TaxProf Blog

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

Sunday, June 15, 2014

ABA Releases Revised Law School Accreditation Standards, Protocol for Reporting Placement Data

ABA Logo 2Following up on Monday's post, ABA: Law Schools Can Admit 10% of Students Without LSAT, Must Do Annual Audit of Placement Data, Can't Give Academic Credit for Paid Externships

ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar Standards Review Committee, Final Revisions to the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools:

At its meeting in March 2014, the Council approved the vast majority of the revisions that had been circulated for Notice and Comment. In addition, the Council approved several additional matters for Notice and Comment. After reviewing the comments received on the matters circulated for comment in March 2014, the Council made final determinations on the recommendations at its meeting on June 6, 2014.

The complete set of revisions is scheduled to be reviewed by the ABA House of Delegates in August 2014 in accordance with House Rule 45.9. The House may either concur with the Council’s decisions or refer a proposed change back to the Council for further consideration. Any reference back to the Council must include a statement setting forth the reasons for the referral. A decision by the Council is subject to a maximum of two referrals back to the Council by the House. The decision by the Council following the second referral is final.

The Standards and Rules will become effective immediately upon concurrence by the House of Delegates in August. Although the Standards will be effective in August, there will be a phase-in period for some Standards and a delay in implementation. A timeline and more detailed information about the implementation of the revised Standards and Rules of Procedure will be available this fall.

ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, Protocol for Reviewing Law Graduate Employment Data, and Statement of Procedures for Collecting, Maintaining, and Reporting Law Graduate Employment Data (June 9, 2014):

I. Protocol for Reviewing Law Graduate Employment Data.
This Protocol addresses the review of law graduate employment data reported to the ABA or presented to the public. There will be four types of reviews:
(A) Standard 509 Website Compliance Review: All law schools accredited by the ABA will be subject to this type of review.
(B) Random School Review: At least 10 law schools each year will be selected at random for this type of review.
(C) Random Graduate Review: Random reviews will be conducted on a statistically sound sample of graduates drawn from the population of all graduates of ABA accredited law schools.
(D) “Red Flag” Review: Red Flag Reviews will be conducted of schools as provided in paragraph D below. ...

II. Statement of Procedures for Collecting, Maintaining and Reporting Law Graduate Employment Data.
This Statement sets forth instructions and guidelines for law schools in collecting, maintaining, reporting, and publishing graduate employment data. In order for the ABA to effectively review reported graduate employment outcomes data, law schools must maintain accurate, contemporaneous, and verifiable documentation that supports them.

III.  Timetable for Section Graduate Employment Data Reviews.



Employment Status Determination Date

March 15

Employment Outcomes Reporting Submissions Due to ABA

April 7

Law schools to send links to ABA of URLs of website pages with Employment Summary Reports

April 15

Law schools subject to Red Flag Review identified by ABA

May 15

ABA to notify law schools of results of Website Compliance Review

May 15

Law schools subject to Random School Review identified by ABA

May 15

Graduates to be included in Random Graduate Review Identified by ABA

May 15

Graduate Employment Files due to Section for Random School Review

May 30

Graduate Employment Files due to ABA for Random Graduate Review

May 30

ABA to notify law schools of results of Random Graduate Review

August 15

ABA to notify law schools of results of Random School Review

August 15

Additional reviews pursuant to Red Flag Review protocols and outside consultant reports due

September 30

IV.  Evaluation.
An evaluation of the efficacy of this Protocol and Statement will be undertaken by the Data Policy and Collection Committee for the Council no later than three years after its adoption.

Legal Education | Permalink


This issue has become so important that the ABA should really audit at least 20% of member schools every year. What do they have to do that is more important.

Furthermore, the LSAC should required applicants to view employment statistics for every school they apply to on the screen before they can submit the application.

If they did this, then law schools would be done with the criticisms foreever. Anyone who enrolled would know exactly what they were getting into. Of course, they won't because the whole thing is a racket designed to extract as much federal government loan money as possible from naive youths.

Posted by: JM | Jun 16, 2014 6:51:43 AM

I've commented on the prior thread about how ineffective the draft version of the protocol would be for uncovering systemic fraud on the part of a law school. That stuff hasn't changed in the final draft, nor does the final draft spell out any penalties should the ABA (somehow) find systemic fraud by a law school.

However, the final version of the protocol does feel the need to take a swing at fed up graduates who want to wash their hands of their alma maters: "By failing to respond to requests from their schools for employment data, either in whole or in part, graduates fail in their obligations to their schools and to the legal profession as a whole. Graduates should promptly, accurately, and completely respond to their law schools’ requests for employment information and should provide updated contact information so that their schools can collect, update, or confirm employment data throughout the employment data reporting period."

Posted by: Former Editor | Jun 16, 2014 8:26:25 AM

@Former Editor,

Didn't you know? It was nonreporting alumni who FORCED law schools to claim "95% employed at graduation at $160,000 average!" for all those years.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Jun 16, 2014 12:46:15 PM

Correction: Upon closer inspection, the revision actually makes it EVEN MORE difficult for the ABA to detect systemic fraud. In the draft, to trigger a level 2 review (the lowest level of review where the ABA actually verifies the accuracy of the information in a school's files) more than 2% of a school's files had to be "found to be deficient." In the final protocol that number was raised to 5%.

Also, a level two review is now slightly more searching than in the draft, but easier to pass. If a school manages to end up in this level of review (an event that is unlikely without substantial incompetence in my view) the percentage of the class whose employment status the ABA will seek to verify rose from 10% to 20% between the draft and final. Of course, the number of confirmed mistakes in this sample to trigger the next level of review also went up from 2% to 5% (or 3 students if the school has a graduating class under 60).

Posted by: Former Editor | Jun 16, 2014 12:49:11 PM