Law School, Hunger Strikes, and Transparency

The blogging world has been abuzz over the “Unemployed JD” scandal that broke out this week. In case you missed it, a blogger named Ethan Haines who runs a blog dedicated to crusading for better transparency on the part of law school when it comes to employment data, actually turned out to be Denver-based Zenovia Evans, an employed 28-year-old graduate of Cooley Law School in Michigan.

While everyone is more hung up on on the fact that Evans tried to rally people around a cause in a disingenuous way, we think that the assumptions behind her demands are somewhat misguided. When Evans (posing as Ethan Haines, an unemployed JD) contacted 10 law schools and told them about “his” crusade, he asked them to commit to new standards of transparency on their job placement statistics and to agree to letting Haines audit their career counseling programs.

Those standards came from another group, calling itself Law School Transparency, which maintains that by misrepresenting or under-reporting their job placement stats, law school essentially dupe students into enrolling under the false impression they will inevitably land lucrative jobs.

Even if Haines/Evans/whatever-we’re-calling-her-now got her way, we’re not sure that it would make much of a difference. We don’t want to give it all away yet, but in a recent survey of law school applicants that Veritas Prep conducted in partnership with Law School Podcaster and PreLaw Magazine, an overwhelming percentage (81%) of respondents said that they would still apply to law school now even if a significant number of law school graduates were unable to find jobs in their desired fields! Further, only 4% said they would not apply to law school at all if they knew job prospects that bad. (We will share the full results of the survey shortly!)

While we certainly will join the crusade against any school that deliberately misleads people and tricks them into applying (*cough*… for-profit online schools, we’re looking your way…), even if schools replaced their glossy web sites with black & white photos of somber, jobless grads, we actually think that many would-be applicants would still apply to law school.

Why? We answer that question with another one: Why not? The reality is that, for many young people, law school (and business school, to some extent) has become an inevitable weight station on the road to real life. Is the economy in shambles? Great! Even more reason to hide out in grad school for two or three years. While the obvious downside is that many of those students will graduate with a nearly insurmountable amount of debt, most of them don’t see it that way. Either Mom and Dad will pick up the tab, or the applicant assumes that the economy will inevitably be better in a couple of years, or they would just not rather think about it today. (Or, even better, maybe Uncle Sam will bail us all out one day! That would be a hoot.)

Don’t get us wrong… Transparency is always a good thing. We’re glad that publications such as U.S. News have recently taken a stand against law schools gaming the rankings by deliberately withholding their employment data. But, for better or worse, we predict young people will keep applying to law school in droves.

For more information on law school admissions, visit our law school admissions site or call us at (800) 925-7737 to speak with an admissions expert. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Photo courtesy of LollyKnit, under a Creative Commons license. And no, that’s not a picture of Zenovia Evans.