TaxProf Blog

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

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

ABA Releases 2014 Law School Standard 509 Information Reports

ABA Logo 2The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar has released the 2014 Standard 509 Information Reports for all ABA-accredited law schools.  The reports contain a wealth of data for each school, including:

  • Tuition and Living Expenses
  • Conditional Scholarships
  • J.D. Enrollment and Ethnicity
  • Admissions (applications, offers, matriculants, 75/50/25 GPA and LSAT Scores)
  • Grants and Scholarships
  • J.D. Attrition and Transfers In
  • Curriculum
  • Faculty and Administrators
  • Bar Passage Rates

David Frakt (Barry), What Would Really Useful Law School Consumer Data Look Like?:

I propose that each law school be required to have a calculator on their website which would provide customized, tailored predictors of success to all prospective students.  Each law school would be required to maintain a master database which tracked every law student who matriculated.  The database would include the students undergraduate GPA (UGPA) and LSAT score.  The database would track whether the student was academically attrited, voluntarily left school, transferred to another law school, or graduated.  The database would also track each student who reported taking the bar and whether they passed on their first or a subsequent attempt.  Of course, law schools are already collecting most, if not all, of this data already.   What I propose is that this data be made available to prospective students through the personal success calculator.  Here's how it would work: the prospective student would plug in their UGPA and LSAT score into the calculator, and the school's website would then provide a customized personal report describing the experience of similarly qualified students, which I would define as those within +/- 1 point on the LSAT and +/- .10 UGPA.  So, if a student entered a UGPA of 3.0 and an LSAT of 150, the website would provide the following information:

"Over the last 7 years, we have matriculated x# of students with similar entrance credentials to your own, defined as those with a UGPA of 2.9 to 3.1 (+/- .10 from your self-reported UGPA) and an LSAT of 149-151 (+/- 1 point of your self-reported LSAT score).

Of these x# of students, # were academically attrited (failed), # voluntarily dropped out, # transferred to another ABA-accredited law school, # are still enrolled (as of the beginning of the most recent semester) and # have graduated, earning their Juris Doctor degree.  Of the # that graduated, # reported taking the bar at least once.  Of these #, # passed the bar on their first attempt, for a first-time bar passage rate of x%.  An additional # who failed on their first attempt passed on a subsequent attempt."

In addition to making this data available on their websites, this individualized data should be required to be included in all offers of admission sent to any applicant.   Thus, a student admitted to multiple schools could actually compare how students with similar entrance credentials have fared at each of the schools to which they were admitted, providing the prospective student with some meaningful basis for choosing among competing offers of admission.   The raw numbers would also provide some potentially useful information. For example, schools that were admitting students with lower entrance credentials than they had accepted in the past might have little, if any, data on the success rate of students with similar entrance credentials.  Knowing that a school had little, if any, experience, in helping students at their talent level to succeed in law school would be very useful for an applicant to know.

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Comments

My goodness, the data are bad this year!

Ave Maria's 25% LSAT percentage is a 139? So, 1 in 4 students has an LSAT score below 139 at Ave Maria?

At what point does the ABA step in to stop the hemorrhaging here? When do the law faculty urge reform? When you start to dip below 145, you're not getting people whose lives will be improved from knowledge of law. You're getting students who are debt-funding a life altering burden sold in the guise of a dream. Come on, guys. That's not right.

Posted by: Jojo | Dec 10, 2014 1:46:54 PM

So, let's see: "The median rent in the Boston metro area has jumped 87.5 percent in four years, according to Zillow.com — from $1,200 in 2010 to $2,250 last May." http://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/2014/06/28/luxury-complexes-all-bells-and-whistles/bGBdKRlaW9ksYs39lWxANI/story.html

Meanwhile, according to Northeastern's 509's:

2011 housing allowance: $19,500
2014 housing allowance: $19,500

Gee, are we shirking the students on their unavoidable cost of living increases to make our cost of attendance marginally more palatable? Perhaps the students can just rent from the slumlord profiled in a Boston Globe Investigation this spring - a fellow who Northeastern pays millions of dollars every year to lease apartments for their students.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Dec 10, 2014 5:39:21 PM

@ Jojo, I think it technically means that the median (not average) student in the bottom quarter of the entering class has an LSAT below 139. So you are absolutely right that a significant number of students have an LSAT even worse than that (1/8th or so). You are also absolutely right that these poor kids won't be able to find the courthouse, let alone practice law. It is the law school scam laid open for all to see. Absolutely predatory.

Posted by: Lonnie | Dec 10, 2014 8:28:54 PM

@UN, I wish I could have found an apartment in Boston for 1,200 when I was at BU. I paid 1,500/month and 100 for parking for a basement apartment the size of my current office. But that is not real money, it was only a federal loan. :)

Posted by: Daniel | Dec 11, 2014 7:54:47 AM

@Jojo, @ Lonnie--Sorry, what "25th percentile score is 138" means that 25% of the students scored less than 138 or less. So it's possible that that, say, 24% of students might have scored 120!

Posted by: David | Dec 11, 2014 12:19:42 PM

@ David, thanks for the clarification. Leave it to the law schools to obfuscate the issue by using median instead of average.

Posted by: Lonnie | Dec 11, 2014 6:44:36 PM