changes in 1L enrollment over the course of the past eight years. If this track is stable, it can increase the reliability of employment data. Outlier years for enrollment/graduation can cause anomalous employment data (like the tiny first year at UC Irvine producing massive clerkship numbers). To the right, we have a rough synopsis of the most recent year's employment outcomes. Percentages of the class are given for Biglaw, small firms, Federal Clerkships, and public service (combining government and PI work), as well as for a couple of the school's largest employment markets.
Clicking on the "Jobs" section, we get a much greater wealth of detail.


Spoiler:
The Key Facts section at the top gives a breakdown of overall employment for graduates from the law school, starting with the total number of graduates and a note on how many graduates from the most recent class were transfers. The three percentages listed, then, give the number of students employed in full-time, long-term legal jobs (AKA careers as lawyers), then the overall number employed long-term, then overall number employed full-time. Finally, the box lists the number of students in the most recent class enrolled, compared to the initial enrollment of the most recent graduating class we have employment stats for. The graph on the right shows the trend of initial class size.

The ring graph breaks down the permanence of employment in the graduating class, with the most prominently labeled sections representing long-term, full-time work and school-funded jobs. The school-funded segment probably bears individual research, as there's a big difference between a PI fellowship out of Yale and getting paid to stick around helping with a professor's research at State U while you look for a real job. Unfortunately, there's no way to summarize this distinction neatly with the available data.

The bar graph breaks down graduating classes into three groups -- long-term/full-time bar-passage required jobs (careers as lawyers), long-term/full-time JD advantage or professional jobs (careers), and all other graduates (presumably, the under-employed and unemployed). The chart shows this in raw numbers, with the percentage listed for careers as lawyers, but also provides percentages for all three categories if you mouse over a bar.

The two graphs to the right show two of the most popular sectors of work, Large Firms (101+ attorneys) and Public Service, broken down by year, for the past five years of graduates.


The Credentials graph lets you switch between a breakdown of total jobs by professional category (Bar Passage Required, JD Advantage, etc.), including School Funded, and the breakdown of how solid (PT/FT, ST/LT, etc.) the jobs within that category are by clicking on the bar for a given category. Some of the data is often incomplete, resulting in "All Other Graduates" as a category on the graph. It's a great presentation of the data, and easily digestible.



This next chart isn't interactive, but presents a visual breakdown of the employment sector categories from the ABA reports. Yale is a bit of an unusual chart, but it does give an impression of how the chart is laid out.



This final section looks like it would be useful if it were linked to the current data, but right now, seems to be defaulting to "Unknown". It does, however, provide links to the category definitions from the NALP. Fortunately, the fine folks at LST have a good example for us:
KyleMcEntee wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 10:45 pm
This section depends on the school publishing its NALP report. For example, check out MSU's: https://www.lstreports.com/schools/msu/jobs/ Yale doesn't publish the report, hence call of the unknown data.
This shows the breakdown between types of jobs in the industry categories. The breakdown within firm jobs is especially useful - seeing how many graduates are actually working as lawyers, as opposed to clerks and paralegals, can be quite informative about the school's outcomes.

[More to come later.]
Last edited by Stranger on Fri May 04, 2018 12:18 pm, edited 10 times in total.

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Re: Stranger's Guide to Reading Law School Employment Reports

Post by Platopus » Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:47 pm

Very valuable resource. Thank you!

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Re: Stranger's Guide to Reading Law School Employment Reports

Post by UVA2B » Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:48 pm

I’ve stickied, and I have a ton to add on the topic, but this is fantastic!

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Re: Stranger's Guide to Reading Law School Employment Reports

Post by Stranger » Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:54 pm

UVA2B wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:48 pm
I’ve stickied, and I have a ton to add on the topic, but this is fantastic!
Thank you. I think when I have a screen bigger than my phone, I'll be cleaning up some of that repetitive phrasing. Not my highest quality prose, but unlike some law school forums, we have an edit button here.

