Some of you may remember that a year ago Paul Campos and NYU got into a pissing match over the number of graduates NYU was sending to BigLaw positions. Here's a bit from NYU's response:
Focusing on 2010 data, Campos notes (accurately) that NYU reported 296 of our 2010 graduates going to work for law firms, with 91% going to firms with more than 250 attorneys. He then estimates that NYU Law would have placed 273 of these graduates at NLJ 250 firms. “In fact, the school placed 209,” he writes. In fact? The source of Campos’s certitude is a chart the NLJ publishes each year that purports to show how many first-year associates each law school sends to the NLJ 250. To gather its data, the NLJ contacts each of the NLJ 250 law firms. But not all release this information. NLJ editor-in-chief David Brown told NYU Law that in this year's survey, the results of which he just published, 71 of these 250 firms provided no school-specific 2011 hiring data. And, if a firm didn’t participate and a law school declined to say how many graduates it sent to that firm, the NLJ simply recorded that as a zero. “If we didn’t have information from the law firm or the law school, we didn’t publish information we didn’t have,” Brown said. Presto: a sizeable group of entry-level lawyers vanish into the ether.
NYU then invited Campos to come inspect their books, knowing damned well that Colorado isn't one of New Yorks boroughs. Law School Transparency asked NYU to publish their NALP report, which was met with a response to go fuck themselves.
Something in the internal workings at NYU has changed, because the school recently did decide to publish their NALP report, though it's for the class of 2011, not 2010, so it doesn't speak at all to the dispute between NYU and Campos. (And wouldn't really have done so anyways, because the law firm size categories NALP uses are not the same as the NLJ 250 division.)
Now that we do have NALP data though, let's take a look at it.
If NYU was being honest that in 2010, 91% of students (in private practice) were at NLJ 250 firms, then 2011 was one helluva bad year. Only 70% found jobs in firms of 501+ attorneys. Another 10.8% landed in 250-500 attorney firms. That's only 80.8% in big firms, a drop of 10 percentage points. ...Okay, it's not quite that simple. NLJ250 firms dip down into the mid-100s in size, but that won't affect NYU's numbers too much. 2.9% of students in private practice were in 101-250 attorney firms; some of them NLJ250, but perhaps some of them not.
Amazingly, of the 201 grads at firms with at least 101 attorneys, NYU managed to track down 200 salaries. Either NYU's CSO has a tight relationship with their students, or they're engaging in the relatively widespread practice of filling in information that students don't provide. You can figure out on your own the problems with that.
...Or if you can't: Not all of the NLJ250 pay the "market" rate of $160,000, and not all firms paying $160,000 pay that rate at all of their offices. For instance, Warner Norcross & Judd based in Grand Rapids, MI, the 185th largest firm pays $100,000. #168, Roseland, NJ's Lowenstein Sandler pays $140,000. Davis, Wright, Tremaine pays $140,000 in LA, $145,000 in San Francisco, $120,000 in Seattle, and $110,000 in Portland. Morgan, Lewis, & Bockius, the 14th largest US firm, pays $145,000 in Philadelphia,
K&L Gates, the 8th largest firm, pays $160,000 in LA and Boston, but $105,000 in Harrisburg, PA.
It's not hard to imagine someone in the career services office seeing K&L Gates listed as the firm, the salary field left blank, and filling in $160,000 without investigating further.
One other thing stands out on NYU's NALP report, and that is the number of graduates listed as earning $24,000. That figure was listed as the 25th percentile for all public sector jobs, the 50th percentile for government work (a subset of public sector), the 25th percentile for business jobs, the 75th percentile for business jobs requiring bar passage, and the 25th percentile at law firms of 2-10 attorneys.
Given the exact sameness of these salaries, and that NYU provides funding for 12% of its grads jobs, it's safe to say that $24k is the going rate for NYU funding. Most of these jobs are public interest and government, which means that the students should also be receiving loan repayment assistance. And NYU's LRAP is known for being extremely generous. ...Except that you don't get it just for working one year. You have to work in a qualified public interest position for 10 years. If the funding for your current position is coming from NYU, you may find it hard to stay in the program, especially since unpaid positions don't count.
And in addition to people falling out of LRAP eligible jobs, there are at least 4 people in business and 2 in private practice who are probably getting their $24k and no help with their loans.