Law School Transparency. Often abbreviated as LST. Established in 2009, LST is a Georgia non-profit corporation with a mission to improve consumer information and to reform the traditional law school model. LST's research, policy papers, reports, and officers are frequently cited by traditional news organizations, legal news organizations, and important blogs. LST develops legal education policy ideas, shapes the national debate of these ideas, and challenges law schools, state bar associations, and the American Bar Association to change business as usual in the world of legal education.
LST Score Reports. They help prospective students make informed law school application and enrollment decisions using job outcome data. It is a collection of geographic, school, and other reports that have been designed to focus applicants on schools with observable relationships to specific locations and job types. The goal is to help prospective students understand which schools, if any, can help them achieve various career objectives. A guide on the various aspects of each report is available here.
State Reports. Each state report includes a list of schools (and accompanying data) that we generated by examining the number of graduates the school placed in that state. A school makes the list only when it meets the minimum threshold—5% of all graduates. Each state report includes four reports with different consumer data. Available here.
Other Reports. These are national reports that allow users to compare consumer data across all law schools. Available here.
School Profiles. These are school reports that provide school-specific employment and admissions data for the Class of 2009, 2010, and 2011. Available here.
LST Guides. A collection of guides written by LST and other contributors that help readers understand law school consumer information. Available here.
Methodology. The collection of LST Guides that explains how to use the LST Score Reports. Available here.
Class of XXXX. Includes graduates during a one-year period. For employment data, the class of 2011 included any student who graduated between graduates September 1, 2010 and August 31, 2011. For admissions data, the class of 2015 included all students matriculating between October 1, 2011 and September 30, 2012.
American Bar Association. Often abbreviated as ABA. The ABA is a non-profit and the world's largest voluntary professional organization, with nearly 400,000 members and more than 3,500 entities. It is committed to serving its members, improving the legal profession, eliminating bias and enhancing diversity, and advancing the rule of law throughout the United States and around the world. Its accrediting arm, the ABA Section of Legal Education & Admissions to the Bar, is the only accrediting body officially recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
National Association of Law Placement. Often abbreviated as NALP. It is a nonprofit educational association established to meet the needs of all participants in the legal employment process (career planning, recruitment and hiring, and professional development of law students and lawyers) for information, coordination and standards. NALP's membership includes virtually every ABA-approved law school in the U.S., Canadian law schools, and hundreds of legal employers from both the public and private sectors. NALP is dedicated to continuously improving career counseling and planning, recruitment and retention, and the professional development of law students, lawyers, and its members. Its vision is to drive innovation and collaboration in the legal profession through lifelong education and career development. Its mission is connecting its members by providing vision, expertise, research, and education; cultivating fair and ethical practices; and advocating for diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.
U.S. News & World Report. A for-profit magazine that ranks law schools. Often abbreviated as U.S. News. Read about the value of these rankings.
NALP Report. Each year, law schools collect employment data from fresh graduates and distribute the data to NALP. Once NALP receives the data, its researchers cleanse the data and provide report summaries to each school within three months (the NALP Report). The employment data contained in the report are highly valuable to prospective students and not available elsewhere. There is no cost associated with publishing the NALP report because it is ready-to-publish out of the box.
Employment Status. All graduates either have a known employment status or an unknown employment status. There are three kinds of known employment statuses: Employed, Unemployed, and Advanced Degree. Unknown employment status means that the school did not know, either through survey or investigation, whether a graduate is employed, unemployed, pursuing an advanced degree.
Non-Employed graduates are unemployed, pursuing an advanced degree, or have an unknown employment status. Otherwise, the graduate is Employed.
Employed graduates necessarily have jobs, but these jobs have different characteristics. The only criteria is that the graduate was hired for, was actually working in a position as of February following graduation, and received compensation via hourly wage, salary, or stipend for that position.
School-Funded jobs are jobs that are funded by the law school. The school funds are typically very modest stipends. At some schools, students may work in private positions, but the vast majority require that the student volunteer at a nonprofit or government office.
Job Duration. Describes how long the graduate expect to have the job.
Long-Term jobs either have a fixed duration of at least one year or have no definite duration. Sometimes abbreviated as LT.
Short-Term jobs have a fixed duration less than one year. Sometimes abbreviated as ST.
Job Hours Describes how many hours per week a graduate works.
Full-time jobs are at least 35 hours per week.
Part-time jobs are usually fewer than 35 hours per week.
Credentials. Describes the kind of jobs worked, relative to the career path, as opposed to the type of employer.
Bar Passage Required. Includes jobs as an attorneys or as Judicial Clerks. Except for clerks, these jobs anticipate or require that you pass the bar and be licensed to practice law. The Bar Passage Required category sweeps judicial clerks into the fray, whether or not they took or passed the bar.
J.D. Advantage Includes jobs as paralegals, law school admissions officers, and a host of other jobs such as consultants, bank examiners, and contracts administrators. A graduate falls into this category when the employer sought an individual with a J.D. (and perhaps even required a J.D.), or for which the J.D. provided a demonstrable advantage in obtaining or performing the job, but the job itself does not require bar passage, an active law license, or involve practicing law.
Professional. Includes jobs which require professional skills or training, but for which a J.D. is neither an advantage nor particularly applicable, such as an accountant, teacher, business manager, or nurse.
Non-Professional. Includes jobs that do not require any professional skills or training and is not viewed as part of a career path.
