Do state bar licensing authorities distrust law schools?

It’s late July, so it’s time for another round of op-eds and blog posts about the bar exam—it doesn’t test the things that are required of legal practice, the cut score is unjustifiably high, it’s a costly and burdensome process for law students, etc.

Granted, these arguments have may varying degrees of truth, but, as any reader of this blog is no doubt familiar, I am pretty skeptical of these claims—and I say that as one who, as a law professor, in my own self-interest, would subjectively like to see an easier bar exam for law school graduates. But graduates have had persistently low scores for coming up on half a decade, mostly attributable to the decline in admissions practices at many law schools. And I think we too quickly conflate a lot of arguments about the bar exam.

But I’ve long had an uncomfortable thought about the bar exam as I’ve read the claims of legal educators (often law school deans) over the last several years. Law schools complain that their students have invested three years of their lives, plus tuition, plus the effort to pass the bar exam, and many fail—only, of course, to retake at still more invested time and cost before ultimately passing (or maybe never passing). Isn’t it unfair to these graduates?

Maybe, of course, depending on the “right” cut score in a jurisdiction. But… what about the opposite perspective? That is, are law schools graduating students who are not qualified to engage in the practice of law?

That’s a very cold question to ask. The ABA’s (new, slightly higher) standard for accrediting law schools is that at least 75% of its graduates should pass the bar exam within two years—it’s long had an outcome-oriented element to accrediting law schools. So the ABA admits that law schools can graduate a significant cohort who are never able to pass the bar.

Now, getting 100% first-time bar passage rate is pretty challenging—there are usually at least a couple of students at even the most elite law schools in even the biggest boom-times of legal education who’d fail the bar exam on the first attempt, for lack of effort or personal circumstances even if not for lack of ability.

But nevertheless, why do state bar licensing authorities—which also have a role in the accreditation of schools in the state (even if they mostly outsource it to the ABA)—require graduates of in-state law schools to take the bar exam? Does it reflect a distrust of those in-state law schools?

There’s only one state now with “diploma privilege,” Wisconsin. That is, graduates of law schools at the University of Wisconsin or Marquette University are automatically admitted to the bar. Many more states had diploma privilege several decades ago, but those have gradually been replaced until just Wisconsin remains.

Some complain about Wisconsin’s diploma privilege in the vein of, “Does it seem like Wisconsin’s law schools are really teaching sufficiently Wisconsin-centric law to preclude the need to take the bar exam?” But I think that mistakes what may be a driving force in these discussions (and the barrier that’s happened in jurisdictions considering reinstating diploma privilege).

In short, the bar exam is essentially a licensing authority’s way of verifying that the law schools are graduating qualified practitioners of law. Yes, the bar exam may be an imperfect way of doing it. But given that the bar exam highly correlates with law school grade point average, one can’t say it’s particularly irrelevant (unless law professors make the same claim about law school grades!).

Now imagine you’re the bar licensing authority in Wisconsin. You look at what’s happening at Wisconsin and at Marquette. And you’re satisfied—these two schools admit a good batch of students each year; their academic dismissal and transfer acceptance rules are sound; they graduate qualified students each year. Yes, maybe a few would fail the bar exam in Wisconsin each year—but we know there can be some randomness, or some cost of retaking for candidates who’ll ultimately pass, and the like. But the licensing authority trusts the law schools in the state. The law schools are consistently graduating students who, on the whole, are capable of practicing law in the state.

That’s a really good relationship between the state bar licensing authority and the law schools in the state, no?

So… what does that tell us about the other 49 states and the District of Columbia? (Although Alaska doesn’t have a law school….)

It may tell us that state bar licensing authorities do not have the same faith in these in-state law schools. That is, they believe law schools are not consistently graduating students capable of practicing law in the state. And that’s a cold truth for law schools to consider.

Of course, state bar licensing authorities may also have idiosyncratic reasons for preserving the bar exam (e.g., “We took the bar, so kids these days have to take the bar!”). And it might also be the case that many law schools or bar licensing authorities haven’t seriously considered trying to reinstate diploma privilege.

But I wonder about three persuasive reasons—which should cover the ideological spectrum!—for law schools in a few jurisdictions to consider pressing for diploma privilege. I look at the upper Midwest, the Great Plains, and northern New England in particular.

First, it encourages greater diversity in the legal profession. These arguments are consistently raised in California among other places—law schools are simply more diverse than the legal profession as a whole (due largely in recent years to changes in demographics), and reducing a barrier to the bar would immediately lift the diversity of the legal profession. (It would also encourage increased residence in state of those graduates, as the third point below indicates.)

Second, it reduces state regulatory occupational licensing authority burdens. We’ve seen a small revolution in states from Arizona to Pennsylvania to try to reduce the amount of occupational licensing burdens, from reducing the kinds of positions that need licensing to allowing interstate recognition of occupational licenses. Allowing a reduction in the burdens of occupational licensing would be consistent with that trend—even if it’s of a long-regulated profession like law.

Third, in these jurisdictions I named, states can offer a competitive advantage against other states where demographics favor more rapid population growth. Declining birth rates, aging populations, migration patterns, whatever it may be—there is simply less growth in the upper Midwest, Great Plains, and northern New England than other areas of the country. By offering in-state graduates the guarantee of bar admission, there is a greater incentive for these younger attorneys to stay in the state and practice locally rather than migrate elsewhere.

I also mention these jurisdictions because many have just one or two law schools, similar to Wisconsin, and therefore relatively easy for the schools to act together (or as one institution!) to meet the standards that would satisfy the state bar licensing authority.

The tradeoff for law schools? All the law schools in the state have to admit and graduate students who consistently appear able to pass the bar exam and practice law—a particularly high first-time pass rate and a near-100% ultimate pass rate.

As law schools for a few years have reduced admissions standards to preserve revenue, this is a particularly challenging prospect. State bar licensing authorities often appear increasingly distrustful of law school behavior, just as law schools often appear increasingly distrustful of state bar licensing authority behavior.

But developing a local community of trust between the state bar and in-state law schools could redound to significant benefits for all parties in short order. Whether that claim can be made persuasively, and whether law schools could alter their behavior in the short term for a potential long-term improvement of both their graduates’ positions and their state bar’s position, remains to be seen.

Significant one-year peer USNWR survey score drops, their apparent causes, and their longevity

The peer score from USNWR’s annual law school rankings consists of the results of a survey it sends out to around 800 voters. Those voters are the dean, the associate dean for academics, the chair of the hiring committee, and the most recently tenured faculty member at each law school. Response rates tend to be fairly high, usually around 70%. Voters are asked to evaluate schools on a scale of 1 (marginal) to 5 (outstanding), or N/A if a voter doesn’t have enough information. Those results are averaged into each school’s “peer score.”

These results have been remarkably stagnant for decades for most schools. [###]

Of course, I can only guess as to why there were these drops, but, for most schools, we have pretty good contemporaneous evidence of (negative) newsworthy events that likely prompted the drop.

