We have been discussing the difficult times for law graduates in the last couple years. I am happy to share some good news for a change. The George Washington University Law School is in the top ten law schools in the country for full-time long-term employment — a study based on 2011 graduates published by the ABA and completed by Law School Transparency. Notably, GW beats out Georgetown by 81.3 to 62.6 percent. The biggest surprise is Louisiana State University which ties for tenth with GWU.
The biggest winner is Virginia, which takes the number one spot. In the overall ranking, GW came in 20th in the annual listing by U.S. News and World Report.
Here are the employment rankings:
New York University 90.1
University of Chicago 88.2
George Washington 81.3
Louisiana State University 81.3
The rates are obviously disappointing for many of the lower ranked law schools. Many expect the bottom tier law schools to succumb to the economic pressures, but I am not so certain. I do believe that it would be a better service to the pool of law students to have a pruning of schools, which include diploma mills that flourish in states with loose regulations. Most worrisome is the level of debt being assumed by students at lower ranked schools.
The study shows an average of just over half of the graduates getting full-time jobs. That means that graduates at many of the lowest ranks schools are facing a much much higher rate of unemployment. While GW and other schools continue to struggle with the economy, they will weather this cycle fairly well. The question is whether the unemployment rate will affect the viability of the bottom twenty percent of law schools and result in a reduction on that end. The concern is that many fine law school in the mid-tier range could be hurt by this downturn, which would be a shame because these are often very good schools with talented faculties.