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More comedy stylings from Prof. Steve Diamond

[ 17 ] January 19, 2013 |

Updated below

Compare this with this.

Steve Diamond links to a 2010 employment report (describing outcomes for the class of 2008 as of February 2009) that any ordinary reader would understand to be reporting a 99% employment rate for graduates of the law school at which he teaches, in order to argue that Santa Clara wasn’t posting misleading 90%+ employment figures even before the law school transparency movement started demanding a little transparency.

His rationale for this amazing rhetorical feat is this:

Here is what SCU posted in the Fall of 2008 about employment. If one compares it with what we now post, in response to the new ABA guidelines, it seems to me there is not a dramatic difference. The much vaunted “bi-modal” distribution is clearly visible as is the fact that only about half the class reported salaries (from which any rational individual could conclude that that only half had employment at that point).

This is so nonsensical it’s hard to know where to begin. The first linked set of statistics gives no indication that it isn’t a comprehensive account of what the class of 2008 is doing nine months after graduation. There’s no category for unemployed graduates; indeed there’s no way to tell from this data how many SCU graduates are unemployed, how many are in short-term or part-time jobs, or how many are in jobs that require bar admission.

By contrast the second linked set of stats, which SCU was reluctantly forced to cough up by the equally reluctant Section of Legal Education of the ABA in the wake of pressure from the transparency movement, reveals that 24% of the 2011 SCU class is completely unemployed, although supposedly two-thirds of these people– 47 graduates out of 296! — aren’t actually seeking jobs (the latter purported “fact” is the kind of thing that ought to be of intense interest to potential plaintiffs’ attorneys).

Update: SCU’s reported number of 47 graduates not seeking employment was by far the highest of any law school for the class of 2011. For all schools, the mean number of graduates purportedly not seeking employment was five, and only two other schools had even half as many graduates listed as unemployed not seeking as SCU. Last year US News started counting graduates listed as unemployed not seeking as simply unemployed, because of widespread suspicions that a few schools were manipulating the category to produce a better putative employment rate for their graduates).

Update II: SCU’s extremely suspicious practice of categorizing a huge percentage of its graduates as unemployed not seeking was not a one-year thing, as it listed 55 members of the class of 2010 in this category. Again, as in 2011, this was by far the highest number of any law school (Second place went to Thomas M. Cooley, with 32. Cooley’s graduating class was three times larger than SCU’s however). All this suggests that perhaps Prof. Diamond could find a better example of law school transparency than his own institution.

Even more incredibly, Diamond’s rationalization for SCU failing to reveal any unemployment data for the class of 2008 as of February 2009 is that “only about half the class reported salaries (from which any rational individual could conclude that that only half had employment at that point).” Apparently “any rational individual” is a term of art for “someone who has no idea what he’s talking about,” i.e., the author, who hasn’t noticed that the percentage of the SCU class of 2008 which SCU reported to the ABA and NALP as being “employed” in February 2009 is readily available. That percentage is 92.6%.

In sum, despite Diamond’s assertion that he can’t find any evidence that SCU was publishing claims of 90+% employment rates for its graduates, the very evidence he cites for this assertion shows that in 2010 SCU appeared to claim a 99% employment rate on its web site. The school also reported a 92.6% “employment” rate to the regulatory authorities, which was then reprinted in US News. Lest we forget, even the marginally lower latter figure was almost wholly fictitious, as it:

(a) Excluded from the denominator graduates the school characterized as “unemployed not seeking” (a category which includes 16% of the 2011 class!);

(b) Excluded people pursuing further education; and, most crucially,

(c) Included every possible form of employment, from working at Latham & Watkins to working ten hours per week at Starbucks.

  • DanMulligan

    It is stunning that he can post “Hence my description of the “scam/failing law schools” crowd as engaged in tendentious argumentation.” because …. “instead of looking for concrete ways to help the tens of thousands of law school graduates burdened by a combination of unemployment, underemployment and debt, they continue to blame the law schools.”

    So, you are lying because you pointed out their lies, instead of giving jobs to their poor grads.

