Law Schools Now Paying Their Graduates' Salaries To Improve Rankings

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

I knew that the legal market was in bad shape last summer when I came across the story that top law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges announced its first mass layoffs in 82 years, but I had no idea it was this bad.

As most of you will be aware, U.S. News & World Report publishes a widely anticipated ranking of undergraduate as well as graduate schools. I recall how closely my peers scrutinized these rankings back when I was a high school senior and, apparently, a similar obsession continues to this day.

In fact, law schools are so consumed with performing well in these rankings that they are going to outrageous lengths to make it look like their students are performing better financially after graduation than they actually are. One of the most ridiculous ways they achieve this is by paying the salaries of their graduates upon graduation. This way, students can take on employment at non-profits and government agencies, positions they would never otherwise consider in light of their mountains of student debt. In return, their alma maters can pretend their graduates got real jobs. It is the academic equivalent of GM automobile channel stuffing.

This isn’t just a minor trend of one-offs being exaggerated by the media either. For example, George Washington University paid the starting salaries of 22% of its graduates in 2012, while the University of Virginia paid for 15%.

These programs even have a name that reminds me of a financial derivative packed full of worthless securities. These programs are being called “bridge to practice” schemes and according to The Economist “in a recent survey by the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), 45 of the 94 schools that responded now run such programs.”

Now more from The Economist:

EACH YEAR when U.S. News, an American publisher, releases its league table of law schools, potential students seize on it and the universities decry it for oversimplifying a personal and unquantifiable decision. But the schools can ill afford to ignore it, since not just applicants but donors and even credit-rating agencies pay close attention to the scores.


Among the ranking’s most important components is the share of graduates who find jobs. The 2014 table, announced on March 11th, shows that the University of Virginia (UVA) and George Washington University (GW) do especially well on this. Although UVA’s law students are only in ninth place for their scores in standard admission tests, 97.5% of the class of 2012 had a job on graduating—the best mark in the country. At GW the discrepancy was even more striking: its 85% graduate-employment rate ranked ninth, whereas its admission-test scores were 21st.


However, the two schools’ performance is not as stellar as it seems. A close look at the online employment database of the American Bar Association reveals that GW and UVA are among the leaders in a striking trend: law schools paying the salaries of their alumni when they go to work in legal firms, non-profits or the government. GW paid the starting salaries of a whopping 22% of its 2012 graduates; at 15%, UVA was not far behind.


With demand for newly minted lawyers down by around 30%, the schemes spare the alumni from having an awkward gap on their CV, and give them valuable work experience and contacts.


But so long as graduates put on these schemes are lumped in with those who found genuine paid work at law firms, the schools will in effect be buying themselves precious U.S. News ranking spots for a few million dollars a year. And applicants to law school who are considering taking on a six-figure debt will get a misleading picture of the job market.

Seems like law schools have learned a thing or two from the U.S. government and the Federal Reserve about smoke and mirrors.

The scam economy rolls forward.

Full article here.

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Honey Badger's picture

Vendor financiing didn't end well for the dot coms either.

Larry Dallas's picture

You can get a decent US attorney to do just about any type of legal drafting you need on human cloud networks like and for $15/hour.

Its that bad.

krispkritter's picture

I thought I needed one to draft a letter to the County to get them off my ass.  They wanted $2500 in advance and $265 per hour.  Fuck that.  I spent $25k on attorneys for a builder lawsuit a decade ago, fired both attorneys and settled because I never ever got a whiff of a courtroom.  Took it to mediation and got at least some of my money back but that was an expensive lesson.  Frankly we'd be better off with more Docs than dicks in suits...(no offense to any legal-types here).

Rafferty's picture

"...(no offense to any legal-types here)."


What?  You can't be too offensive to these parasites.

BlindMonkey's picture

Please feel free to heap the derision on the "profession" of the law while I'm around.  I have nothing but deep contempt for the so called "officers of the court".  


Esquire=parasitic cocksucker.  (And apologies in advance to any ladies of the evening that take offense and me putting lawyers on equal usefulness and value as anyone of your vocation.)

TideFighter's picture

Overpriced medical care is not the only cause of financial ruin. John Edwards destroyed many companies before greed took him down. The first thing they check before filing their case? Do you have liability insurance? 

centerline's picture

Litigation in most cases stops when the insurance money runs out.

Says alot about how the system works.

g speed's picture

so a beat the system ploy would be to cancel your liability insurance and be free from tort forever after---hmmmm--

Seize Mars's picture

Welcome to central planning. Enjoy.

McMolotov's picture

A bunch of lawyers behaving unethically? Truly a shocking turn of events.

LawsofPhysics's picture


+1000, yeah, completely unexpected.

El Diablo Rojo's picture

Vending Machine Lawyers. 

I might run and ad on Craigs list, offering to higher qualifed applicants from GW for part time home improvement work. 

BlindMonkey's picture

Never hire an ex-lawyer for anything!   They will sue you blind for a papercut. 


Running them out of town tarred and feathered is the only sane option. 

LawsofPhysics's picture

Looks to me like another ponzi became self-aware.

Lawyers and bankers, useless paper-pushing fucks..

Roll the motherfucking guillotines, nothing changes otherwise.

centerline's picture

Next up... MBA's and other assorted business school junk degrees.  Accounting probably spared.

What I would really like to see get kicked in the teeth is advertising/marketing.  

Rafferty's picture

"What I would really like to see get kicked in the teeth is advertising/marketing."


Amen brother.  The worst of the lot, apart maybe from university academics.

MsCreant's picture

Law school as Ponzi scam. Just like my University!