(Please note, I use the year the ranking is published. USNWR calls the rankings published in 2019 as the “2020 rankings,” but I use the date 2019 instead. The survey is sent out in the fall of the year before, so a survey for 2019 is sent out around November 1, 2018.)

Rutgers-Camden, 2002, 2.8 to 2.5. This may be the only truly fluctuation due (mis)fortune or chance. In the three previous surveys, Rutgers-Camden had a 2.7, 2.6, and 2.6 score. In 2001, it rose to 2.8. In 2002, it dropped to 2.5, where it remained in the 2.5 to 2.6 range for the next decade, settling later at 2.4.

There’s no particular scandal or controversy that arose. Instead, the 2.8 just might’ve been the fortune of one year, and the following 2.5 the misfortune of another. (Rutgers-Camden later merged with Rutgers-Newark.)

Loyola Law School, 2009, 2.6 to 2.3. By far the most inexplicable drop turned out to be attributable to a USNWR error. Loyola had long held a 2.5 to 2.6 peer score in the decade before 2009. But in 2009, its peer score abruptly plummeted 0.3 to 2.3. The reason? USNWR renamed Loyola as “Loyola Marymount University” in the poll. While long affiliated with LMU, the law school’s brand had developed around a different name, which suddenly changed for one year.

The following year, Loyola’s name returned “Loyola Law School,” its peer score rebounded to 2.6, and it’s remained around there ever since. (It’s also the only time a school has risen 0.3, or higher, in a single year in the entire history of USNWR’s peer surveys.)

Illinois, 2012, 3.5 to 3.1. Illinois consistently held a peer score for 3.4 to 3.6 for a decade. In 2011, a story broke that an admissions dean single-handedly inflated median LSAT scores at Illinois in six of the previous 10 years. Illinois was fined $250,000 and censured. In the 2012 rankings, Illinois’s peer score plunged from 3.5 to 3.1.

The Illinois drop was significant because of how high Illinois used to be. And it’s significant because it makes it that much harder to climb back. Illinois rose to a 3.3 one year but hasn’t gotten past that, at 3.2 in the most recent survey. The residual impact from an event a decade ago remains (in my view, an unjustifiable result).

Villanova, 2012, 2.6 to 2.2. For a decade, Villanova’s scores hovered between 2.5 and 2.7. But in a different scandal in 2011, the news broke that Villanova “knowingly” reported inaccurate LSAT & UGPA data. It was censured by the ABA.

Villanova has mostly recovered, steadily rising back to a 2.5, but it has yet to return to 2.6. Like Illinois, the impact in the peer score has far outlasted any formal ABA sanction.

St. Louis University, 2013, 2.4 to 2.0. One of the more notorious drops in peer score arose after a series of controversies—the law school dean resigned in protest in August 2012, with noted disputes about university leadership prominent that fall. It’s one of just 3 times that a school has dropped 0.4 in the peer score, assuredly in part because the news remained fresh close in time to circulation of the survey.

St. Louis has never returned to a 2.4, but it has slowly improved since the drop and has stood at a 2.3 for the last few surveys.

Albany, 2015, 2.0 to 1.7. For years, Albany had held a 2.1 or 2.2 peer score. In 2013, that score settled to a 2.0 and remained there in 2014. That isn’t remarkable, because [scores lower]. But in 2015, the score dropped 0.3 to 1.7. In early 2014, the school made headlines for buyout proposals amidst financial exigency and faculty backlash. These were some of the first public signs of financial strain at U.S. law schools after the economic downturn—recall that enrollment jumped for the Class of 2012 dropped ever since. While many schools felt financial strains, few made it public—today, of course, many more have had their financial struggles made public.

The impact didn’t last long. By 2016 the school returned to a 1.9, and in 2017 a 2.0 again, which is its score this year, too.

Vermont Law School, 2.2 to 1.9, 2019. The most recent drop took place in the most recent rankings. In the summer of 2018, Vermont announced that 14 of its 19 tenured professors would lose tenure, an announcement just a few months before ballots went out. Time will tell what happens next year, but we should expect a small bounce back up.


This post isn’t really to shame any particular school or approve of how the peer rankings have reacted to scandals. It’s simply to note that some strong reactions do exist.

It also highlights the stickiness of the rankings. The cohort of voters can change fairly frequently. Voters include the dean, the associate dean of academics, the chair of faculty appointments, and the most recently tenured faculty member. Those positions change with some frequency—the typical dean’s tenure is 3 years, new faculty hires mean a steady stream of tenure grants, different appointment chairs as service commitments rotate, and so on. Nevertheless, the peer score remains tough to move. Smaller controversies, a USNWR mistake, or apparent randomness appear to have little staying power. But bigger scandals have prevented scores from ever returning to where they were before the scandal—even if the school has faced appropriate sanction and all the people involved have moved on. Whether it’s inertia or long punitive (and vindictive?) memories, the peer scores can remain depressed.

Importantly, I hope some law professors might reconsider why they may be voting the way they are. Are they voting because of the present state of the law school—its student body quality, its student outcomes, its faculty quality, its administrators, etc.—or because of some past act of the law school? By reflecting on why voters vote the way they do, we may see less (arguably) punitive voting.

Law school median and mean debt loads, 2015-2017

The Department of Education has been releasing more disclosures to the public concerning higher education. Its most recent data disclosures include preliminary student loan debt loads over a two-year period, 2015-2017.

One useful piece of information is the median debt loads of students who incurred debt. USNWR discloses schools’ self-reported mean debt loads, although those figures are sometimes less than helpful due to school disclosure irregularities. But the mean may distort what a typical student’s loans look like, if a large batch of students borrow just a few dollars to cover perhaps the end of law school. That could artificially lower the mean, whereas the median law student may have much higher debt loads. (It could also work the other way.)

The Department of Education tables include both median and mean debt loads. Granted, this data, while better than the self-reported USNWR data, still has its share of flaws. I looked up every “law” program—many reported the degrees differently, usually “Doctoral Degree” or “First Professional Degree,” but I removed every self-described “Master’s Degree” program. I sorts the schools by median debt load. Included are the school types (public, private, and “proprietary” i.e., for-profit). Also included are the “count” of individuals in the two-year cohort (and you can view more about how the “count” and other terms are defined). The count includes those who completed the program in that time period. (Some were listed as “Privacy Suppressed,” which I converted to “n/a.”) Recall, too, that these are only those who incurred debt; a good number of students graduate each year without incurring law schools. (For a sense of those figures, check out the latest USNWR disclosures. Many schools report that at least 20% of their graduates, sometimes more, incur no debt.)

I’ll start with the top 20 schools in median debt.

