Are they all lying? Or just careless—conveniently so?

Maybe we’ve all been too snobby, assuming that only low-ranking law schools cook their employment data to reel in gullible students. So far, at least, it’s the lower-tier schools like New York Law School and Cooley Law School that are getting hit with class action suits by former students for promulgating false job data.

But here’s the shocker: Even top schools like Columbia and NYU (number four and number six, respectively, in the latest U.S. News and World Report) may be playing fast and loose with their job numbers. Both schools had to “revise” their stats after The New York Post asked them for detailed information.

Reports The New York Post:

After an inquiry by the Post, Columbia Law School last week published a spate of new data detailing its employment rate, which dropped from a previously reported National Association for Law Placement’s 98.6 percent level to 96.5 percent.

That “new data” seems like stuff that should have been included in the first place, such as information about the number of jobs that “require bar admission, the percentage of students reporting salary information, and that all the jobs reported are full-time positions.” Moreover, Columbia failed to provide a breakdown about school-funded jobs—a device other schools use, notes the Post, “to temporarily boost the percentage of students employed for the ABA survey.”

NYU had similar lapses :

NYU Law School—which also revised its numbers after the Post contacted it—revealed that 38 students in the class of 2010 counted as employed held temporary positions paid by the school. Students earned $2,000 a month, and the positions lasted between three and six months.

I understand mistakes happen, but mislabeling 38 students?

University of Colorado Law School professor Paul Campos, the blogger behind Inside the Law School Scam, also tells the Post that he noticed major “discrepancies between the number of students reported by Columbia to have gotten Big Law jobs . . . and those counted in a corresponding report by The National Law Journal.” He says:

“According to Columbia, somewhere between 285 and 298 of its 2010 graduates were working for the top NLJ 250 firms. NLJ 250 firms reported only 239 of the 2010 Columbia grads working for such firms. This is not, needless to say, a trivial discrepancy,” he posted on his blog. Campos approximated a similar difference in the case of NYU.

New York’s other major law school, Fordham (#29 in U.S. News), didn’t get caught in quite the same way, though it won’t get an award for transparency either: “Fordham Law School includes a footnote, in fine print, that 14.7 percent of its employment was comprised of school-funded jobs,” writes the Post.

All of this left me wondering just how reliable employment data is from any law school—and whether that list of schools that’s been sued by graduates for fraud might eventually include the top schools too. So let me ask you this: Do you think your law school “doctors” job data—or anything else?

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