Ignatius's picture

A guy could spend a lifetime shaking out the lies.

Can one get a degree in that?

john39's picture

from the school of hard knocks.

Ignatius's picture

I think my pa said something like that.

JustObserving's picture

GW paid the starting salaries of a whopping 22% of its 2012 graduates; at 15%, UVA was not far behind.

Potemkin law schools - can our economy get more fake? 

Skateboarder's picture

Wait till the underwater basket weaving and alien invasion studies departments start paying for the salaries of the next generation of the unemployed and skill-less.

Pure Evil's picture

Ah, stop picking on the poor souls with degrees in Women's Studies or Queer Theory.

Without these degreed programs from institutions of higher learning we wouldn't have such luminaries as Hillary, Pelosi, Feinstein, Boxer, Shelia Jackson Lee, Maxine Waters, and BHO.

Dr. Venkman's picture

Meh - the schools have been working the rankings since the rankings came about. The formula behind the rankings is laughable. Endowment size and race-based admissions also play a major role as well. WTF that has to do with the practice of law, I do not know. Junk away, top-tierers.

Confused's picture

All the nonsense about rankings aside (who cares, except those looking for schools, me thinks few here), I'm guessing the graduates are paid via endowments? There must be some fund earmarked for this, right? Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but there are rules governing how/when/what the money can be used for. It is certainly interesting. I wonder, as time passes and this scheme continues (ie more grads being paid), how will this affect the schools balance sheet. 

A Lunatic's picture

Bubbles pop and shit gets swept under the rug all the time.........

LawsofPhysics's picture

"there are rules governing how/when/what the money can be used for."- LMFAO!!!

Is that you John Corzine or Hank "tanks in the streets" Paulson?

Dr. Venkman's picture

Judging by the volumes of money-begging shit I get in the mail. . .the schools just have a fund established for this very purpose. Of course, it is cloaked in do-gooder language about enabling the school to give back to the community by encouraging and stipending non-profit work. To your point about the scheme going on ad infinitum - - the schools only care about being able to say that graduates were placed at a job x-days after graduation. They do not need perpetual employment to fudge these numbers.

centerline's picture

They will just raise tuition.  Plenty of room there for some adjustment.  lolololololololololol.

Eastwood's picture

"the schemes spare the alumni from having an awkward gap on their CV". CV?!?!? Who gives a #$%^ about a gap on a worthless piece of paper that no hiring manager looks at anyway. How about the huge gap in a graduate's bank account or more likely lifetime gap in their net worth??? All that matters is who their daddy knows. If no one "important", then #$%^&*! Long live Plutocracy!

Billy Sol Estes's picture

Oh like an internship?

That is cool, no one ever gets the Law right on their first job anyways.

But if you stick with it someday you can move up the ranks and become a well heeled politician.

Seasmoke's picture

WOW.  How many spinning plates are now spinning in the air !!!!!! Everything is an illusion. A big fucking lie. 

IridiumRebel's picture

It's bad. I was going to law school then saw job prospects. Dr IridiumRebel in 3 years by God's grace.

QQQBall's picture

I'm in  a long, drawnout lawsuit. We were billed over $60k one month for phone calls and emails; almost 1/2 million fighting over jurisdiction. Two lawyers discussing your case = $800 charge over lunch. 

Ariadne's picture

Lawyers picked clean the dotcom boom. Its a great racket.

krispkritter's picture

Lawyer was charging me $200 an hour for driving to/from depositions but I could never get him on the phone during these drives.  I said I wanted a copy of his cell phone bill showing date/times of calls and they got all pissy but I stopped payments.  I finally got credited for the hours and they billed me a flat fee after that.  Double-billing shills.

Rafferty's picture

When I sold my tech company the fuckers literally got 20% of the proceeds. And there was nothing unduly complicated.

I am Jobe's picture

How A 29-Year-Old Wunderkind Got Indicted With The Leaders Of An Imploded Law Firm

Read more:

Carl Popper's picture

The only problem with not having enough ambulance chasing jobs is that more of them will decide to go into politics. 

I am Jobe's picture

LaW School Grads should do a year or two in Somalia or Gaza Strip as hookers 

SgtShaftoe's picture

They already are, but their supply is so great they go unpaid!  I was listening to a group of girls having lunch a month ago in a restaraunt.  One girl was going on about going to work for some CIA front NGO unpaid.  Then she broke into tears because she couldn't afford to buy food.  It's a complete fucking mess.

Raging Debate's picture

I wasg oing to say that Sgt. Shaftoe, about oversupply. In general, the country is heavily over regulated to the point it cannot function. Everybody is a lawbreaker prone to fines or lawsuits which are very steep. On the opposite side of the spectrum is the financial system which was completely deregulated and as we know, the biggest heist in human history took place.

Raging Debate's picture

I wasg oing to say that Sgt. Shaftoe, about oversupply. In general, the country is heavily over regulated to the point it cannot function. Everybody is a lawbreaker prone to fines or lawsuits which are very steep. On the opposite side of the spectrum is the financial system which was completely deregulated and as we know, the biggest heist in human history took place.

kchrisc's picture

"A lawyer means that there's someone or something's dead or dying."

What does a subsidized lawyer mean?!


"My guillotine enjoys a good meal of lawyer."

TideFighter's picture


Adolph Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and a lawyer are sitting in a room together.

You have a gun, but only two bullets. Who do you shoot?

Answer: The Lawyer, TWICE. 

rlouis's picture

Some smart recent grad might sue them for fraudulent misrepresentation - or even better; a class action lawsuit.

SgtShaftoe's picture

How do you help an attorney buried to his/her neck in sand?

Get more sand!