You can see the number of graduates per school at NLJ 250 firms, both total and as a percentage of the class, as well as the school's tuition. A very useful resource for prospective students, I would think.
UPDATE: Peter Tosirisuk, a law student at Stanford, kindly sent alone these useful charts he made with the NLJ data:
Mr. Grover is a law graduate of the University of Nebraska, one of those law schools that students should still be considering, even in the current market, and notwithstanding Mr. Grover. But it is odd that he thinks that being a lawyer and a philosopher involves a contraction, rather than an expansion, of knowledge and competence. In any case, I replied to Mr. Grover as follows:
Dear Mr. Grover,
Are you actually an attorney at the firm in question? If so, why do you not appear on the website? Do your supervisors know that you are using the firm’s e-mail to send impertinent and juvenile messages to other professionals?
“Thinking like a lawyer” refers to a style of reasoning and analysis that is exemplified in the law section of appellate briefs and in judicial opinions; I assume you must be familiar with both genres. It encompasses, for example, the use of analogical reasoning to distinguish precedents or propose extensions or developments of existing doctrine, but also involves techniques of statutory and constitutional construction, the use of arguments from authority, facility with the law/fact distinctions, and so on. Again, merely looking at the chapter headings of Schauer’s book Thinking Like a Lawyer would illuminate this apparently opaque topic for you. Alternatively, you might read Edward Levi’s classic book An Introduction to Legal Reasoning; Mr. Levi was the former Dean of my Law School, as well as former Attorney General of the United States.
Of course, there are more skills involved in being a lawyer than thinking like a lawyer. There is industry-specific knowledge, know-how with respect to how local courts or regulatory agencies approach statutory language, rhetorical talent, as well as a range of psychological and interpersonal skills that are important. For example, most good lawyers I know, among my family and friends, exhibit maturity and professional judgment, that would prevent them from sending insolent e-mails from their’s firm account to other professionals. I will be sure to send a copy of this entire correspondence to the name partners of your firm.*
I do think we law professors, and especially those with blogs, have been far too tolerant of malicious and unprofessional conduct by usually anonymous or pseudonymous lawyers and students. Mr. Grover deserves credit for signing his name to his stupidity, and, of course, his intervention is a relatively mild example of juvenile nonsense emanating from putative lawyers. I've generally let most of this garbage pass in silence, but in the coming weeks I'm going to be posting a bit more about some alleged legal professionals whose on-line conduct deserves to be aired in public. I especially welcome more information on a sick individual using the pseudonym "dybbuk," who is, among other pathetic characteristics, obsessed with the appearance of female law faculty, and who fantasizes on-line about spanking them with wet slippers (though that is only the tip of the iceberg of his malevolent conduct towards and harassment of individuals behind the cloak of pseudonymity). He is a Washington & Lee law graduate from the 1990s, and an appellate public defender, and we will have more to say about him soon. But I welcome any further details from readers.
[*I did not, needless to say, send this correspondence to them. I hope Mr. Grover has a distinguished legal career, and that he, and others like him out there, will stop sending foolish e-mails in the future.]
UPDATE: Some good news, namely, dybbuk's most egregious piece of libel and harassment (not of me) has been removed from the web. Meanwhile, the poster boy for the Dunning-Kruger Effect, David Bernstein, thinks this is all about civility and manners as opposed to stupidity and insolence--and, more seriously, in the case of some of the others, libel and malicious harassment. I'm sure Bernstein will do a great job moderating comments on his intervention to insure his commitment to civility! For my own views on civility, see this short essay.
3/5 UPDATE FOR THE VARIOUS VISITORS FROM RIGHT-WING CRAZY BLOGS: You will enjoy my book!
MARCH 8 UPDATE: It wont' surprise any readers to learn that Paul Campos is angry with me--after all, his malicious and dishonest conduct has made him a pariah in his own profession. I certainly did my part to call attention to his malfeasance, but I underestimated the extent to which he would turn into a pathological liar in order to seek his vengeance. Over the last week (I have been abroad at a conference, with only intermittent internet access and so may not even have seen everything), Campos has completely lost it, descending into an amazing paranoid abyss of libel, accusing me, falsely, of, inter alia, cyber-stalking, posting pseudonymously on "Top Law Schools," even posting "hundreds" (!) of comments on his absurd blog (while the others may just be reckless false allegations, the last one he has to know is false, since he has access to the ISP information), and so on. He has not, at least of this writing, accused me of genocide or torturing puppies. And he has apparently inspired one of his followers to hack someone`s email account. Classy! Apart from his general animosity towards me, I can only surmise that he's lost it because I did pursue the identity, successfully, of one of his cyber-friends ("dybbuk") who Campos conveniently neglects to mention had the habit of bullying, insulting and defaming junior faculty and students (including one of mine), and I did succeed in getting his worst bit of libel deleted and he has now fallen silent. Oddly, Campos, who is now waging a jihad against Faculty Lounge, doesn't realize why no one will return his e-mails, and it's the same reason almost no one signed his petition for law school transparency: his colleagues consider him a creep and untrustworthy, and so they just steer clear. Indeed, "dybbuk's" identity was volunteered by different people Campos pissed all over during his little scam jihad, so, ironically, he has only himself to blame for the mess his cyber-friend is currently in.
