Law Students

ABA Changes the Way Law Schools Must Report Alumni Employment
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Up till now, law schools were required by the ABA to report employment for their grads at 9 months post-graduation. The solid 9-months is enough to gestate the freshly acquired degree and give birth to a job. Nevertheless, schools in California and New York have complained that 9 months is unfair to them, because their states have a delayed bar exam, unlike the rest of the country, meaning that their JD’s have less time to get a job, and that the statistics are skewed by this. 10 months would be a more balanced forecast for prospective students. Ultimately, the ABA agreed, and changed the means by which statistics are presented to prospective students: 10 months is it.

Not that the vote was unanimous. As the National Law Journal reported, Council President Solomon Oliver, Jr., the Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, decided the vote.

  
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“The interest here is in getting accurate information about graduate employment” said Council member Rebecca Berch, Chief Justice of the American Supreme Court. “Legal education has taken a lot of hits because of people not being reported as employed. If going out a month helps to better capture that information, I think we should do it.”

But at what cost? It is unclear whether California and New York are justified in their claims that the delayed bar is what is skewing their stats. Further, by changing the number of months to report alumni employment, schools have effectively prevented an accurate comparison between 2014 onward (when the change goes into effect) and previous years, as they will be comparing different data.

As Ohio State University law professor Deborah Merrit noted, another problem was that the change could “further diminish public trust in law schools and the ABA.”

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Kyle McEntee, the executive director of Law School Transparency, furthered this sentiment, stating that “The Council is confused about its duties. It’s not to protect the law schools or to ensure that legal education looks better.”

Nevertheless, there is some indication that the adjustment might give a better comparison between New York, California, and the rest of the country, and that is perhaps why the change is for the best.





 

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