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Re: Stranger's Guide to Reading Law School Employment Reports

Post by sartorial splendor » Fri Mar 23, 2018 10:33 am

Any thoughts on latest employment numbers being released before seat deposits are due?
I keep hearing mid April, but last year was early May.

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Re: Stranger's Guide to Reading Law School Employment Reports

Post by Stranger » Fri Mar 23, 2018 11:13 am

sartorial splendor wrote:
Fri Mar 23, 2018 10:33 am
Any thoughts on latest employment numbers being released before seat deposits are due?
I keep hearing mid April, but last year was early May.
I don't have that to hand, and quick Google search didn't reveal it. I'll ask Spivey.

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Re: Stranger's Guide to Reading Law School Employment Reports

Post by sartorial splendor » Fri Mar 23, 2018 11:29 am

Thank you. Just hoping for status quo with no surprises.

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Re: Stranger's Guide to Reading Law School Employment Reports

Post by UVA2B » Fri Mar 23, 2018 1:04 pm

sartorial splendor wrote:
Fri Mar 23, 2018 11:29 am
Thank you. Just hoping for status quo with no surprises.
You're probably starting to overthink how much value is in a single year of employment data for a given school. Just because a single year of data being slightly above or below historical placement has much more to do with the current state of the economy and health of the various regional economies you're looking at. For instance, Vandy and WUSTL had pretty solid years last year in biglaw placement, but that doesn't mean that they have the placement power of the more nationally placing schools like Michigan, even though Michigan placed <10% more grads in those kinds of jobs.

Your decision on which school to attend should not be based on a single year of data, whether surprisingly good or surprisingly bad. That's why Stranger's approach in another thread of using a weighted five year average is a more accurate approach to various school's placement power.

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Re: Stranger's Guide to Reading Law School Employment Reports

Post by Stranger » Fri Mar 23, 2018 1:17 pm

UVA2B wrote:
Fri Mar 23, 2018 1:04 pm
sartorial splendor wrote:
Fri Mar 23, 2018 11:29 am
Thank you. Just hoping for status quo with no surprises.
You're probably starting to overthink how much value is in a single year of employment data for a given school. Just because a single year of data being slightly above or below historical placement has much more to do with the current state of the economy and health of the various regional economies you're looking at. For instance, Vandy and WUSTL had pretty solid years last year in biglaw placement, but that doesn't mean that they have the placement power of the more nationally placing schools like Michigan, even though Michigan placed <10% more grads in those kinds of jobs.

Your decision on which school to attend should not be based on a single year of data, whether surprisingly good or surprisingly bad. That's why Stranger's approach in another thread of using a weighted five year average is a more accurate approach to various school's placement power.
The caveat I would place on this would be if a school's report confirmed the prior year's outlier number, particularly in the face of or in excess of national trends. Then I would take the new data much more seriously (but so would the weighted average, as the two heaviest years would now be in agreement - I weighted in that thread at 40%/25%/15%/10%/10%, and still like this metric).

A single year could be a fluke. Two looks like a trend. Five is character.

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Re: Stranger's Guide to Reading Law School Employment Reports

Post by sartorial splendor » Fri Mar 23, 2018 5:04 pm

Agreed. I noticed the Vandy bump and was wondering if it was just a good year or a harbinger.
Also curious to see if ND improves or slides back. I'm torn between the two for a multitude of reasons.
As I didn't place too much emphasis on ND's rise to 20 last year or there slide to 24 this year I will also
be taking employment with the same grain of salt.

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Re: Stranger's Guide to Reading Law School Employment Reports

Post by KyleMcEntee » Thu May 03, 2018 10:45 pm

This is great! I hadn't seen this until now. Thanks for doing this.

One note: "This final section looks like it would be useful if it were coded to the current data correctly, but right now, seems to be defaulting to "Unknown". It does, however, provide links to the category definitions from the NALP."

This section depends on the school publishing its NALP report. For example, check out MSU's: https://www.lstreports.com/schools/msu/jobs/ Yale doesn't publish the report, hence call of the unknown data.