Law School School Type Count Median Debt
Florida Coastal School Of Law Proprietary 476 $198,655
Whittier College Private 237 $196,008
Thomas Jefferson School Of Law Private 337 $195,892
University Of San Francisco Private n/a $195,820
Southwestern Law School Private 540 $193,653
Charlotte School Of Law Proprietary n/a $188,985
Arizona Summit Law School Proprietary 272 $188,191
New York University Private 570 $183,857
Atlanta's John Marshall Law School Proprietary 287 $177,854
American University (The) Private 588 $177,157
Barry University Private 365 $168,309
New York Law School Private 414 $167,078
Golden Gate University Private 166 $166,264
Columbia University Private 513 $165,314
Georgetown University Private 937 $163,688
George Washington University Private 804 $163,300
Thomas M. Cooley Law School Private 641 $161,986
Pepperdine University Private n/a $161,300
Nova Southeastern University Private 133 $161,219
Santa Clara University Private 231 $160,558

Four for-profit schools are in the top 20. The remainder are in California (7), New York (3), the DC area (3), and Florida (2), along with Thomas M. Cooley Law School. (It’s also worth noting that Whittier, Charlotte, and Arizona Summit have announced their closures.)

Now for the bottom 20 schools, the ones with the lowest median debt among those who incurred debt:

Law School School Type Count Median Debt
Texas Tech University Public 185 $70,006
University Of Kentucky Public 194 $69,860
Temple University Public 308 $69,583
Georgia State University Public 293 $69,200
University Of Connecticut Public 214 $69,085
University Of Alabama Public 174 $68,992
Wayne State University Public 175 $67,640
University Of Kansas Public 170 $66,415
Mitchell Hamline School Of Law Private 409 $64,429
University Of Mississippi Public 167 $64,300
University Of Iowa Public 167 $62,249
University Of Arkansas Public 178 $61,500
University Of North Dakota Public 90 $61,500
University Of Tennessee Public 191 $61,500
University Of Wisconsin - Madison Public 263 $61,500
Taft University System (The) Proprietary 27 $61,500
Indiana Institute Of Technology Private 26 $59,650
University Of Nebraska Public 159 $59,124
Brigham Young University Private n/a $51,250
Santa Barbara And Ventura Colleges Of Law Private 36 $20,500

Unsurprisingly, most are public schools, many in lower cost-of-living locations. But near the bottom of the list are a pair of non-ABA-accredited law schools in California (Taft, and Santa Barbara and Ventura Colleges of Law), with relatively (in one case, quite) low reported debt loads. At the bottom of the list among ABA-accredited schools is the private BYU, at just $51,250 median debt load.

The entire table is below the jump. Additionally, I included the same table with the mean debt, too. Of course, recall that any data like this, particularly “preliminary,” may have inaccuracies, and some of the coding may mean that I’m inadvertently including or excluding certain institutions.

UPDATE: At least one school was incorrectly reported as “private” when it is “public.” I have made that change.