Employer Type. These classifications reflect the type of employer that employs the graduate; it does not reflect the type of job the graduate has with the employer. When a school reports 45% in "law firms," this means 45% of employed graduates work as an attorney, law clerk, paralegal, or administrator. Without access to the underlying data or another signal, you cannot evaluate which jobs graduates take in law firms. One signal comes from using the percentage of employed graduates in Bar Passage Required jobs. If this number is 100%, you can interpret 45% in Law Firms to mean 45% of employed graduates work as an attorney in a law firm. Some of these might be Short-term or non-partnership track jobs, but you can be assured they are lawyer jobs.
Law Firm. Includes all jobs in private practice, including jobs as an associate, law clerk, paralegal, or other professional or clerical staff. Private practice includes public interest law firms, which are private and for-profit firms distinguished from other private firms in that a majority of their practice involves clients that are typically underrepresented, or groups that advocate for community rather than corporate interests.
Law Firm Size. Firm size refers to the total number of attorneys firm-wide counting all senior and junior partners, of counsel, staff attorneys, senior and junior associates, and the like.
Business: Includes for-profit organizations not fitting the Law Firm category and some not-for-profits, like political campaigns. This category is broad and includes most employers that are not law firms, schools, or government organizations. The category encompasses everything from short-order cooks to in-house counsel to managing the local U-Haul. As such, it's important to break the category down by the graduate's career path (i.e. Credentials).
Government: Includes federal, state, and local government as well as jobs in military (whether JAG or other uniformed positions) and jobs with tribal governments, foreign governments, or the United Nations. This category does not include public defender or appellate defender jobs, which fall in the Public Interest category, jobs with political campaigns, which fall in the Business category, or judicial clerk positions, which fall in the Judicial Clerkship category.
Public Interest: Includes publicly-funded jobs. Examples include organizations offering civil legal services, jobs as public defender or appellate defender, and jobs with private nonprofit advocacy, religious, social service, fundraising, community resource, or cause-related organizations. It also includes nonprofit policy analysis and research organizations, as well as jobs with unions but not trade associations or public interest law firms.
Academic: Positions may be at any level, from elementary to higher education, including a law school in admissions or career services, and within either the private or public sector, e.g., private colleges, state universities, and local public education.
Job Offer Timing. Describes when the graduate received the offer for the job held as of February following graduation. The options are before graduation, between graduation and bar results, and after bar results.
Job Source. Describes how the graduate first made the contact that resulted in his or her obtaining the job. Some students enter law school expecting career services to hand them a job, while many others think the jobs to be funneled in through the school, particularly at on-campus interviews. Even before the economy crashed, many graduates found their jobs without the direct help of career services, either through connections or other self-initiated contact.
Employment Score. The percentage of graduates who have successfully started a career in the practice of law, though it does not judge the quality of that start. We count only Bar Passage Required jobs while excluding Short-term and Part-time jobs, as well as self-employed Solo Practitioners.
Under-Employment Score. The percentage of graduates underusing their skills and credentials. These are graduates who have not successfully started any professional career nine months after graduating law school. We count a graduate as underemployed when he or she is Unemployed – Seeking, pursuing an additional Advanced Degree, in a Non-professional job, or employed in a Short-term or Part-time job.
Unknown Score. The percentage of graduates for whom their Employment Status was not known, either through survey or investigation, to the law school. Indicates the degree of completeness and reliability of the Employment Score and Under-Employment Score.
Salary Response Score. The percentage of the entire class who reported a salary greater than $0. Note that the denominator includes those who could not have reported a salary because they were unemployed, pursuing another advanced degree, or did not respond to the school's survey at all.
Public Service Score. The percentage of the entire class working in Long-term, Full-time Public Interest or Long-term, Full-time Government jobs. This does not include those in the Judicial Clerkship category, because these positions are almost always for a short, definite duration, nor those in the Academic category, because this category is notoriously fishy.
Enrollment Data. Reflect the LSAT score and GPA quartiles for all students who matriculate between October and September. For the Class of 2015, its members matriculated between October 2011 and September 2012. All enrollment data, unless otherwise indicated, reflect all matriculants whether they start in the winter, spring, summer, or fall, or attend class part-time or full-time.
Non-Discounted Cost. Using 2011-2012 tuition & fees prices and 2011-2012 indirect costs (room & board, etc.), the non-discounted cost is the projected debt owed by a graduate (who borrows the maximum amount allowed by the law school) when the graduate must make their first law school loan payment six months following graduation. In other words, the cost when a student debt-finances her education. These projections assume a 3% annual tuition increase and 2% annual indirect cost increase each year. Interest calculations are time-sensitive—based on semester disbursement periods—and use a blended interest rate. (The first 10.25k each semester is weighted at 6.8%, the rest at 7.9%.) In recent years, roughly 50% of students have paid full sticker for tuition & fees. The difference between the debt-financed, non-discounted cost and the non-discounted cost using savings is roughly the difference between the blended interest rate for sticker cost and the opportunity cost of the student's savings investment.
Resident-Discounted Cost. The same thing as the Non-Discounted cost, except that it uses resident tuition instead of non-resident or private school tuition. Only applies to public schools and BYU, which provides an equivalent discount for those of the LDS faith.
Tuition Discount. Sometimes referred to as scholarships. The discount is the amount of need-based or non-need-based discount a student receives to attend the law school. These often come with strings attached.
Percent Receiving Discount. The percentage of all enrolled students (not just one class) that receives a tuition discount, whether need-based or not, or with strings or without.
Median Discount. The middle tuition discount received by those who receive tuition discounts. If 60% of the school's enrollment receives a $5,000 discount, then 30% of the school received at least a $5,000 discount. In this scenario, 30% also received between $0 and $5,000 and 40% received no discount.
Monthly Payment. The monthly payment for somebody who owes the non-discounted or resident cost six months after graduation when the first payment is due. Each school's monthly payment is calibrated to the blended interest rate for each semester and type of federal loan.