Law Students

ABA Planning to Release Law School Data ‘As Soon As Received’
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In a bid to allay grievances over law school data released by ABA being mostly two-year old and rather useless, ABA has announced it would release the data from law schools as soon they are able to collate it. Hulett “Bucky” Askew, the ABA’s consultant on legal education, told the NLJ recently, “We decided a while back that as soon as we got all the data together, we’d put it up for the public to see. We want to get information out more quickly.”

The ABA is working diligently towards getting the word out faster, at least by a year, and required law schools last month to complete a special jobs survey for their 2011 graduates. The ABA figures it would be able to table the data to the public by late May or early June.

The ABA spokesman mentioned, “The goal is to have schools reporting employment statistics consistently, so that it’s easy to compare across schools.”

  
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Last year, many internet forums and publications including the Law Blog as well as print publications noted that the type of data collected by ABA, and the slow speed with which it makes the data publicly accessible, contributes to controversies and confusion.

Since the data includes the number of graduates in both part-time and full-time jobs, as well as the number of jobs requiring a JD, students used the data to estimate their prospects with a law school. However the accessible data, being obsolete and irrelevant, served to substantiate misleading claims.

Last month, the ABA was heavily criticized by the media for avoiding the requirement of mandatory and detailed graduate salary information by law schools. The little data that is available, along with the database that has been made public recently by the ABA, shows that employment figures cited by law schools were hyped by school-funded part-time jobs.

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The ABA is reluctantly admitting that law school data needs to be made available to prospective students as soon as possible, otherwise the purpose of publication becomes self-defeating. Though the ABA has been running its website for decades, and is no novice to internet technology, as proved by the existence of its annual eLawyering awards, what took it so long to wake up remains a matter of speculation.

The ABA has at last understood that in case of publishing law school data required by prospective students, “better late than never” is irrelevant as a procedural principle, but “data delayed is data denied” and the quicker the data is published, the better for it is for its image.





 

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