Law School School Type Count Median Debt
Florida Coastal School Of Law Proprietary 476 $198,655
Whittier College Private 237 $196,008
Thomas Jefferson School Of Law Private 337 $195,892
University Of San Francisco Private n/a $195,820
Southwestern Law School Private 540 $193,653
Charlotte School Of Law Proprietary n/a $188,985
Arizona Summit Law School Proprietary 272 $188,191
New York University Private 570 $183,857
Atlanta's John Marshall Law School Proprietary 287 $177,854
American University (The) Private 588 $177,157
Barry University Private 365 $168,309
New York Law School Private 414 $167,078
Golden Gate University Private 166 $166,264
Columbia University Private 513 $165,314
Georgetown University Private 937 $163,688
George Washington University Private 804 $163,300
Thomas M. Cooley Law School Private 641 $161,986
Pepperdine University Private n/a $161,300
Nova Southeastern University Private 133 $161,219
Santa Clara University Private 231 $160,558
Elon University Private 77 $160,285
University Of The Pacific Private 244 $158,437
University Of Virginia Public 386 $158,376
Ave Maria School Of Law Private 115 $158,206
Howard University Private 219 $156,563
Northwestern University Private 329 $156,418
Seattle University Private 375 $155,575
Charleston School Of Law Proprietary 206 $154,378
Willamette University Private 182 $154,190
Marquette University Private 322 $154,154
John Marshall Law School (The) Private n/a $154,079
Cornell University Private n/a $153,937
Fordham University Private 428 $151,250
University Of California, Berkeley Public 433 $150,862
Touro College Private 228 $150,767
University Of Miami Private 388 $150,659
University Of Detroit Mercy Private 119 $149,993
University Of Pennsylvania Private 331 $149,729
Saint Thomas University Private n/a $149,322
California Western School Of Law Private 331 $149,246
Chapman University Private n/a $148,852
Hofstra University Private 328 $148,342
University Of Chicago (The) Private 268 $146,806
University Of Michigan - Ann Arbor Public 457 $145,182
Campbell University Private 196 $144,330
Loyola Marymount University Private 466 $144,200
University Of Denver Private 396 $143,237
Catholic University Of America (The) Private 195 $141,718
Loyola University Chicago Private 318 $141,244
Mercer University Private n/a $140,818
University Of La Verne Private 78 $140,182
Valparaiso University Private 241 $139,821
Duke University Private n/a $138,000
University Of California, Hastings College Of The Public 454 $137,787
Stetson University Private 444 $137,217
Samford University Private n/a $135,438
Southern Methodist University Private 283 $134,484
University Of San Diego Private 313 $134,348
Widener University Private 342 $134,228
Trinity International University Private n/a $133,925
Lewis & Clark College Private n/a $133,785
Harvard University Private 815 $133,617
Depaul University Private 363 $132,803
Creighton University Private 181 $132,800
Oklahoma City University Private n/a $132,586
South Texas College Of Law Houston Private 469 $132,415
Emory University Private 391 $131,738
University Of Notre Dame Private 279 $130,589
Loyola University New Orleans Private n/a $130,522
Western New England University Private n/a $129,662
University Of Southern California Private 283 $129,223
Capital University Private 172 $129,089
Vanderbilt University Private 235 $129,030
Suffolk University Private n/a $128,897
Mississippi College Private 196 $128,722
Yale University Private n/a $126,398
Seton Hall University Private 242 $126,050
Roger Williams University Private 169 $123,384
Tulane University Private 256 $121,757
University Of California, Los Angeles Public 469 $121,453
Belmont University Private n/a $120,498
Stanford University Private 250 $120,410
University Of Dayton Private n/a $120,274
University Of California, Irvine Public 67 $119,986
Texas A&M University Public 301 $119,803
Brooklyn Law School Private 544 $119,445
Regent University Private 134 $118,275
University Of Maryland, Baltimore Public 279 $118,155
Appalachian School Of Law Private 75 $117,964
Texas Southern University Public 249 $117,935
Drake University Private 76 $116,863
John F. Kennedy University Private n/a $116,722
Argosy University Proprietary 134 $114,795
George Mason University Public 174 $114,383
Wake Forest University Private 268 $113,656
Saint John's University Private 321 $112,662
University Of Minnesota - Twin Cities Public 315 $111,766
Yeshiva University Private 388 $111,031
Boston University Private 308 $110,891
Albany Law School Of Union University Private n/a $110,549
University Of Baltimore Public 363 $109,510
Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapoli Public 122 $109,422
New England Law | Boston Private n/a $109,422
University Of Washington - Seattle Public 210 $109,405
Gonzaga University Private 176 $109,362
University Of North Carolina - Chapel Hill Public 302 $107,059
Saint Louis University Private n/a $106,638
University Of Texas At Austin Public 460 $106,283
Syracuse University Private 247 $106,000
Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University Public 150 $105,703
Northeastern University Private 231 $105,639
Florida International University Public n/a $104,971
Illinois Institute Of Technology Private 319 $104,921
Pace University Private 267 $102,821
University Of Massachusetts - Dartmouth Public n/a $102,500
St. Mary's University Private 341 $102,500
University Of South Carolina - Columbia Public 319 $102,007
University Of Colorado Boulder Public 268 $101,626
University Of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh Public 247 $101,186
Boston College Private 306 $100,594
Ohio Northern University Private n/a $100,224
Inter American University Of Puerto Rico - School Private 325 $99,403
College Of William & Mary Public 309 $98,700
University Of Missouri - Kansas City Public 235 $98,511
University Of California, Davis Public 209 $98,403
Southern Illinois University At Carbondale Public 201 $98,215
University Of Richmond Private 230 $97,625
Washington And Lee University Private 146 $97,276
Pontifical Catholic University Of Puerto Rico Private 278 $97,269
Ohio State University (The) Public 264 $97,238
University Of The District Of Columbia Public 60 $96,992
Pennsylvania State University (The) Public 243 $96,321
Southern University And Agricultural & Mechanical Public 187 $95,437
University Of Louisville Public 156 $94,503
University Of Southern Maine Public 132 $94,364
North Carolina Central University Public 316 $94,358
Arizona State University Public n/a $94,325
University Of Nevada - Las Vegas Public 184 $94,197
Concordia University Private 43 $93,755
University Of Houston Public 302 $92,067
Baylor University Private n/a $91,401
Lincoln Memorial University Private n/a $91,323
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign Public n/a $90,928
State University Of New York At Buffalo Public 259 $90,928
Michigan State University College Of Law Private 425 $90,674
University Of New Hampshire Public n/a $89,700
Humphreys University Private 25 $89,317
University Of Oregon Public 180 $88,306
Drexel University Private 222 $87,864
University Of Idaho Public 193 $85,550
Indiana University - Bloomington Public 248 $85,162
University Of Florida Public 463 $84,508
Duquesne University Private 210 $84,428
University Of Saint Thomas Private 160 $84,261
West Virginia University Public 169 $84,227
University Of Wyoming Public 104 $84,032
University Of New Mexico Public n/a $83,999
Cleveland State University Public 179 $83,868
Villanova University Private 203 $83,761
Northern Illinois University Public 121 $83,660
Case Western Reserve University Private 171 $82,570
University Of Georgia Public 284 $82,480
Washburn University - Topeka Public 148 $82,194
Quinnipiac University Private 115 $82,000
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey Public n/a $82,000
University Of Toledo Public 142 $81,546
Washington University In St. Louis Private 269 $81,500
University Of Arizona (The) Public 162 $81,178
Florida State University Public 294 $81,159
Northern Kentucky University Public 136 $79,951
University Of Utah Public 187 $79,768
University Of South Dakota Public 109 $79,143
Cuny School Of Law '(The)' Public 151 $78,224
University Of Hawaii At Manoa Public 127 $77,849
University Of Arkansas At Little Rock Public 116 $77,208
University Of Montana (The) Public 134 $76,666
University Of Memphis (The) Public 159 $76,622
Purdue University Global Public 74 $76,508
University Of Cincinnati Public 140 $76,173
Massachusetts School Of Law At Andover Private n/a $75,467
University Of Tulsa (The) Private 116 $75,326
University Of Oklahoma Public n/a $74,250
University Of Akron (The) Public 184 $73,756
University Of Missouri - Columbia Public 168 $71,603
Louisiana State University Public 258 $71,422
Texas Tech University Public 185 $70,006
University Of Kentucky Public 194 $69,860
Temple University Public 308 $69,583
Georgia State University Public 293 $69,200
University Of Connecticut Public 214 $69,085
University Of Alabama Public 174 $68,992
Wayne State University Public 175 $67,640
University Of Kansas Public 170 $66,415
Mitchell Hamline School Of Law Private 409 $64,429
University Of Mississippi Public 167 $64,300
University Of Iowa Public 167 $62,249
University Of Arkansas Public 178 $61,500
University Of North Dakota Public 90 $61,500
University Of Tennessee Public 191 $61,500
University Of Wisconsin - Madison Public 263 $61,500
Taft University System (The) Proprietary 27 $61,500
Indiana Institute Of Technology Private 26 $59,650
University Of Nebraska Public 159 $59,124
Brigham Young University Private n/a $51,250
Santa Barbara And Ventura Colleges Of Law Private 36 $20,500
 
