Over at The Faculty Lounge blog, Michael Risch (Villanova) dissects a pair of papers that seek to empirically assess whether "law clinic opportunities are likely to improve a school’s graduates’ employment outcomes."
A paper by Jason Yackee (Wisconsin), Does Experiential Learning Improve JD Employment Outcomes?, finds that "there is not much evidence that law schools that provide greater opportunities for skills training have substantially better employment outcomes than do those law schools that provide fewer opportunities.” A subsequent paper by Robert Kuehn (Wash U), Measuring Legal Education's Employment Outcomes, however, concludes that the "expanded empirical analysis finds it is not possible to draw any reliable conclusion from his models about the likely effects of law clinic courses, or other activities like law journal and interschool skills competitions, on employment outcomes, and surely not any negative suggestion about clinic opportunities or participation. The most realistic conclusion from available data is that nationwide models provide inconclusive results, as they do not achieve statistical significance and yield both positive and inverse relationships depending on the year of graduation, control variables, and outliers. In fact, other evidence shows that law clinic experiences are important to potential employers and do aid some students in securing employment."
Setting aside the overheated rhetoric that frequently accompanies discussions about clinical and "experiential" law school offerings, the pair of papers, taken together, illustrates the potential complexities incident to modeling something as complex as legal employment outcomes.