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Law Schools Need Not Report Graduate Salary Data, Says ABA
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In a move that is already drawing flak from transparency advocates, the new accreditation standards for law schools tabled by the ABA on the primary votes, March 17, do not make it mandatory for law schools to report graduate salaries. However, the council will hold a round of public hearing and commenting and then go for a final vote before finalizing the new accreditation standards for law schools.

Transparency advocate Kyle McEntee, executive director of Law School Transparency told the media, “This is the council’s latest mistake in a string of mistakes … it’s a pattern of consumer-disoriented information.”

However, Jeffery Lewis, a professor and chairman of the standards review committee opined the salary data “was controversial even within the standards review committee … the pro argument was that the more information you have, the better. The con argument was that it’s really hard for the schools to gather salary information from graduates, and the response rates tend to be low. That means the information might not be useful or might be misleading.”

  
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As recent lawsuits filed by students show, the salary data has, in fact, been quite misleading.

The ABA claims that by removing the need to place salary data, the accreditation requirements now conform to changes that have already been made by the ABA’s questionnaire committee. The referred changes include doing away with the need for school-specific salary data, and the only requirement is that schools should disclose names of the three states where the highest numbers of their graduates had secured employment.

Transparency advocates argue that without school-specific salary data, prospective students are left in the blind and are forced to make uninformed choices.

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However, the data requirements for the ABA accreditation standards have changed quite a bit: new rules would require law schools to publicly disclose admissions data, tuition rates and fees, enrollment data and bar passage rates. Schools would also be required to inform about the jobs in which a J.D. is preferred including professional and non professional jobs, as also the number of grads who are unemployed and the number seeking further education.

The matter of misleading data about law school prospects was questioned in the U.S. Senate this year, and several law schools have already been sued by students at the courts.



The principle is clear – you don’t know anything, you can’t question anything.

However McEntee the transparency advocate holds that not providing information has nothing to do with the quality of salary information, or an intention not to allow it to be misleading. Simple adjustments in how the data is collected could have sufficed. “You could say, ‘Don’t provide a number unless you have at least ten graduates responding.’ Why stick with the status quo?”



 

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