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Re: Stranger's Guide to Reading Law School Employment Reports

Post by Stranger » Thu May 03, 2018 11:51 pm

KyleMcEntee wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 10:45 pm
This is great! I hadn't seen this until now. Thanks for doing this.

One note: "This final section looks like it would be useful if it were coded to the current data correctly, but right now, seems to be defaulting to "Unknown". It does, however, provide links to the category definitions from the NALP."

This section depends on the school publishing its NALP report. For example, check out MSU's: https://www.lstreports.com/schools/msu/jobs/ Yale doesn't publish the report, hence call of the unknown data.
First off, I'm glad you like it, and seriously appreciate the wealth of information LST has made available to us. Finding your site was a great help as I began thinking about how to choose a law school. I'm hoping this guide helps folks realize the data is out there, and get started reading and evaluating it for themselves (hopefully at a high enough level to make informed choices about law school).

I'll edit that section in the morning. Do you mind if I quote your post in the OP? I hadn't realized the data for that section was exclusively from the NALP, but it makes sense now that you've pointed it out. Thank you for clarifying that!

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Re: Stranger's Guide to Reading Law School Employment Reports

Post by KyleMcEntee » Fri May 04, 2018 11:14 am

Quote away! Or just take the words as your own. A quote might make the formatting overly wonky.

Also, I would say that the site in general needs more guidance throughout. We launched the new version as a MVP in November 2016 (I think that's the right year) because it was good enough to release. To date, I haven't made any material improvements that I wanted. I think readers would really benefit from more integrated help on the site.

So if there are any volunteers that want to assess the site and propose specific changes to improve comprehension, it'd be great.

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Re: Stranger's Guide to Reading Law School Employment Reports

Post by Alexlee01 » Fri Oct 05, 2018 3:39 am

Stranger wrote:
Wed Mar 21, 2018 9:38 pm
Repeat after me: the purpose of going to law school is to become a lawyer.

With that in mind, it stands to reason that we want to choose schools based on our professional goals and their ability to help us reach them. Thankfully, there has been a movement over the last decade to pressure law schools into releasing standardized, useful information about the employment outcomes of their graduates. That information can be a bit overwhelming, so we're going to take a look at how to read the two most common employment reports: the ABA report and the NALP report.

If what you want is a summary of biglaw numbers or PI careers, check out Nebby's two stickied threads. But if you want to dig in to the fine details, read on! None of this is a great mystery, and I wouldn't have even thought that this information might be useful in a guide if I hadn't received a PM asking about where to find it. But if one person asks me in PM, someone else either doesn't know to ask the questions yet or doesn't know who to ask, and might benefit from having it all in one place.

Also, if you want more nuanced information on how to distinguish the *quality* of biglaw jobs, and why you should be aiming higher than just any old firm with market pay, see a great analysis by SmokeytheBear here: viewtopic.php?f=17&t=1839 And UVA2B has a guide to two great resources on law firms, the NALP directory and Chambers & Partners, here: viewtopic.php?f=17&t=2096 This latter can help you find out what firms are in your target market and what kind of work they do.

ABA Reports

Law School Transparency has a wealth of information on law schools, including their ABA employment reports, at https://www.lstreports.com/schools/ Just select the school you want to view, click on "Jobs" then "ABA Charts". This will let you view several years of employment data for the school. The other pages contain some additional useful information, much of it in easy-to-read form, which we will explore in the second post in this thread.


Spoiler:
Up top, we have a breakdown of work into various types, both by how much it depends on being a lawyer and how substantial the work itself is. The very first number you see, in the square for long-term, full-time jobs requiring bar passage, tells you how many graduates in the year in question really embarked on a career as a lawyer. Those in shorter term or part-time positions may yet make it, but lack a bit of the security of their FTLT peers, who have a reasonable shot at beginning to pay off those student loans.

Going down the list, we have a category known as "JD Advantage", which is a bit more loosely defined, but generally means a job where the employer wanted someone with a law degree, and indicated ad much, but wasn't as concerned with them practicing. These can still be pretty desirable jobs, but they probably weren't the reason you applied to law school.