Law School School Type Count Mean Debt
Thomas Jefferson School Of Law Private 337 $190,263
Southwestern Law School Private 540 $187,494
Whittier College Private 237 $186,978
Florida Coastal School Of Law Proprietary 476 $182,215
Touro College Private n/a $178,607
University Of San Francisco Private n/a $176,289
Arizona Summit Law School Proprietary 272 $175,459
Charlotte School Of Law Proprietary n/a $172,517
New York University Private 570 $170,700
American University (The) Private 588 $166,187
Atlanta's John Marshall Law School Proprietary 287 $164,577
Georgetown University Private 937 $160,905
New York Law School Private 414 $160,222
Barry University Private 365 $156,543
Elon University Private 77 $155,958
Faulkner University Private 10 $154,834
Thomas M. Cooley Law School Private 641 $153,258
Golden Gate University Private 166 $153,104
Pepperdine University Private n/a $152,712
Columbia University Private 513 $151,400
Nova Southeastern University Private 133 $150,527
Ave Maria School Of Law Private 115 $150,525
John Marshall Law School (The) Private n/a $150,306
Howard University Private 219 $149,946
George Washington University Private 804 $149,904
University Of Virginia Public 386 $149,871
Willamette University Private 182 $148,864
Santa Clara University Private 231 $148,759
Saint Thomas University Private n/a $147,706
Touro College Private 228 $147,305
Fordham University Private 428 $147,020
Northwestern University Private 329 $146,926
University Of Miami Private 388 $146,684
California Western School Of Law Private 331 $146,536
University Of Pennsylvania Private 331 $146,402
Loyola Marymount University Private 466 $146,358
Charleston School Of Law Proprietary 206 $145,354
University Of The Pacific Private 244 $144,881
Seattle University Private 375 $143,904
University Of Denver Private 396 $143,871
University Of California, Berkeley Public 433 $143,418
Cornell University Private n/a $143,335
Marquette University Private 322 $142,402
Hofstra University Private 328 $140,548
Chapman University Private n/a $140,055
University Of La Verne Private 78 $139,824
Catholic University Of America (The) Private 195 $139,404
Mercer University Private n/a $138,036
Harvard University Private 815 $136,746
University Of Detroit Mercy Private 119 $135,700
University Of Chicago (The) Private 268 $134,795
University Of Michigan - Ann Arbor Public 457 $134,538
Duke University Private n/a $133,131
Lewis & Clark College Private n/a $132,824
Campbell University Private 196 $131,858
Valparaiso University Private 241 $131,103
Loyola University Chicago Private 318 $130,973
Widener University Private 342 $130,489
Trinity International University Private n/a $130,446
Southern Methodist University Private 283 $129,977
Stetson University Private 444 $129,753
University Of San Diego Private 313 $129,427
Creighton University Private 181 $129,223
Suffolk University Private n/a $128,405
Samford University Private n/a $126,954
Seton Hall University Private 242 $126,918
Tulane University Private 256 $125,898
Loyola University New Orleans Private n/a $125,774
University Of California, Hastings College Of The Public 454 $125,545
Mississippi College Private 196 $125,458
Western New England University Private n/a $125,446
University Of Southern California Private 283 $124,796
Depaul University Private 363 $124,285
Oklahoma City University Private n/a $124,005
South Texas College Of Law Houston Private 469 $122,530
Capital University Private 172 $122,388
University Of Notre Dame Private 279 $120,935
Baylor University Private n/a $120,798
University Of California, Irvine Public 67 $120,742
Belmont University Private n/a $120,657
Stanford University Private 250 $119,935
Vanderbilt University Private 235 $119,460
Yale University Private n/a $119,139
Argosy University Proprietary 134 $119,071
Regent University Private 134 $118,765
New England Law | Boston Private n/a $118,727
Emory University Private 391 $118,187
Drake University Private 76 $117,875
John F. Kennedy University Private n/a $117,788
Roger Williams University Private 169 $117,507
University Of California, Los Angeles Public 469 $117,431
Texas A&M University Public 301 $116,569
Brooklyn Law School Private 544 $115,290
University Of Maryland, Baltimore Public 279 $115,234
Saint John's University Private 321 $114,793
Yeshiva University Private 388 $113,065
University Of Dayton Private n/a $111,690
University Of Baltimore Public 363 $111,218
Syracuse University Private 247 $110,287
St. Mary's University Private 341 $110,159
George Mason University Public 174 $110,086
Wake Forest University Private 268 $109,384
Texas Southern University Public 249 $109,359
Pace University Private 267 $108,729
Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapoli Public 122 $107,843
Northeastern University Private 231 $107,260
Saint Louis University Private n/a $106,453
University Of Minnesota - Twin Cities Public 315 $105,304
Illinois Institute Of Technology Private 319 $105,102
University Of Washington - Seattle Public 210 $104,816
Appalachian School Of Law Private 75 $104,751
Gonzaga University Private 176 $104,061
Florida International University Public n/a $103,805
Hamline University Private n/a $103,549
Boston University Private 308 $103,412
Boston College Private 306 $103,300
Stetson University Private n/a $103,025
Albany Law School Of Union University Private n/a $102,647
University Of Massachusetts - Dartmouth Public n/a $102,166
University Of North Carolina - Chapel Hill Public 302 $102,039
University Of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh Public 247 $100,937
University Of Colorado Boulder Public 268 $100,687
University Of Texas At Austin Public 460 $100,120
Washington And Lee University Private 146 $99,743
North Carolina Central University Public 316 $99,397
Ohio Northern University Private n/a $99,364
Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University Public 150 $99,241
University Of The District Of Columbia Public 60 $99,053
University Of Richmond Private 230 $98,256
Southern University And Agricultural & Mechanical Public 187 $97,877
University Of South Carolina - Columbia Public 319 $97,758
Duquesne University Private 210 $97,599
Pontifical Catholic University Of Puerto Ric Private 278 $97,174
Arizona State University Public n/a $96,920
University Of Illinois At Urbana-Champaign Public n/a $96,195
Pennsylvania State University (The) Public 243 $96,103
Villanova University Private 203 $95,946
University Of New Hampshire Public n/a $95,723
College Of William & Mary Public 309 $95,654
Inter American University Of Puerto Rico - School Private 325 $95,175
University Of Houston Public 302 $94,515
Drexel University Private 222 $94,453
Ohio State University (The) Public 264 $94,210
University Of Nevada - Las Vegas Public 184 $93,899
Humphreys University Private 25 $93,865
Quinnipiac University Private 115 $93,726
University Of California, Davis Public 209 $93,667
University Of Louisville Public 156 $93,612
Indiana University - Bloomington Public 248 $93,379
University Of Missouri - Kansas City Public 235 $93,104
Michigan State University College Of Law Private 425 $92,924
State University Of New York At Buffalo Public 259 $92,108
University Of Southern Maine Public 132 $91,522
Concordia University Private 43 $90,995
Washington University In St. Louis Private 269 $90,881
Southern Illinois University At Carbondale Public 201 $90,584
Lincoln Memorial University Private n/a $89,830
Case Western Reserve University Private 171 $89,821
University Of Oregon Public 180 $88,748
University Of Idaho Public 193 $88,218
University Of Saint Thomas Private 160 $87,679
University Of Utah Public 187 $87,311
University Of Wyoming Public 104 $87,084
Cleveland State University Public 179 $87,010
Northern Illinois University Public 121 $86,582
University Of Hawaii At Manoa Public 127 $85,910
Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey Public n/a $85,182
Florida State University Public 294 $84,310
University Of Florida Public 463 $84,052
West Virginia University Public 169 $83,920
University Of Arizona (The) Public 162 $83,884
University Of South Dakota Public 109 $83,322
University Of Tulsa (The) Private 116 $83,107
Louisiana State University Public 258 $82,907
University Of Georgia Public 284 $82,605
Washburn University - Topeka Public 148 $81,972
University Of Oklahoma Public n/a $81,629
Alliant International University Proprietary n/a $81,410
University Of Memphis (The) Public 159 $81,224
Northern Kentucky University Public 136 $81,164
University Of Toledo Public 142 $81,143
University Of New Mexico Public n/a $80,068
Concordia University Private n/a $79,498
Texas Tech University Public 185 $79,436
University Of Kentucky Public 194 $79,160
University Of Akron (The) Public 184 $78,953
Temple University Public 308 $78,731
Massachusetts School Of Law At Andover Private n/a $78,433
Wayne State University Public 175 $78,042
Liberty University Private n/a $77,218
University Of Montana (The) Public 134 $76,804
University Of Alabama Public 174 $76,753
University Of Kansas Public 170 $76,195
Mitchell Hamline School Of Law Private 409 $74,963
University Of Tennessee Public 191 $74,744
Cuny School Of Law '(The)' Public 151 $74,724
Purdue University Global Public 74 $72,513
University Of Cincinnati Public 140 $72,453
University Of Arkansas At Little Rock Public 116 $72,079
University Of Iowa Public 167 $71,536
University Of Wisconsin - Madison Public 263 $71,525
University Of Connecticut Public 214 $70,787
University Of Missouri - Columbia Public 168 $70,657
Georgia State University Public 293 $69,753
University Of Arkansas Public 178 $67,448
University Of Mississippi Public 167 $66,247
Indiana Institute Of Technology Private 26 $65,639
University Of Nebraska Public 159 $62,485
University Of North Dakota Public 90 $62,151
Taft University System (The) Proprietary 27 $60,581
Brigham Young University Private n/a $51,245
Santa Barbara And Ventura Colleges Of Law Private 36 $30,506

Assessing the effect of the ABA's new ultimate bar passage requirement

The ABA, after years of wrestling with the idea, finally approved a requirement that ”at least 75% of a law school’s graduates who sat for a bar exam must pass within two years of graduation.” Here’s a Q&A on some of the likely effect—at least, answering questions I’ve thought about for the last few years!

