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Rose Colored Glasses By Joshua Nave If you ask your law school what percentage of graduating students are employed nine months after graduation, you might get a pleasant surprise. In an economic climate where firms are cutting back on new hires even as law schools graduate record numbers of students, the picture looks rosy. Unfortunately, that healthy glow is often the product of tinted glasses and not because demand for lawyers is increasing.

Law schools are required by the American Bar Association to accurately report the percentage of employed graduates but they don’t have to break down the numbers further. What is usually not included in their figures are things like the number of graduates with part time employment, jobs that don’t require JD’s, or students employed by the school as a way of boosting the numbers. That may change soon. The ABA requires schools to report generic employment numbers as part of their accreditation. According to this article in the National Law Journal, the accreditation committee is preparing to recommend greater transparency requirements. Much of this information is already collected by NALP, but the


ABA is considering requiring the schools themselves to collect and provide the information to prospective students when they receive their letters of acceptance. NALP, meanwhile, continues to call for the elimination of employment figures as a data point in law school rankings altogether. The proposal is aimed at managing expectations in light of increased law school enrollment and new law schools popping up in a time when demand for lawyers is down. If the ABA moves ahead with the plan it won’t happen until late 2011.

Rose Colored Glasses