Professional and Non-Profesional should be fairly self-explanatory, and are generally jobs that have little or nothing to do with your law degree. But hey, at least they're work.

School Funded jobs require a bit of historical context. Law schools used to beef up their employment numbers by hiring a portion of their own graduates for the first year after graduation. This was considered deceptive, and as such, the ABA now requires these positions to be reported separately.

Down below, we get a total for employees in each of the term/time groupings, as well as an overall total. This is followed by various categories of unemployed students. The only one of these that shouldn't make you nervous is Pursuing Graduate Degree FT. Below, we get totals for the unemployed and for all graduates in the class. This is the number you should be using as your denominator when you calculate percentages in various employment outcomes.

Next, we get a breakdown of school funded jobs along the same lines we saw for all jobs. The more they fall into that first box, the better, though these still likely aren't jobs that you really dreamed of before starting.
Now, we reach the meat of the report, a breakdown of jobs by the category of the employer.


Spoiler:
The first nine are various sizes of law firm, beginning with solo practice. This should probably scare you - hanging a shingle before you gain experience is likely to be tremendously difficult and not very rewarding. As we go down the list, we approach the categories collectively known as biglaw. There is a fairly strong consensus that this term includes the three largest groups, though there are a few who set the bar even higher. The chart in Nebby's employment thread uses the consensus definition.

After this, we get Business & Industry, which indicates work as an employee of the private entity. It includes legal temp work, in-house counsel, management, consulting, etc.

Next come the public service fields, Government and Public Interest. Government includes all work for a local, state, or federal government (excluding clerking), while Public Interest work is done for a not-for-profit entity. Public defenders are split between the two groups based on the employer. There's a lot more information about these types of work in Nebby's Public Interest thread.

Then we find the three clerkship categories. Most clerkships are either federal or state/local. The "other" category can include positions with foreign courts. In these jobs, a clerk works directly for a judge, who typically acts as a mentor, and will likely be a valuable connection for your future career. The job usually lasts for a fixed term. Federal clerkships are highly sought after, and are often grouped together with biglaw in reporting a school's employment numbers, as they usually draw from the same pool of students, and federal clerks often land biglaw as their next job with a hefty bonus for having clerked. Biglaw plus federal clerkship placement tends to correlate strongly with prestige - the top thirteen schools tend to place over 60% of their graduates into these categories, while even the next two highest placing schools don't tend to top 50% in a typical year. Even at these top schools, however, clerkships typically go to those near the top of the class, and aren't something you can bank on landing (by default, it's worth assuming that you're going to be a median student, though there's nothing wrong with maximizing your chances as long as you're otherwise making a choice that can help you reach your goals if you miss out on that stretch).

Finally, we have Education. This includes teaching and administrative positions, faculty, librarians, research fellows, and clinical staff attorneys. It doesn't tend to represent a large portion of any school's reported graduates.

After a recap of the unemployed graduate types, we get a table showing the law school's top three states for the year. You can tell something about how regional a school is based on where it places graduates (though schools in NY or CA placing a large percentage in their home state is hardly an indicator of regional limitation, as these are already the two largest legal markets). More helpfully, you can see if a school places where you want to work. If your heart is set on Ohio, and a school shows a high number of graduates working there year after year, it's probably realistic to aim for Ohio from that school. The chart should also list internationally employed graduates, and does on the forms if you pull them from a school's website. I'm not sure why LST has stripped this data.

The great thing about this data on LST is that you get several years of it for each school. You can track trends and averages, and recognize if a number that sounds too good to be true is just a fluke.

