Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jobless grads thrown a bone, manipulated

Back in April, the Class of 2010 at my fancypants, first tier toilet law school received an email that read something like this:
3Ls: Graduate Employment Survey

We already have 100+ Graduate Employment Surveys in. Thank you to all of you that have completed your survey.

If you have not yet completed your survey, please log on to Symplicityand visit the Shortcut on the homepage for the Graduate Employment Survey. If you prefer, you may complete a paper version of the survey in the CPDC.

* Your grad survey data is only reported in the aggregate and is required by organizations including the ABA, NALP, and US News & World Report. Please provide complete data and help us advise current students and prospective students about employment options.

Only ~100 out of 303 students in the class bothered to return the employment survey! That sounds awfully close to the class members' own estimates that 2/3 of them have no jobs. I'm sure this small sector of students reporting will have no impact on how the school reports this data to US News and to prospective students. The law is a profession built on honesty, justice, and integrity, which certainly means the school will be forthcoming and let 0Ls know that only 33% of them are going to find gainful employment.

Things must have gone particularly well for these jobless recent graduates over the summer. Having buried their heads in their bar review books, many could probably pretend to ignore looming unemployment and student loan collection monster that was lurking in the corner. Well, the bar exam is over, and now it's back to reality. Time for the school to pull out all the stops before those 200 unemployed grads start getting antsy and making a fuss. Maybe they can even "employ" some of them, for statistical reporting purposes, in the meantime!
PROGRAM DESCRIPTION: The University of Minnesota Law School proudly introduces the Post Graduate Fellowships: Judicial Law Clerks. Up to 5 Fellows will work as judicial law clerks for the Fourth Judicial District for a total of 400 hours at 30 hours a week. The Fellows will receive a total of $5,000, less applicable taxes. Fellowships are for 2010 graduates of the University of Minnesota Law School who have taken the July 2010 Bar Exam. Fellows will be paid with the employees of the Fourth Judicial District. Fellows will receive paychecks with proper withholdings according to the Judicial Districts regularly scheduled payroll process. Fellows will start positions between Sept 1 and Oct 31, 2010.

The University of Minnesota Law School proudly introduces the Post Graduate Fellowships. Fellows will be funded to work in a legal role at a nonprofit or government agency for total of 400 hours (15-30 hours a week); fellows will receive $5000, less applicable taxes. The University will award a limited number of Fellowships. Fellowship money can be used domestically or internationally.

Throwing desperate, starving grads a few thousand bucks and having them work is nothing new. We've seen Duke, SMU, and other law schools unveil similar programs. The motives behind these programs are shady at best. While the schools will defend them as "giving our grads an opportunity in a tough job market," it's no coincidence that these "fellowships" are being tossed out to jobless grads right around the time "employed-at-x-months" data needs to be collected. While Minnesota owned up for the latest round of US News rankings and reported its "employed at graduation" as 83.8% for 2008 grads, we've since suffered through two years of horrible recession. As 2010 graduates themselves would be quick to note, honest reporting of an "employed at graduation" figure in coming issues had better be below 50%.

It's common knowledge that schools game the US News rankings, usually deliberately, but sometimes through what can be written off as sheer incompetence. Thanks to clever ideas like this "fellowship" program, which will move a graduate into the "employed" category, give him a few thousand bucks (after he gave the school $100,000), and then have him out on his ass in another thirteen weeks. The pay is also atrocious during that time ($12.50/hour for licensed attorneys who've passed the bar). And lest an ambitious graduate think that the connections they will make in the state court system will provide a one-way ticket to full-time employment, nasty budget constraints are causing the courts to scale back. Why do you think they are only hiring you as a "fellow," for $5,000 that is paid by the school, and not as a full-time, salaried clerk?

Many hopeless recent graduates will doubtlessly take the school's 30 pieces of silver and sign up for these fellowships. Scammed students can be bought off with enough money to buy a few cases of ramen noodles, and the school gets to continue to fudge its employment numbers in order to rope in the next class of suckers who will turn over $100,000 apiece to the law school. When these 13-week fellowships end, the data will be collected and reported, the graduates will have had plenty of time to "network," and jobless, suffering, scammed graduates are no longer the law school's problem. They have already moved on to swindle the next batch of students. Win-win!



    And this is from the 22nd greatest, most wonderful and amazing law school in the country - according to the all-important USN&WR rankings scheme.

    But the apologist idiots will still chant that "there are not too many law schools out there." Yeah, sure there aren't - and Salma Hayek just jumped me in the back seat of my car.

  2. Remember, low number of responses means your response counts more. Make sure all your grim details are included in their survey.

  3. Just so they can "neglect" to count that grim information, or suffer a "computer error" and lose it?

  4. ThirdTierReality, the salma hayek obsession is a bit much.

    As for the UMinn program, at least they're trying. Other law schools don't even bother to throw any bones at all.

    The pay is pretty bad. But it's better than zero dollars a week. And these kids aren't licensed yet, they're waiting for the bar results. I wonder if any of them will be let go mid-stream if they failed the bar.