American Bar Association / ABA, Blogging, Law Schools, Media and Journalism, Student Loans

The ABA Started ‘Warning’ People About Going to Law School Years Ago

I have no idea why this is blowing up today, but it looks like the mainstream media just figured that maybe going to law school isn’t the most awesome idea (especially in this economy).

On New Year’s Eve, John Carney — our former colleague, from his days at Dealbreaker — noted on CNBC’s NetNet that the ABA issued a paper entitled The Value Proposition of Going to Law School (Word document). NetNet called the report an official warning from the ABA about the perils of going to law school. I’m always happy to see that particular report get a little bit more coverage. We linked to Carney’s post in Morning Docket on Monday, when we got back from break.

But then it seems that Doug Mataconis of Outside the Beltway noticed Carney’s report, and he did a story on it. And then Megan McArdle of The Atlantic noticed the Outside the Beltway report, and she did a story on it, today. And in the meantime the ABA paper has been linked and retweeted a bunch of times.

And that’s all well and good, except for the fact that the damn thing came out years ago and was widely discussed in the legal blogosphere back in 2009. So, umm, while it’s great that everybody is interested in this party, there hasn’t actually been any new news about the matter over the last few days….

I don’t know exactly when the report first went up on the ABA’s website, but it looks like it went live sometime in 2009. You know, back during the teeth of the recession, when Above the Law and all the other legal sites were trying to cover the unprecedented wave of lawyer layoffs.

Still, the report was given its due at the time. Karen Sloan discussed it in the National Law Journal back on December 14, 2009. It’s an interesting read, and the report covers some of the facts of legal life that were obvious to everybody at least by the time the recession took hold.

And while it’s certainly nice that the ABA put this thing together, it’s not like the organization made a huge deal about these findings. I mean, the report itself is under the “Legal Education” tab on, off to the side under the heading “Additional Prelaw Information.” I suppose that’s as fine as a place to put it as any, but it’s not like it’s sitting on the main ABA hompeage, under big flashing letters that scream “WARNING.” They didn’t even give it a Drudge siren.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying the ABA paper is insignificant. It’s just a bit dated. And it’s very clearly a “recession era” document. The full title of the report is: “ABA Commission on the Impact of the Economic Crises on the Profession and Legal Needs: The Value Proposition of Attending Law School” (what a mouthful). It’s a general statement on the risks and rewards of attending law school, and the information it contains — it’s only four pages long — has been digested by the marketplace already. The ABA Journal casually referenced the thing just a few months ago, in a September 1, 2010 article.

So, at the very least, I think people don’t need to email us this document anymore. If you haven’t ever seen it or heard about, please do click on some of the links below and take a look. But if you’re waiting for a bold new approach from the ABA that deals with how some accredited law schools are taking advantage of students during a tight legal market, this isn’t exactly what you’re looking for.

Getting Schooled in Law Loans [NetNet/CNBC]
ABA Telling College Students: Don’t Go To Law School [Outside the Beltway]
You Know the Legal Job Market Must Be Bad … [The Atlantic]
Going to Law School? Proceed With Caution [National Law Journal]
The Value Proposition of Going to Law School [American Bar Association (Word document)]

(hidden for your protection)

comments sponsored by

Show all comments