Now, this report has its limitations. A rural public defender and DOJ Honors look precisely the same. So do shitlaw and boutiques. Clerking for the Virginia Supreme Court and the local magistrate in Wytheville get lumped together. You can only really discern broad patterns from it, but there is still useful far in the patterns for evaluating the quality and character of a school. And thankfully, it's not the only tool available to us.
NALP Reports

They also have some NALP data at https://www.lawschooltransparency.com/r ... -Database/ Not all schools make this information public, and even among the ones that do, they don't necessarily publish every year in full. This may mean that you have more information about one school you are considering than you do about another, but this whole process is an exercise in making the best decision you can with incomplete information.
Spoiler:
The first page of an NALP report is largely going to be redacted. This is partially for the privacy of graduates (you shouldn't be able to discern from this sort of published information what an individual graduate is earning, for instance, so a minimum of five graduates in a category is required to provide salary breakdowns), and partly because there seems to be a resistance to publishing salary information along race and gender breakdowns. This is, however, a good chance to establish the general format of these charts. The first column will provide the number reporting within a given category, the second will give the percentage of the larger pool that this category represents, and the third will provide the number within the category who reported a salary. The closer the third number is to the first, the more representative the salary data that follows will be. The next four columns are the 25th percentile, median, 75th percentile, and mean salaries for the category. On the first page, the only salary data you're likely to find is for the Bar Passage Required and JD Advantage group.

The second page, however, is much more useful. It begins with a summary of all those reporting as employed, which might give you a feel for the bimodal salary distribution. The following charts then break down employment and salaries for public vs. private sector, full-time vs. part-time along the bar passage/JD advantage/etc. categories, and finally, a breakdown along business/clerkship/private practice/government/public interest lines. This last grouping can give you a realistic idea of what different classes of legal work pay starting lawyers.

The next two pages break down these classes along bar passage/JD advantage/professional lines, save for the clerkships, which are broken down by federal, state/local, and other groups. Private practice is also broken down by firm size. This chart is particularly revealing as to why folks are so interested in biglaw -- the larger categories trend towards "market" rates (in the largest legal markets, $180K/year starting as of the class of 2016), while the smaller firms trend towards salaries in line with other, less prestigious legal work.

The fifth page provides some location information, breaking down jobs by region, and by in-state/out-of-state. To find the largest legal markets, keep in mind that New York is in the Mid-Atlantic, DC is in the South Atlantic, Chicago is in the East North Central, Texas is in the West South Central, and California in the Pacific region. International jobs are also listed, as Non US Locations. Given the regional placement of law schools, it is rare to see much employment outside of the school's home region and those larger markets. There is a finer breakdown of state placement later in the report, and even of market placement within the school's home state, though those charts do not show income breakdowns the way this does. This is the final chart in the report to include that information.

On the sixth page, we get breakdowns of how students found jobs, when they were offered their jobs, and whether they are seeking other work. Some of the major highlights to look for on the job source table are Fall OCI (the traditional on-campus interview process where firms tend to hire SAs), job fairs/consortia and postings in the CSO (both of which give some indication of how much help the CSO might be), the clerkship process/Oscar and referrals (both of which can indicate the strength of the school's network), and self-initiated/letter (which can give you an indication of how hard you may need to hustle for your job offer). The numbers for these won't give you gospel truth on how much help you might get from your school and its network, but they can at least hint at it. You'll also get some relevant information from the offer timing chart. It basically divides offers into those made before graduation, those made between graduation and bar passage, and those made only after the graduate has passed the bar. Earlier offers are preferable, obviously, but many government organizations don't make offers until after bar passage. [Folks who aren't 0Ls, if you have information to correct this paragraph, I'm entirely open to it. My analysis is kinda uninformed as someone who hasn't been through OCI yet, and I know it.]

The seventh page is basically information already present in the ABA forms about school-funded positions and short term employment, but the eighth page breaks down the sixth page's information by job type. This can help you determine which methods you want to pursue for the jobs that interest you.

The following page or two features some of my favorite information in the NALP report: the state-by-state employment breakdown. For states other than the largest markets and the home state of the school, it pays to look at as many years of NALP reports as are available, as an outlier from a trend of approximately four placements per year could easily be deceptively high or low. After that, in-state jobs are broken down by location in an additional table.

The final chart is again information already present in the ABA forms about full-time vs. part-time employment.
While the NALP form isn't as compact as the ABA form, it does provide a wealth of additional information, and is well worth examining when possible. The salary and source/timing information in particular can help guide an applicant or student in their pursuit of a satisfying legal career.


Really great reports. Impress with your lots of works

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