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U.S. News Employment Data Fails to Satisfy

The 2015 US News and World Report Best Law Schools rankings have been released, which include law school employment data from the Class of 2012. In making its employment calculations, US News gives full weight only to positions that are full-time, long-term (one year or more) where bar passage is required or a JD is an advantage.1 Using this methodology, US News determined that 91.4% of Yale Law School’s Class of 2012 was employed nine months after graduation. If US News continues with this methodology, in next year’s rankings, Yale Law School’s Class of 2013 will be represented by US News as 88.7% employed nine months after graduation.

This one data point generated by US News does not in any way offer a complete picture of the choices available to graduates of Yale Law School, nor of the decisions they make. As a law school, we seek out and support students with extremely varied backgrounds and interests. We provide tools to enable our students to pursue a multidisciplinary course of study and engage in intellectual pursuits of interest to them. It comes as no surprise to us, therefore, when many of our graduates turn down traditional legal employment for different types of opportunities. For example, several of our graduating students each year forego employment altogether to pursue advanced degrees, most often with the goal of being hired as a scholar by a law school. Five graduates in the Class of 2012 (2.3% of the Class) and seven graduates in the Class of 2013 (3.4% of the Class) took that route. Undoubtedly these graduates will secure meaningful employment upon completion of their degree programs. Additionally, several of our graduates each year choose professional positions, often involving policy work or teaching, for which bar passage is not required and which do not fit squarely in the ABA’s definition of "JD Advantage." Seven graduates in the Class of 2012 (3.2% of the Class) and six graduates in the Class of 2013 (3% of the Class) accepted these types of positions. All of these graduates are fulfilling their professional goals and personal aspirations, just not within the strictures of the US News definition of "employed."

Instead of relying on what US News deems important, we encourage you to view the detailed employment statistics provided by YLS. In addition, the ABA website offers access to an Employment Summary for 2012 Graduates for every law school in the country including Yale Law School.

Kelly Voight
Assistant Dean, Career Development Office
Yale Law School

To learn more about the types of positions law graduates accept that fit the ABA’s definition of JD Advantage, NALP has prepared a series of videos highlighting these types of positions. For the Class of 2012, YLS had 21 graduates accept positions classified as JD Advantage, including (among others) finance positions with hedge funds, consulting firms, and investment management firms, and policy positions with the Senate, the White House, and the Treasury Department.