US News & World Report’s Deeply Misleading Law School Employment Statistics

Paul Campos writes for Lawyers Guns & Money from which this post was taken.

I don’t know if there’s much point in continuing to harp on this, but US News just published another ludicrous law school “ranking,” in a story entitled Ten Law Degrees With the Biggest Return on Investment.

The publication calculated this by determining “the 10 schools whose students leave with the least amount of debt relative to their first-year salaries in the private sector.”

One of those ten schools was Rutgers-Newark, which made the list because according to the magazine the “median private sector starting salary” for its 2011 graduates was $117,500.

A little digging into the school’s NALP data (note that until about a year ago it would have been impossible to check US News’s claim, since prior to the pressure created by the law school transparency movement only a handful of schools made their NALP numbers available) reveals that this “$117,500″ figure is the median salary among the 44 (out of 248) 2011 graduates who got private sector jobs and had reported salaries. In other words, the $117,500 or higher number represents the salary of approximately 9% of the graduating class (This is further confirmed by the fact that only 16 graduates got jobs with larger law firms).

The real median starting salary for the class was, at most, $43,437. Note that graduates who were completely unemployed nine months after graduation outnumbered those making the “median” (sic) salary $117,500 or more.

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