Nine-Month Job Stats Don't Measure Value of Law Degree, Retiring Dean Says

The news media is underestimating the value of a law degree, according to America’s longest-serving law dean.

You can’t measure the value of a law degree by your job at graduation, or even your job nine months later, according to Rudy Hasl, who will retire in June as dean of Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego. Hasl has served as a law dean for 32 years in positions at four different schools, making him the longest-serving U.S. law dean. He outlined his views for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

The negative news coverage has caused potential law school applicants to question whether they should invest in a legal education, Hasl said. The recent period has been “tumultuous” for law schools, he said, and the issues are “a little more difficult” than previous bottoming-out periods. But he still sees merit in a law degree.

“I remind students that what law schools are providing is a set of skills that are valued in our society and that will ultimately lead to a meaningful employment opportunity,” Hasl said. “That could be in business, in the political arena, or in traditional law-firm settings. I was a classics major, and there’s no market directly for someone in classics, but it’s a foundational training that hopefully makes one better at analyzing problems and articulating a position.”

Hasl’s school was recently in the news when a former assistant career services director there said her supervisor pressured her to inflate job statistics for 2006 grads. Hasl told the ABA Journal the allegations are a “crock of crap” and school data submitted to the ABA was accurate.

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