Comparing Law School Rankings? Read The Fine Print | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Comparing Law School Rankings? Read The Fine Print

Play associated audio

When students go to law school, they make a bunch of calculations. A big one is cost: top schools charge more than $50,000 a year, and graduate-student debt is on the rise. Another key calculation: The likelihood of getting a good job after graduation.

Each spring, US News & World Report releases its ranking of law schools. One of the factors that goes into the rankings: the percentage of students employed nine months after graduation.

But the US News rankings don't consider who employs the graduates, so long as they're employed in a professional position. Some schools have been hiring their own students, and rising in the rankings.

These students get a stipend from the school to work for nonprofits or in public service. That stipend can come out of the school's budget or sometimes alumni donations. And when a school hires its own students, it can bump up its ranking. William and Mary Law School, for example, jumped nine spots this year. It employs 20 percent of its students on a fellowship program.

The school's dean says the program helps students succeed by showing potential employers what they're capable of.

But Kyle McEntee, who graduated from law school in 2011 and runs a group called Law School Transparency, says students can't make an informed choice about their return on investment if they can't tell from a school's rankings how many of its jobs are permanent and how many are temporary.

Law schools say it's easy to see a breakdown of employment numbers on their websites. And the students and former students we spoke to love the programs. Brian Daner is now working as counsel on Capitol Hill, which he describes as a dream job. He was able to try out on the Hill thanks to a University of Virginia Law School fellowship. After five months, he was hired.

Andrew Beyda is in his final year at George Washington University Law School. He has a job lined up after graduation. But he says if he didn't, he'd be a candidate for his school's employment program. "It's a tough legal market," he says. "Frankly, lawyers aren't retiring or dying nearly fast enough for us to fill their spots."

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Getting A Tattoo Is An Unlikely Rite Of Passage For This Teen

Commentator Katie Davis helped with an unlikely coming of age ceremony for a young man she mentored and tutored for years. She took him to get his first tattoo.
NPR

There Are 200 Million Fewer Hungry People Than 25 Years Ago

That's the good news. The bad news is that there are still 795 million people who don't get enough to eat — and enough nutrients in their food.
WAMU 88.5

Virginia Candidates Spending Big On Consultants, Postage

The political consultants need to get paid, and that direct mail needs postage. Then there's the website and the campaign staff. These are the things candidates in the upcoming Virginia primary are spending big money on.
NPR

Tech Startup Harnesses Virtual Reality For Use In Architecture

A startup company called The Third Fate envisions virtual reality as a way for architects and builders to offer tours of their designs before they're even constructed.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.