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I am a big picture person. In my last column I talked about using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator with law students. I am an ENFJ type — Extroverted/Intuitive/Feeling/Judging. ENFJs love people. Details are not our strong suit. After surviving calculus during my freshman year of college, I vowed that, other than balancing my checkbook and paying the rent on time, I would have as little as possible to do with numbers. Before I started my current job at Northwestern University, I had worked for deans and associate deans who were happy with the career office if we received positive reviews from the students and the placement numbers for the graduating class were good. The only numbers I really had to deal with were the annual NALP reporting statistics on the class from the previous year (which magically turned into the ABA numbers and then into the U.S. News & World Report numbers) and even then I only had to review the final figures. While I tracked down the students, the actual crunching was done by people on my staff. During my first week at Northwestern, my boss, the associate dean, mentioned in passing “You might want to take a class in Excel.” My stomach clenched and my palms grew sweaty. I had arrived in the land of the spreadsheet. Each month, I was told, I would prepare a detailed agenda for a meeting with the associate dean and the dean to go over our placement statistics — not just where we were in relation to the past year’s annual numbers but where we were precisely a year before (comparing, for example, March 2005 with March 2004) in a number of areas: stats on the most recent graduating class, the current 3Ls (permanent jobs) and 2Ls (summer placements) and numbers of clerkships (applicants and recipients). These numbers were to be broken down by JD students overall, transfer students, 2-year JD students (an international student program), and JD/MBA students. In addition, I was to report on the placement numbers for our LLM programs (U.S. v. international placements for international students) and our tax program by full-time, part-time and joint degree. “Can’t I just counsel students?” I asked, plaintively. In addition to meetings with the dean and annual reporting, I also present statistical information to the faculty and to our alumni Law Board. The Law Board presentations cover the percentage of growth in the legal market in different regions of the country, salary increases, number of on-campus interview employers and job fair employers as compared with previous years, percentages of employers from different regions, numbers of clerkships (applicants, applications, judges and recipients), in addition to a spreadsheet featuring ten years of historical data on our placement by class in terms of job type, geographical location, and U.S. News placement rankings for at-graduation and nine-months percentages. Early on in my time here, I was introduced to Performance Goals: numerical goals for the placement of upcoming classes at graduation, nine months after graduation, summer placements for 1Ls and 2Ls, geographical breakdown of placements, clerkships (applicants and clerkships obtained) and LLM placement (both international and tax). Yikes! Not only current numbers but future numbers! Most of the numbers do tie in with the rankings. Our dean is a big fan of benchmarking in general as a method for determining how we are doing on both micro and macro levels. His point is that you can’t tell how well you are doing without both internal and external data. Over time, I do seem to be getting a handle on all the numbers (or at least a better one). And, amazingly, I have become a convert. Are the spreadsheets still a pain? Yes. Have I come to love the numbers? Well, at least I appreciate them. Have I become an expert at discussing bi-modal distributions and plotting graphs? No. But there is a part of me that revels in being able to know on any given day, exactly (or almost exactly) how many folks in each class are seeking employment and what types of jobs they are seeking. I know how many have taken jobs in the various practice types as well as the geography. And I know how many 3Ls are in the market this January as opposed to last. One spreadsheet tracks the employment history of each student in each class from 1L summer to nine months after graduation. We know how many of our students come from outside the Midwest and how many are taking jobs outside the Midwest. We know how many students attended our Meet the Employers Night and how many attend each program. All of these numbers are comparative with prior years as of the same date. What a sense of control! And I think knowing the numbers is important in terms of our mission as a career center. While they do not tell the whole story, the numbers do provide some assurance that we are on the right track and are helpful in planning for the future. Perhaps best of all, the numbers provide hard evidence of all we are accomplishing. William A. Chamberlain is assistant dean, Law Career Strategy and Advancement, Northwestern University School of Law.

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