Monday, July 8, 2013
Brian Leiter (Chicago) reports that the ABA Council of the Section on Legal Education and Admission to the Bar voted at its June 7 meeting to eliminate the requirement that law schools report their expenditures to the ABA as part of the annual questionnaire (expenditures will be reported only as part of the sabbatical site visit process). As Joe Biden would say, this is a very big deal. Expenditures Per Student (9.75%) and Financial Aid Per Student (1.5%) are significant components of the U.S. News rankings methodology. Because these are the only data not disclosed by U.S. News, Tom Bell, Ted Seto, and others have long argued that this is where the bulk of law school chicanery occurs. Indeed, with the recent tightening of placement data reporting (18% in the U.S. News methodology), most suspected that even more manipulation would occur in the expenditures black box. Brian concludes:
It very much remains to be seen how US News will respond to this change and whether it will nonetheless continue to request such information from law schools (thereby, among other things, imposing an additional reporting burden on law schools that the ABA has now lifted). In my view, the optimal outcome would be for US News to stop asking for expenditure information altogether. ... [W]ithout the ABA collecting this data, U.S. News will have no check on the accuracy of what schools report; if they don't drop expenditures, this will just open up a new avenue for "creative" reporting and fraud. If they do drop it, as they should have long ago, expect to see Yale lose its #1 spot, expect to see NYU drop, and expect to see state schools like Hastings and Wisconsin rise.