Washington Post: Law School Deans Push ABA About Transfers, by Catherine Ho:
A growing group of law school deans are pressing the American Bar Association’s accrediting agency to require law schools to make public the LSAT scores and undergraduate grade-point averages of transfer students.
At issue is what many legal educators say is an effort by some schools to keep the data hidden in order to inflate their credentials for rankings purposes.
Because U.S. News and World Report’s law school rankings look at the median LSAT scores of first-year students, but not the LSAT scores of transfer students — which are typically lower — critics contend the practice allows the schools to game the system.
The ABA’s accrediting council has yet to officially vote on the proposal, but at a March 14 meeting, members indicated they did not think the LSAT scores and undergraduate GPA of transfer students is “relevant consumer information” that needs to be disclosed, said Barry Currier, managing director of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. ...
Law schools have long disclosed how many transfer students they admit every year, per an ABA accreditation standard. But they do not have to disclose much detail about those students, even though they are required to collect the information.
At the meeting, the council did accept a recommendation that schools should start disclosing the first-year law school grade-point average of their transfer students, which schools the transfer students came from and how many came from each school. ...
In the Washington area, the law schools with the most transfer students in 2013 were Georgetown (122 transfer students in, seven transfers out); George Washington (93 transfers in, 22 transfers out); and American (68 transfers in, 89 transfers out). Other area schools saw less transfer activity: George Mason (12 transfers in; 11 transfers out); Catholic (eight transfers in, 23 transfers out); Howard (five transfers in, four transfers out); and the University of the District of Columbia (five transfers in, 12 transfers out). ...
Dan Polsby, the dean of George Mason Law, said that although he loses students to other schools, he is not against the idea of a student wanting to transfer to a higher-ranked school.
“Some of my brother and sister deans hate the idea of transfers and think they should be discouraged,” he said. “I have the exact opposite view. It isn’t crazy to want to transfer from George Mason to George Washington ... People try to do better for themselves if they can. I’m a businessman,” he continued. “It’s a world in which sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets you.”