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Friday, February 22, 2013

ABA Seeks to Hire Law School Data Cop

ABA Logo 2National Law Journal:  ABA Seeks Help Monitoring Law Graduate Employment Statistics:

The ABA is in the market for a law school data cop. The organization's Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has put out a request for proposals for a process by which it can better police the postgraduate employment data that law schools release.

"We want to know, if we wanted to audit a school's employment data or force schools to give us an audit, how would you do that? What would it look like?" said Barry Currier, the ABA's interim consultant on legal education. "Maybe we would look at how law schools go about collecting their employment data, but we're not really sure right now how that would be done."

The request for proposals is the ABA's latest effort to boost confidence in the data that it requires law schools to release each year. Those efforts came after two schools [Illinois and Villanova] were found to have inflated their admissions data and amid broad skepticism over the veracity and comprehensiveness of graduate jobs data. Graduates have sued 15 law schools around the country alleging that they inflated employment data, and critics have faulted the ABA for not keeping a close eye on schools' numbers. ...

ABA officials believe that a partnership with the Law School Admission Council—which administers the LSAT and tracks law school applicant data—has thoroughly addressed any potential problems with the reporting of admissions figures and made it impossible for schools to fudge their numbers. For the first time this year, the council analyzed the LSAT scores and grades of new students at individual law schools to ensure the reported averages are correct. That process is in its final stages and the ABA may soon release those figures, Currier said. ...

"We're comfortable that the admissions piece of this is taken care of, so now we're looking at what can be done about employment data," Currier said. Unlike admissions data, there is no centralized source of law graduate jobs data—which the schools themselves sometimes struggle to compile. So the ABA is seeking guidance from experts. The organization last year adopted more detailed postgraduate jobs reporting requirements, which has complicated the reporting process for law schools and made oversight tougher. "Eventually, we would like to get to a place where the data schools are giving us doesn't cause us to sit back and say, 'OK, what's the new game schools are playing?' " Currier said.

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