If there is one rule of legal education, it's that prestige matters. Whatever Columbia is doing, Hofstra would be served to follow its path. And so with the recent release of the 2012 employment numbers (see LST here), we can get a closer look of what some law schools are doing to help their graduates excel.
NYU has an employment score of 91.9%.
Virginia has an employment score of 95.4%.
NYLS has an employment score of 39.4%.
Wash. & Lee has an employment score of 49.2%.
Know what the difference is? NYU and Virginia actually want to place their students. How do I know this?
NYU hired back 12% of its class.
Virginia hired back almost 15% of its class.
NYLS hired back only 0.7% of its class.
Wash. & Lee apparently hired back none of its class.
Is this not incredibly simple to figure out? No need to call Poirot on this one. Clearly, if a school is willing to hire back its own students, its sending a signal to the marketplace that the school's graduates are worth hiring. And consequentially, that school reaps an extra benefit in the employment market.
It follows logically, then, that if EVERY law school in the country hired on 12-15% of its class, there would likely be far more than the 12-15% increase in legal employment that would come naturally. There are a ton of firms right now who are unsure of whether to add on staff or not. As a result, if the law schools were to hire back their own graduates and put their money where their mouth is, those employers would certainly start to hire new graduates at the fullest rates possible.
As notorious scamblogger David Lat points out, a school hiring back its own graduates has a number of additional positive benefits and can even lead to things like Appellate Clerkships. They allow graduates to gain experience, which places them in a different class than the following year's graduates and therefore has no effect on the size of the entry-level employment market.
And so I'm absolutely befuddled when I hear people mock law schools hiring recent graduates. Literally, all they do is add full time long-term jobs. Of course, the schools will have to pay excellent wages to compete in a marketplace where 90% of graduates are already finding employment, but the differences in LST's "employment score" (whatever that means), suggest there is still plenty to be gained by paying whatever is necessary to employ some of the school's own graduates.
The people who criticize such things clearly have a vested interest in preventing additional job opportunities. Most likely, such objections come from other legal employers who want to get entry-level salaries much lower than their current 80-100k levels. And so, it is LSTC's official policy to encourage schools to hire back as many graduates as possible at competitive rates.