    BTW: Who pays those fees and then is “not seeking” any employment just a short time later?

    • Paul Campos

      The “unemployed not seeking” data is collected by NALP to account for people who for some reason are neither employed or seeking a job nine months after graduation. Of course there are rare instances in which someone is genuinely in this situation, but the modal percentage reported by schools for graduates in this category is zero and the median percentage is less than one percent.

      Until last year US News was calculating overall employment nine months after graduation by excluding anyone listed as unemployed not seeking from the denominator of total graduates. This encouraged some schools to engage in what certainly appears to be fraudulent mischaracterization in order to boost their reported employment rate. Leading this category in 2011 was none other than Prof. Diamond’s own law school, which reported almost one out of every six graduates was unemployed not seeking.

      Sadly for SCU, US News changed its reporting method last year, and is now counting unemployed not seeking as part of the unemployment rate for graduates.

      • I assume that a number of professors at SCU are aware of this public melt down. How is it that no one has told him to cut this shit out?

        The only situation that makes sense is he’s extremely unpopular and his colleagues are keeping mum just to watch the train wreck continue to pile up.

        • ChrisTS

          I’m happy to say this had not occurred to me. My assumption was that they were all paralyzed by embarrassment.

          On the other hand, I find your explanation nastily amusing.

          • Pestilence


      • (the other) Davis

        Of course there are rare instances in which someone is genuinely in this situation, but the modal percentage reported by schools for graduates in this category is zero and the median percentage is less than one percent.

        But SCU’s higher number here makes complete sense. As Prof. Diamond has explained, going to SCU makes you as employable as going to Stanford. So most of those people who are still unemployed nine months out must not really be looking—SCU “adjusts” the numbers accordingly.

    • Law Spider

      BTW: Who pays those fees and then is “not seeking” any employment just a short time later?

      Most often, people (read: primarily women) (1) whose parents paid for school, (2) who then (or had already) married someone making far more than they were likely to make; and (3) who decided to have children immediately.

      Both my sister and I (both lawyers) each knew a person like that (not stupid women, FWIW). And it annoyed the crap out of us that this person took a law school spot away from someone who might have wanted to use the degree. Then again, that was back when people had a chance of getting jobs. Now it’s probably better that this person prevents someone else from racking up the debt.

  • West of the Cascades

    Just for shits and giggles and because the Latham website lets you search its attorney directory by school — L&W employs 47 graduates of Stanford Law and 8 graduates of Santa Clara Law.

  • djw

    Not quite as embarrassing as his argument that Tamanaha’s proposed reforms reveal him to be an agent of “capital” and an enemy of the rule of law.

  • DrDick

    Well, it is now easy to see how the law school dean earns his exorbitant salary.

  • sancarlosian

    when you analyze santa clara, you need to remember that they have a slice of engineers and techie types who get hired quickly by elite firms that do IP litigation. (if your firm does patent litigation and you interview someone at santa clara who has a masters in EE and who worked for semi-conductor companies for eight years, you make an offer.) for santa clara students who are not in that group, the stats are even worse.

  • Scott Lemieux

    To many in this debate it seems that the only concept of “success” is to work at Wachtell Lipton as opposed to a public defenders’ office.

    Oddly, the data showing how many SCU grads get jobs as public defenders, and whether they allow students to pay back their loans, are omitted.

    • I think this is response to my post about Diamond’s claim that a student choosing between Stanford and SCU would have the same opportunities graduating from either. I noted that none of the Vault 5 attend SCU’s OCI.

      He would be right if he was arguing that prestigious BigLaw jobs are not the only measure of success. But, he was arguing that they’d have the same opportunities. They might still have some good opportunities, but this is one opportunity that is not available, and thus they do not have the same ones.

      It’s very characteristic of Diamond to make an assertion, be proven wrong, and then argue a completely different point that just happens to use some of the same words as the first argument, and pretend it’s the same point.

      I really do pity his students if he behaves this way in class.

  • randi

    How can we find out why Santa Clara lapped the nation in the category that just so happens to shrink the denominator?

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