AND A FINAL WORD: Crazy Campos’s jihad against Dan Filler has come to an end, not with Campos apologizing, but with his continuing to cast aspersions on Filler and others at TFL, even though, as I noted last Friday, he’s been barking up the wrong tree all along (he apparently has little sense of the depth and breadth of enmity towards him and his crew, and it extends well beyond those who blog--I will, in any case, not name my sources, who did the morally correct thing in exposing scoundrels and creeps, but who do not deserve to be harassed and defamed by those who want to harass and defame with impunity). There also turns out to be quite a bit of backstory about what’s been going on at Colorado, that will perhaps come out in time, and which may explain Campos’s slightly insane and obsessive behavior in the last week. Anyway, I’ll give the final word about this freak show to a colleague elsewhere, who wrote to me last week regarding the pseudonymous and anonymous trolls: “I, for one, hope that you put the fear of god into them. I've been unable to avoid the consistent spamming our normal blogs have taken over the last year from the likes of these schmoes ('MacK' and the others main perpetrators), one can only hope that they're cowering in a corner thinking back on the foolishness of repeatedly attempting to defame and intimidate honest and well-meaning educators. It's one of the worst symptoms of the right-wing anti-intellectualism that seems to get frothier in this country each election cycle. As for our friend in the rocky mountain state, I really think he's either run into some well-deserved, serious career problem (other than lacking all talent as a scholar) or has gone wholly round the bend.” As some readers pointed out, even Campos's many false allegations may have the salutary effect of making the bottom-feeders in cyberspace (including Campos's dozen-or-so trolls) a bit more cautious going forward.
I would encourage you to write a blogpost aimed at some misinformation that media stories about the law school value proposition are purveying to the most qualified potential law school applicants. The perverse thing is that the largest percentage application decline has been among the strongest applicants (by GPA/LSAT). For students of at least the top X law schools (and I've done no science to identify the "X", but I suspect it's at least "10") employment opportunities remain strong, and given recent law firm hiring patterns, advancement opportunities for this generation of law firm associates should be very positive. The question for those students should be, as always, do you want to be a lawyer, and, second, do you value the education that LS can offer for other things you might want to do.
I appreciate that a general message of caution for law school applicants is wise, but I think people should also get advice relevant to their situation.
These are sensible points, and they do extend beyond "the top X." Many state law schools are still reasonably priced, and have had, over the long haul, good professional outcomes for their graduates. Many regional law schools, private and public, have strong market niches and, due to the competition for students, are discounting sticker price substantially. Prospective students should, indeed, "get advice relevant to their situation," and that advice will mostly not be found on blogs or chat rooms, alas.
It's here, with not many surprises (though UC Irvine is in the top 20--this was their first class of graduates, who were recruited with full rides). Bear in mind that this only counts graduates who take jobs at the 250 largest law firms, and thus excludes those graduates who go into clerkships, PhD programs, government service, or elite litigation boutiques.
That's the theme emphasized in this Times report on the ABA task force on legal education meeting in Dallas. On the table are sensible ideas--making it possible to get a two-year law degree, and creating a legal analogue of "nurse practitioner"--but one hopes that the would-be regulators bear in mind that the most important thing they can do is de-regulate or relax regulations on many fronts, so as to permit more experimentation with models of legal education at differential prices. Many of the current problems result from a "one size fits all" model of regulation of law schools, as well as a "one size fits all" assessment of law schools by U.S. News. The ABA isn't well-equipped, and never has been, to police the particulars of legal pedagogy. Employers "vote" with their employment decisions and on that basis, it is quite clear that the most selective employers still vote for the "Yale" or "Chicago" or "Stanford" model of legal education (whatever exactly those are, but they clearly combine commitment to research along with teaching, extensive clinical opportunities, and a total commitment to interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching). Certainly those schools have been modifying their own curricula and faculty in response to changes in the legal profession and to feedback from lawyers and judges over the past decade, and that will continue with or without the ABA. But rather than top-down edicts that apply across the board--which is what the ABA has always done--it would do well to move in the opposite direction, to see what different approaches might also work.
Of course, no changes in legal education can help the tens of thousands of graduates saddled with debt and a dismal job market over the last half-dozen years in particular, and it would be good not to lose sight of the fact that any "drastic" changes in ABA regulation of law schools still leaves unaddressed the debt crisis that afflicts students in all parts of higher education. But the ABA is not without its own political muscle, and one thing it might also do is use some of that muscle to put debt relief, including bankruptcy reform, on the table at the national level.
ADDENDUM: The article does include one dangerous innuendo, namely, that somehow the current difficulties in the job market and the current need for more differentiation in models of legal education can somehow be laid at the doorstep of "tenured" faculty. In fact, the lack of differentiation in models of legal education can be laid at only one doorstep, that of the ABA, and the dismal economy might be blamed on a variety of parties, from the deregulation of banking that began in the Clinton era, to miscreants on Wall Street. Tenure remains an important feature of all serious academic institutions, and it would be a travesty were the current "crisis" mentality to undermine it. That being said, and as we have written before, tenure has never meant lifetime employment, and the ABA, in consultation with AAUP lawyers, might think about drafting post-tenure review standards for law schools, to deal with the sometimes egregious abuse of tenure at many law schools.