How many law schools could face accreditation risks?

There are several ways of looking at this question. You can look at all of the law schools’ ultimate bar passage rates for 2015 and 2016, but the rule only formally takes effect for the Class of 2017 (that is, bar passage attempts through 2019). We can look to past law school activity, which gives us a good starting place. But we can also be skeptical of these lists for several reasons—we should anticipate law school behavior will change, and so on.

Let’s start with the schools likely in the most dire shape: 7 of them. While the proposal undoubtedly may impact far more, I decided to look at schools that failed to meet the standard in both 2015 and 2016; and I pulled out schools that were already closing, schools in Puerto Rico (we could see Puerto Rico move from 3 schools to 1 school, or perhaps 0 schools, in short order), and schools that appeared on a list due to data reporting errors. Finally, I removed South Dakota, which saw its bar passage rate drop when the bar exam cut score was raised, but that cut score has been lowered and it appears to be in good shape.

  1L Class Size 2018 Attrition Bar Cut score
2012 2018 Delta
Atl's John Marshall 181 108 -40.3% 9.0% GA 135
Barry 293 255 -13.0% 3.0% FL 136
UDC 125 64 -48.8% 2.8% DC 133
Florida Coastal 580 60 -89.7% 3.3% FL 136
Golden Gate 227 237 4.4% 3.1% CA 144
New England 450 185 -58.9% 0.8% MA 135
Cooley 897 541 -39.7% 2.3% MI/FL 135/136

These schools represent just about 3% of law schools and just over 3% of 1Ls in 2018.

Undoubtedly, other law schools that are at or near the cutoff that are probably going to be watching their admissions, retention, and bar preparation more closely, but these are, I think, the ones most likely to face a direct effect.

Will law schools institute more selective admissions procedures?

It could be. For the most at-risk law schools, however, it’s not clear they can be much more selective absent significant financial investment (which they may lack). The alternative is for the most at-risk schools to shrink their class sizes. But some (not all) have had dramatic cuts already, as seen above. If schools can sustain bigger cuts, they may do so—but it’s not clear how sustainable that is.

For schools not directly affected but facing the heat of the new standard, they may have to begin reconsidering admissions strategies that value chasing USNWR rankings over selecting a higher quality incoming class.

Will law schools increase the number of academic dismissals?

It’s possible. From the chart above, most of these schools have fairly low dismissal rates. There’s room for higher non-transfer (academic + “other”) attrition. But ABA Standard 501(b) requires “law school shall only admit applicants who appear capable of satisfactorily completing its program of legal education and being admitted to the bar,” and Interpretation 501-3 provides, “A law school having a cumulative non-transfer attrition rate above 20 percent for a class creates a rebuttable presumption that the law school is not in compliance with the Standard.” So schools can increase dismissals, but not too much.

Will this proposal disproportionately affect schools in California, HBCUs, or for-profit schools?

Despite the fact that California has one of the highest cut scores at 144, only one school failed to meet the standard in both 2015 and 2016 (while another, not listed, is closing). California law school graduates typically score much higher on the bar exam than test-takers nationwide. A 75% pass rate within two years of graduation is therefore fairly attainable, even as first-time bar pass rates remain low. But even in California, the overall first-time pass rate among graduates of California’s ABA-accredited law schools in July 2018 was 64%, meaning many schools exceed 75% on the first attempt, and many more quickly cross 75% on students’ second attempt. That said, several California law schools failed to meet the standard in at least one of 2015 or 2016.

Only one HBCU law school is on the list. (Another missed the cutoff in 1 of 2 years.) Two for-profit law schools are in the list (others have closed recently as their numbers dwindle).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of the at-risk schools are in jurisdictions with relatively higher cut scores (135 and up). (The median bar exam cut score is around 133-135 in most jurisdictions.)

Will state bars lower their cut scores in response?

It’s possible. Several state bars (like South Dakota as mentioned above) have lowered their cut scores in recent years when bar passage rates dropped. If states like California and Florida look at the risk of losing accredited law schools under the new proposal, they may lower their cut scores, as I suggested back in 2016. If the state bar views it as important to protect their in-state law schools, they may choose the tradeoff of lowering cut scores (or they may add it to their calculus about what the score should be). Of course, lowering cut scores may have downsides, too, but that’s another matter….

Could schools encourage their graduate to take an “easier” bar or skip the bar exam altogether?

It’s possible. But discouraging students from taking the bar exam strikes me as an unrealistic proposition—there’s little incentive for a JD not to at least try, and the law school has few mechanisms except maybe pleading with students not to take the bar.

Taking an “easier” bar is a likelier proposition, but, again, if students are dead set on taking a “hard” bar, there is little school can do—a student who wants to practice in California not Alabama may simply be unpersuadable. The rise of the Uniform Bar Exam, however, makes this a much more promising possibility for some. A school worried about graduate passing the Oregon (137) or Colorado (138) could encourage the graduate to sit for the North Dakota (130) bar—all are the UBE, after all. If the student passes the ND bar, great! If they pass, and get a high enough score to waive into OR or CO, all the better! The only downside is convincing the student to go sit in ND for the bar exam if they don’t want to, and potentially pay for two state bar admissions if they pass, but schools might find modest funds to offset those costs.

Additionally, schools might find additional resources to subsidize students who fail the bar to retake it. Taking the bar is an expensive proposition, and students may be discouraged after a failure (or two, or three) from retaking it. To prevent those students from dropping off, schools might increasingly subsidize repeat efforts. That’s good for graduates, if it happens.

Will law schools invest in bar prep courses or change their curriculum?

Assuredly yes. But that’s not the right question [ed.: who’s writing these questions!]. Instead, will those actually help any students? The answer, in all likelihood, is no.

First, schools likely have been implementing bar passage improvement programs for several years, given that bar passage rates have been in decline for several years. But the sad evidence is that, so far, they don’t appear to be improving bar passage results. Worse, a recent California bar study specifically examining programs at several law schools found no relationship between bar prep programs at law schools and bar passage results.

Schools might be tempted to tweak their curriculum—require more bar-related courses or expand coverage of content in the first year—but that, too, seems unhelpful. There’s no evidence that performance in a given substantive law school course relates to performance on that topic on the bar exam.

