Friday, May 27, 2016

2015 Chicago-Area Law School Placement Data

Hi All!  I haven't posted for a while  - mostly because it seemed like other voices were pretty much saying everything that needed to be said!  (In fact, it has been so long that Google has completely changed the posting user interface, so this is kind of a learning experience!)

However, the 2015 law school employment data is coming out and I have started to get inquiries from young people thinking about going to law school as to whether I think it is a good idea to do so - and asking whether one law school is a better bet than another.  In that regard, one of the most important items to consider when thinking about law school is whether you will be able to get a job as a lawyer - and more specifically a full-time, non-short-term, JD-required job not created by the law school itself.

Overall, I note that legal employment remains bad and is actually getting worse in real number terms - but slightly better in percentage terms because fewer people are attending law school.  As mentioned in this article, the actual number of law school graduates in the class of 2015 declined by 8 percent - while the number of jobs only declined by about 7 percent, which means that on a percentage basis a slightly higher percentage of graduates found jobs, but in real numbers there were far fewer jobs overall.

The ABA's 2015 actual data is here - the table is a mess, but you are going to want to divide column B (EmployedBarPassageRequiredFTLT) by column AK (TotalGraduatesNumber) to get the percentage you are looking for.  Because I usually get questions from people deciding between Chicago-area-ish law schools, I wanted to focus your attention on the odds of actually getting a job as a lawyer after attending those schools.  Here are the stats:




CHICAGO, UNIVERSITY OF                                90.82%
MICHIGAN, UNIVERSITY OF                              85.03%
NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY                         81.25%
NOTRE DAME, UNIVERSITY OF                        73.74%
ILLINOIS, UNIVERSITY OF                                 65.19%
WISCONSIN, UNIVERSITY OF                            64.84%
INDIANA UNIVERSITY - BLOOMINGTON       64.65%
MARQUETTE UNIVERSITY                                 62.45%
WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY                              60.00%
NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY                 59.41%
INDIANA UNIVERSITY - INDIANAPOLIS        58.75%
SOUTHERN ILLINOIS U-CARBONDALE          56.57%
DEPAUL UNIVERSITY                                          54.86%
CHICAGO-KENT COLLEGE OF LAW-IIT          51.99%
LOYOLA UNIVERSITY-CHICAGO                     50.96%
JOHN MARSHALL LAW SCHOOL                      50.92%
MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY                        49.48%
VALPARAISO UNIVERSITY                                41.98%


Some comments:
1) My personal metric is that it does not make sense to attend a law school which has less than an 80% chance to land you a job as a lawyer. How big of a risk do you want to take with your future? Even if a law school is going to offer you a complete scholarship, it does no good to waste 3 years of your life obtaining a degree for which you can not find a job.  In this regard, I note that only a few law schools in the Chicago area make the grade - U of C, U of M, and Northwestern.

2)  One surprise was the performance of John Marshall relative to DePaul, Kent, and Loyola.  All of DePaul, Kent, and Loyola have a better reputation, but it is not translating into significantly increased job prospects. Additionally, DePaul has only a very slight placement advantage over the other two schools.

3) It is sad to see how far the U of Illinois has fallen.  If now offers pretty much the same placement as U of Indiana-Bloomington, which has a much lesser reputation.

4) Marquette has held pretty steady - and is at a significant advantage over Loyola and DePaul.  These schools seem to be admitting candidates at about the same quality, so consequently, if you are looking for a catholic- based law school among these three then look to Marquette.  Of course, if your scores are high enough and you can pay the extra $10K/year, then go to Notre Dame.

5) Another surprise - Wayne State and Northern Illinois have significantly better placement results than DePaul, Kent, and Loyola.  You would not expect that based on reputation.

6) Valpo - I have talked with at least two people in the past year that were being offered a full scholarship by Valpo, but my feel is that their placement statistics are so low it is not worth the three years of your working life.  Just to emphasize this again - on average, you will have to stop working by about age 63.  Most young people live in a blissful world where they will always be offered a job regardless of age and they will always be healthy enough to work - the statistics seem to indicate that they are mistaken.  If you blow 7.5% (3 years of 40) of your working life getting a degree you can't use, then that's going to be an issue.  I will probably talk about this more in a future post because young people don't seem to be easily able to grasp this reality.

What do you think?  Were you surprised by any statistics in the list?  Any recommendations for potential law students?


5 comments:

  1. Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance KingMay 28, 2016 at 8:21 PM

    There are 97,000 attorneys in Illinois. Lets put that into perspective. There are approximately 91,000 people working in or at new car dealerships in Illinois. Nearly every adult in Illinois owns a car or two and will purchase several throughout their life times. All of those cars will need servicing from time to time. How many times does the average law abiding adult require the services of an attorney? Not much and for not much money either. A house closing is 4 bills? A simple will is a few more bills? Not a sustainable way to earn a middle class living anymore given our numbers.

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  2. But the "law professors" claim that the Boomers will retire en masse. What a joke!

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  3. Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance KingMay 29, 2016 at 10:53 PM

    Many older Boomers do not value the so called "work-life balance" and are fixated on income and a perceived "getting ahead" or are just scared. They grew up in homes scarred by the Depression or are first generation Americans, children of immigrants who struggled and worked to the bone. Those children (Boomers) attended City Colleges and then got accepted to John Marshall. They have a different perspective. They will never quit practicing no matter how much wealth they have amassed. When there is attrition from life cycle Boomer turnover, those jobs are ELIMINATED. That is especially true of the government.

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  4. These stats undoubtedly get worse as each class of lawyers ages. With the numbers of licensed lawyers vs. degree holders they must go down by at least 50% for older classes and maybe even 75%. Very poor chance of working in a full time permanent position as a lawyer when a person hits say age 55.

    Even for the big 3 law schools in the midwest, you have a lot of people not getting entry level jobs as lawyers.

    In a US allopathic med school, you have about a 96% chance of getting a residency. Most residents in most areas get plentiful job offers and can keep a doctor job until they want to retire or their health requires them to retire.

    It does not make any sense to go to Northwestern, or Michigan and take the gamble if you can get into an allopathic med school.

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  5. I just noticed your blog. Please keep blogging! The law school blogosphere needs your perspective as OLs still have no idea about personal finance and the impact of ridiculous levels of law school debt on the rest of their lives!

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