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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

ABA Approves New Law School Placement Data Reporting Rules

ABA LogoNational Law Journal, ABA Gives Ground on Law Schools' Graduate Jobs Data Reporting:

The ABA is changing the way it collects graduate employment information from law schools.

The council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar on Dec. 3 approved a new annual questionnaire intended to gather more detailed information about where recent law grads find work. The change came as law students, graduates and three U.S. senators heaped criticism on the ABA and law schools for not providing prospective law students with an accurate picture of graduate employment and salary levels. ...

The updated questionnaire contains several new elements:

  • Law schools will report their graduate employment and salary data directly to the ABA, rather than through the NALP.
  • Graduate employment information will be made available to the public faster. Instead of being published two years after a particular class graduates, the data will be collected earlier in the year and will be made public approximately one year after graduation.
  • Law schools will have to report whether graduates are in jobs funded by the schools, themselves. They will have to stipulate whether graduates are in jobs requiring bar passage; positions for which J.D.s are an advantage; professional positions that do not require a J.D., non-professional positions; and whether jobs are long-term or short-term.
  • Employment and salary information must be reported for each individual graduate rather than in the aggregate, giving the ABA the ability to audit the figures.

The new questionnaire does not include all the changes that transparency advocates have been pushing for. Law School Transparency — a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve consumer data for law students — has called upon the ABA to publish school-specific salary data. That would allow prospective law students to see how much graduates of each school earn. ...

The new questionnaire is an improvement, said Law School Transparency co-founder Kyle McEntee. But the ABA made a mistake by temporarily eliminating some key questions from the 2011 survey, which went out to law schools this fall, he said. That questionnaire did not ask schools to report the number of graduates in the class of 2010 in full- and part-time jobs or in jobs that require a J.D., meaning that less information will be available about the class of 2010 than for previous classes. ... "There are still questions about [the changes] took so long and why it still falls short of providing the best consumer information," McEntee said.


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This seems like more disclosure than you see in the rest of higher education. Mr. McEntee thinks more could be done; but really, people have careers that last for decades and take a lot of twists and turns. This focus on nine month out outcomes is not the be all and end all of disclosure, although it may seem so for recent grads like Mr. McEntee. Plenty of people get high paying jobs and then leave them soon. Plenty of others get a slow start to their career and then pick up.

Posted by: Hugh | Dec 6, 2011 9:18:52 AM