Letter to the Editor of NY Post <br />re: Article on Employment Statistics

March 11, 2012

To the Editor,

There are factual errors and misleading statements about Columbia Law School in your March 11 article “NY law schools inflate job figures: critics.”

First, the article states that our employment rate for the J.D. Class of 2010 “dropped” from 98.6% to 96.5%. This is not the case. As we told the NY Post, and as detailed on our website, the National Association of Law Placement (NALP) computed our 2010 employment rate at 98.6% by counting graduates enrolled in full-time degree programs as “employed,” and by excluding those whose employment status is unknown. However, NALP, the American Bar Association, and U.S. News & [World] Report all calculate employment rates differently. U.S. News, for example, considers full-time graduate students and graduates whose employment status is unknown as “unemployed.” Based on this methodology, our employment rate is 96.5%. We discuss these methodologies on our website at http://www.law.columbia.edu/careers/employment-statistics.

Second, we wish the NY Post had asked us about the significant discrepancy between the number of 2010 graduates the National Law Journal reported as working in the NLJ 250 firms (239) and the number Columbia reported to the ABA and NALP (282). The NLJ did not discuss with us the difference between their numbers and ours for the Class of 2010, but we had detailed discussions with them about the Class of 2011 and discovered a number of reasons why their numbers are wrong. For example, 24 of the NLJ 250 firms did not respond to the NLJ’s survey. In addition, the NLJ did not count as “employed” some full-time, permanent, first year associates who were awaiting admission to the bar. The reason is that some firms use the term “law clerk” to describe them (in order to avoid an ethical issue about describing employees not yet admitted to the bar as “lawyers”).

Our graduates receive an unparalleled legal education, which continues to make them highly valued in the job market even during these challenging times. NY Post readers deserve to be presented with facts, something this article fails to do.

Elizabeth Schmalz
Executive Director, Communications and Public Affairs
Columbia Law School