Paul L. Caron

Thursday, July 28, 2011

ABA Approves Reforms to Law School Placement Data Reporting

ABA Logo The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar yesterday announced that it had approved changes to its annual law school questionnaire to require disclosure of more placement data (details here):

[T]he 2011 Annual Questionnaire will request from law schools information on their graduates’ employment status, employment types and employment locations. It will also request additional and new information on whether a graduate’s employment is long-term or short-term. Finally, it will ask how many, if any, positions held by their graduates are funded by the law school or university.

New data will also be collected in the spring of 2012 (soon after February 15, 2012, the traditional nine-month-after-graduation date), for the graduating class of 2011, including whether the graduate’s job is part-time or full-time; whether the job requires bar passage; whether a J.D. is preferred for the job; whether the job is in another profession; and whether the job is a nonprofessional one. Definitions for these categories will be developed this coming fall. However, rather than wait until August 2012 to collect these new data, our plan is to collect those data from the schools soon after February 15, 2012 and display the data on our website in the late spring/early summer.

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As a retired tax lawyer and corporate VP I must say that gong to law school no longer makes sense financially, particularly if the student incurs debt to do so. When I was graduated in the '70's an attorney could be assured of a reasonably stable income (slowly rising as his practice matured) and job security. I do not believe either is true now and the net present value calculation (foregone income for 3 three years plus loans incurred) suggests a graduate may never earn it back. Accurate placement data will discourage applicants--as the truth should. And universities may (hopefully) quit looking at law schools as "profit centers" with little regard as to how their graduates fair in life.

Posted by: PalmettoBuckeye | Jul 28, 2011 7:17:15 PM

Since transparency is now regarded as important, perhaps the ABA could also require law schools to provide information revealing the percentage of its preferentially admitted students who graduate and who pass the bar.

Posted by: John Rosenberg | Jul 28, 2011 3:50:31 PM