Undoubtedly, the response for many law schools will be, “Don’t just stand there, do something!” But it remains highly contested, in my view, about whether the “do something” will lead to improvement.

All in all, is the new standard a good thing?

Well, maybe? (A great answer of an academic, I know.) Tightening admissions and increasing academic dismissals certainly improve the likelihood that graduates ultimately pass the bar exam, which puts them in compliance with the standard. But it is only a likelihood—schools may not take risks on certain bands of students who might ultimately succeed even if their predictors don’t show it. Then again, if massive debt loads, an uncertain job market for marginal law school graduates, and still a high risk of failure are put into the equation, maybe we want more risk-averse decisionmaking at law schools.

That said, I continue to wonder about why the ABA is accrediting law schools as it increasingly obsesses over bar passage rates. Barry Currier has written to defend that we ought to require a bar exam and that ABA law school accreditation standards should have a bar passage standard. But it’s not clear to me why bar passage is tied in most jurisdictions to attending an ABA-accredited school. And it strikes me that if the ABA is insisting that good law schools are (among other things) the ones where most of the graduates pass the bar exam, it’s not clear that ABA accreditation is doing much value-added except telling us what the bar exam is already telling us.

What’s the bottom line here?

Oh, I digress. In short, I think a few law schools will face intense pressure in the short-term future, and a few may close. Many others will consider some structural changes in admissions and retention practices (which should improve rates), and curricular and bar prep changes (which likely won’t improve rates), to the extent those schools can afford to do so. But I won’t expect anything too dire. While it’s safe to say that 30 or so law schools have something to worry about, a much smaller number are facing existential threats to their schools.

Overall legal employment for the Class of 2018 improved somewhat

Despite poor, and in some cases declining, bar passage rates in many jurisdictions over the last four years, we’ve seen steady overall improvement in the market for law school graduates, and the Class of 2018 is no exception. All trends are fairly positive, even if small, and even if some of those are driven by shrinking class sizes. Below are figures for the ABA-disclosed data (excluding Puerto Rico’s three law schools).

  Graduates FTLT BPR Placement FTLT JDA
Class of 2012 45,751 25,503 55.7% 4,218
Class of 2013 46,112 25,787 55.9% 4,550
Class of 2014 43,195 25,348 58.7% 4,774
Class of 2015 40,205 23,895 59.4% 4,416
Class of 2016 36,654 22,874 62.4% 3,948
Class of 2017 34,428 23,078 67.0% 3,121
Class of 2018 33,633 23,314 69.3% 3,123

Placement in bar passage-required jobs continued to improve, and graduates shrank. That put placement in full-time, long-term, bar passage-required jobs up to 69.3% (excluding school-funded positions). Unlike recent years, we also saw a small increase in J.D.-advantage position placement.

We can also compare the Class of 2018 to the Class of 2013—a recent high-water mark in total graduates and bar passage-required jobs (even if the percentage placed in those jobs was relatively low). We can look at placement by firm size, and by industry.

FTLT Class of 2013 Class of 2018 Net Delta
Solo 926 313 -613 -66.2%
2-10 6,947 4,999 -1948 -28.0%
11-25 1,842 1,689 -153 -8.3%
26-50 1,045 1,020 -25 -2.4%
51-100 846 821 -25 -3.0%
101-205 1,027 1,002 -25 -2.4%
251-500 1,041 949 -92 -8.8%
501+ 3,978 4,749 771 19.4%
Business/Industry 5,494 3,085 -2409 -43.8%
Government 4,360 3,860 -500 -11.5%
Public Interest 1,665 1,504 -161 -9.7%
Federal Clerk 1,259 1,174 -85 -6.8%
State Clerk 2,043 2,075 32 1.6%
Academia/Education 490 302 -188 -38.4%

The sharp demise of sole practitioners and small law firm placement is significant. Last year, I noted that placement in these positions might be the most at-risk when bar passage rates decline. Also of note is the decline in “business” jobs, which were typically J.D.-advantage positions and less desirable for graduates. Note, too, the continued rise of big law jobs—up nearly 800 placements since the Class of 2013. There had been some speculation during the recession that those jobs might be disappearing and that alternative positions would be needed for future classes, but this seems to be the healthiest market.

We can also compare the year-over-year placement in these job types, which are perhaps more volatile but still illuminating.

FTLT Class of 2017 Class of 2018 Net Delta
Solo 392 313 -79 -20.2%
2-10 5,145 4,999 -146 -2.8%
11-25 1,628 1,689 61 3.7%
26-50 953 1,020 67 7.0%
51-100 779 821 42 5.4%
101-205 956 1,002 46 4.8%
251-500 983 949 -34 -3.5%
501+ 4,569 4,749 180 3.9%
Business/Industry 3,241 3,085 -156 -4.8%
Government 3,812 3,860 48 1.3%
Public Interest 1,419 1,504 85 6.0%
Federal Clerk 1,151 1,174 23 2.0%
State Clerk 1,984 2,075 91 4.6%
Education 303 302 -1 -0.3%

Even year over year, we saw placement in large firms increase 180 positions, while solo and firms of 10 or fewer attorneys decline by over 220 positions.

Visualizing legal employment outcomes in California in 2018

This is the eighth and final in a series of visualizations on legal employment outcomes for the Class of 2018. Following posts on outcomes in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, Florida, DC-Maryland-Virginia, and New York, here is a visualization for legal employment outcomes of graduates of law schools in California for the Class of 2018. (More about the methodology is available at the Illinois post.) Last year's California post is here.

Please note, of course, that “J.D.-advantage” jobs may differ significantly from school to school, which may alter how one views the “overall” rate. (USNWR treats them as equivalent, but there are good reasons to think they may not be equivalent; and here, there are significant disparities among some schools and their J.D.-advantage placement.) And recall that I sort the table below to include school-funded positions, while the chart only includes unfunded positions. (It’s a reason I try to display the information in different ways!) The California market presented a mixed but somewhat positive picture. The closure of Whittier meant I removed it from the chart. Comparing all other schools year-to-year, graduates increased slightly from 3761 to 3804. And bar passage-required jobs increased slightly, too, from 2353 to 2405. But J.D. advantage jobs climbed at a faster rate, from 322 to 354, and school funded positions increased slightly. Placement among these schools rose from 73.3% to 74.9% in all positions.

As always, please notify me of any corrections or errata.

