U.S. News wants to set the record straight about our decision to publish more of the employment data we collect from law schools as part of our annual Best Law Schools rankings.
U.S. News is in the midst of doing a major redesign of the Education section of usnews.com. The current plan is that the redesign will be rolled out in phases in winter 2011. As part of the redesign process, we took a close look at all the graduate school surveys we conduct to see which data was not being published on usnews.com. U.S. News currently reports the overall percentage of graduates employed at graduation and nine months after graduation.
We also collect, but don't publish, far more information for those two time periods, including the number of grads enrolled in full-time degree programs, the number of graduates whose employment status is unknown, the number that aren't looking for work, the number of grads who are unemployed and looking for work, and the number who have jobs. That data is the basis for the two employment rate calculations that are part of the current Best Law Schools rankings.
U.S. News is committed to adding these new data fields and others from the law school statistical survey to our website. The new data we will be publishing will not impact how the rankings are calculated. The current plan is that the new law data fields for 2008 graduates will be added retroactively as part of the redesign, but not as part of its first phase. If we are unable to add them as part of the redesign rollout, they will be added for 2009 graduates when the upcoming new Best Law Schools rankings are launched in late winter 2011.
U.S. News has also been in discussions with Law School Transparency (LST), a nonprofit formed by Vanderbilt University law students trying to get law schools, the American Bar Association, and the media to disclose and publish far more robust job statistics on recent law school graduates. LST strongly urged U.S. News to publish more of the J.D. job information that we were collecting. Those discussions with LST played a part in our decisions, but were not the catalyst behind our move to publish more employment data.
Why is U.S. News planning to publish more data? Job prospects for new J.D. graduates are far less robust than just a few years ago. Law school students need as much information as possible to help them realistically understand the employment prospects from their school and the economic value of their degree in terms of their ability to pay back loans and earning power. U.S. News believes the information we will be publishing will help current students in those efforts. However, disclosure of employment data by law schools is still woefully lacking given the cost of attendance and poor job market. U.S. News strongly backs all ongoing efforts to require law schools to report even more detailed data on the how recent grads have fared in the job market. We would collect and publish those statistics if they were available.
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