Take This Job and Count It

January 19th, 2013 / By

In an article in the Journal of Legal Metrics, two Law School Transparency team members outline LST’s methodology for the LST Score Reports, an online tool designed to improve decisions by prospective law students. LST uses employment outcomes, projected costs, and admissions stats to help prospective students navigate their law school options.

Kyle McEntee and Derek Tokaz, the authors of both this paper and the online tool, resist the urge to rank schools on a national scale. Instead, they sort schools by where their graduates work post-graduation, allowing applicants to consider schools by geographic profile. The reports then use reader-friendly terms, like the percentage of graduates who secured full-time legal jobs, to help prospective students make educated decisions about which schools, if any, can meet their needs.

McEntee and Tokaz designed the reports to help prospective law students, but this article has important information for legal educators as well. The U.S. News rankings won’t disappear any time soon, but I think prospective students will begin looking at LST’s Score Reports in addition to the rankings. The reports contain more nuanced information, which prospective applicants will value; they also try to direct applicants into deeper exploration of their law school options.

As McEntee and Tokaz show, employment scores correlate imperfectly with U.S. News rank. As applicants begin to consider these scores, together with more transparent employment information on the schools’ websites, some schools will benefit while others suffer. Schools that under-perform their U.S. News score in job placement may want to explore why. Prospective students certainly will.

The other lesson for educators is that the vast majority of legal hiring is local. Students tend to stay in the city, state, and general region where they earned their law degree. As employers increasingly demand internships and unpaid apprenticeships, this trend may become even more dominant. It is hard to work part-time for a firm in one city while attending class in another. It’s far from impossible these days, with internet commuting, but students who lack face-time with prospective employers will be at a disadvantage. It’s also daunting to relocate after law school without a job in hand.

Law schools may find this information discouraging; most schools cherish their “national reputation” and want to extend it. It’s important to recognize, however, that the best job opportunities for graduates may be local ones. Time that a school spends promoting its national brand may deliver less return for graduates than time spent at local bar meetings.

On the bright side, schools should understand that a “national reputation” can co-exist with primarily local placement rates. That, in fact, is the reality for a vast number of law schools today. People around the country have heard about many law schools, even when those schools place most of their graduates locally. National reputation takes many forms and can pay off in many ways–even for graduates in later years. One lesson that I take from McEntee and Tokaz’s paper, however, is that schools should focus more diligently on their local, state, and regional reputations. That’s where the majority of job opportunities for graduates will lie.


About Law School Cafe

Cafe Manager & Co-Moderator
Deborah J. Merritt

Cafe Designer & Co-Moderator
Kyle McEntee

ABA Journal Blawg 100 HonoreeLaw School Cafe is a resource for anyone interested in changes in legal education and the legal profession.

Around the Cafe


Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.


Recent Comments

Recent Posts

Monthly Archives


Have something you think our audience would like to hear about? Interested in writing one or more guest posts? Send an email to the cafe manager at merritt52@gmail.com. We are interested in publishing posts from practitioners, students, faculty, and industry professionals.

Past and Present Guests