Peer Score School 2018 YoY% BPR JDA LSF Grads 2017 BPR JDA LSF Grads
4.9 Stanford University 96.9% 3.0 165 12 10 193 93.9% 163 15 7 197
4.4 University of California-Berkeley 95.8% 1.0 276 4 16 309 94.8% 269 6 14 305
4.1 University of California-Los Angeles 92.5% 0.0 257 19 20 320 92.5% 283 17 31 358
3.7 University of Southern California 87.3% -2.6 162 11 6 205 90.0% 179 4 5 209
3.5 University of California-Irvine 86.8% 0.4 85 3 11 114 86.5% 72 4 7 96
3.4 University of California-Davis 86.4% 2.0 135 8 10 177 84.4% 119 10 12 167
2.7 Loyola Law School-Los Angeles 85.7% 6.1 213 24 3 280 79.6% 204 31 3 299
3.1 University of California-Hastings 78.7% 11.2 178 28 12 277 67.5% 166 22 1 280
2.7 Pepperdine University 78.6% 2.8 114 18 0 168 75.8% 134 34 1 223
1.9 Chapman University 73.9% 5.6 75 24 0 134 68.2% 81 20 0 148
2.7 University of San Diego 72.3% 4.7 172 19 0 264 67.6% 121 17 0 204
2.5 Santa Clara University 68.7% 4.7 127 22 0 217 64.0% 77 10 0 136
1.9 McGeorge School of Law 63.9% 4.8 66 19 0 133 59.1% 62 16 0 132
1.8 Southwestern Law School 63.2% 4.6 128 39 1 266 58.6% 124 43 0 285
1.5 California Western School of Law 61.1% -3.3 86 32 0 193 64.5% 106 21 0 197
1.1 Western State College of Law 57.0% 4.9 49 8 0 100 52.1% 32 6 0 73
1.5 Golden Gate University 48.2% -3.5 27 11 2 83 51.7% 33 11 1 87
1.9 University of San Francisco 45.0% -15.8 49 26 1 169 60.8% 75 18 0 153
1.2 University of La Verne 43.1% 6.3 13 12 0 58 36.8% 12 2 0 38
nr Thomas Jefferson School of Law 29.9% -2.3 28 15 0 144 32.2% 41 15 0 174

Visualizing legal employment outcomes in New York in 2018

This is the seventh in a series of visualizations on legal employment outcomes for the Class of 2018. Following posts on outcomes in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, Florida, and DC-Maryland-Virginia, here is a visualization for legal employment outcomes of graduates of law schools in New York for the Class of 2018. (More about the methodology is available at the Illinois post.) Last year's New York post is here.

Please note, of course, that “J.D.-advantage” jobs may differ significantly from school to school, which may alter how one views the “overall” rate. (USNWR treats them as equivalent, but there are good reasons to think they may not be equivalent; and here, there are significant disparities among some schools and their J.D.-advantage placement.) And recall that I sort the table below to include school-funded positions, while the chart only includes unfunded positions. (It’s a reason I try to display the information in different ways!) The market showed improvement for the Class of 2018. Bar passage-required jobs rose from 2786 to 2882; J.D.-advantage rose slightly and school funded positions fell slightly. And while total graduates increased slightly to 3689, the improvement in bar passage-required positions helped increase placement from 84.5% to 86.1%.

As always, please notify me of any corrections or errata.

Peer score School 2018 YoY% BPR JDA LSF Grads 2017 BPR JDA LSF Grads
4.6 New York University 96.7% -0.4 411 3 29 458 97.1% 429 11 30 484
4.7 Columbia University 96.4% 0.1 420 8 5 449 96.3% 401 2 13 432
4.3 Cornell University 93.4% -0.2 178 4 1 196 93.6% 186 2 1 202
2.3 St. John's University 91.6% 9.8 186 21 0 226 81.8% 154 21 0 214
3.3 Fordham University 88.4% 10.8 302 24 2 371 77.7% 245 23 3 349
2.8 Cardozo School of Law 84.9% -2.1 207 23 1 272 87.0% 234 20 0 292
2.2 Hofstra University 82.4% 1.4 186 11 0 239 81.0% 180 12 0 237
1.9 New York Law School 81.0% 6.7 167 52 2 273 74.3% 123 56 0 241
2.6 Brooklyn Law School 80.5% 0.3 245 48 0 364 80.2% 264 31 0 368
1.9 Pace University 79.5% -5.2 118 14 0 166 84.7% 127 17 0 170
2.0 Albany Law School 79.0% -1.0 86 8 0 119 80.0% 78 10 0 110
2.2 University of Buffalo-SUNY 78.1% 7.0 101 13 0 146 71.1% 93 15 0 152
2.3 Syracuse University 76.3% -2.9 116 16 0 173 79.2% 103 15 0 149
2.2 City University of New York 74.0% 2.7 64 7 0 96 71.3% 65 2 0 94
1.5 Touro College 70.2% -5.0 95 4 0 141 75.2% 104 11 0 153

Visualizing legal employment outcomes in DC-Maryland-Virginia in 2018

This is the sixth in a series of visualizations on legal employment outcomes for the Class of 2018. Following posts on outcomes in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Texas, Ohio, and Florida, here is a visualization for legal employment outcomes of graduates of law schools in Washington, DC; Maryland; and Virginia for the Class of 2018. (More about the methodology is available at the Illinois post.) Last year's DC-Maryland-Virginia post is here.

Please note, of course, that “J.D.-advantage” jobs may differ significantly from school to school, which may alter how one views the “overall” rate. And recall that I sort the table below to include school-funded positions, while the chart only includes unfunded positions. (It’s a reason I try to display the information in different ways!) The market showed improvement for the Class of 2018. Bar passage-required jobs rose from 2318 to 2367; J.D.-advantage and school funded positions both fell slightly. There were more than 100 fewer graduates in this class, helping raise the overal employment rate from 80.3% to 83.9%. (Of note are four schools with fewer than 70 graduates each.)

As always, please notify me of any corrections or errata.

Peer score School 2018 YoY% BPR JDA LSF Grads 2017 BPR JDA LSF Grads
4.4 University of Virginia 97.7% 1.0 277 3 12 299 96.6% 271 7 8 296
4.2 Georgetown University 91.2% 2.2 532 28 33 650 89.0% 504 40 40 656
3 University of Maryland 88.9% 11.1 138 37 1 198 77.8% 108 36 3 189
3.3 William & Mary Law School 88.2% 7.5 149 16 0 187 80.8% 158 10 0 208
3.2 Washington & Lee University 87.6% 3.8 98 1 0 113 83.8% 79 4 0 99
3.5 George Washington University 84.0% 1.4 376 58 3 520 82.6% 422 69 9 605
2.7 George Mason University 83.9% 3.0 90 22 3 137 80.9% 92 26 5 152
2.7 University of Richmond 81.2% -0.7 118 29 0 181 81.9% 101 21 0 149
1.2 Liberty University 80.0% 11.0 32 4 0 45 69.0% 37 3 0 58
1.2 Regent University 77.3% 2.9 45 5 1 66 74.4% 46 10 2 78
2.1 University of Baltimore 77.0% 4.2 136 21 0 204 72.8% 136 27 0 224
2.6 Howard University 73.7% 3.8 80 17 1 133 69.9% 65 6 1 103
2.8 American University 73.6% 5.6 201 69 3 371 68.0% 197 56 0 372
1.5 District of Columbia 70.1% 4.0 26 20 1 67 66.2% 19 27 1 71
2.1 Catholic University of America 68.0% 4.1 56 10 0 97 64.0% 61 10 0 111
1.2 Appalachian School of Law 51.7% -7.8 13 2 0 29 59.5% 22 3 0 42