American Bar Association / ABA, Ave Maria School of Law, Law Schools

Ave Maria Goes Back Into Hiding From Law School Transparency

Guys, this is my bad. I made a mistake. You see, back in September, Ave Maria School of Law said it was going to do something. And me, silly fool that I am, believed them. I know, I know, I’m an idiot. What kind of person actually believes Ave Maria will keep its word?

In September, Ave Maria announced that it would be the first law school to adopt the proposals set out by the Law School Transparency project for employment reporting by law schools.

And now they’ve gone back on their word. Ave Maria has informed the LST people that they will not let people applying to Ave Maria know what they’re getting into. The school has decided that it doesn’t want to be “first,” and they’re punting the issue back to the ABA.

It’s just amazing to me when an institution of higher education can’t even keep its word….

LST explains what went down:

Ave Maria’s dean, Eugene Milhizer, first decided that the school would not participate back in December. However, we were not informed about the school’s decision until 12 days ago, in response to us asking whether the school needed any help following the LST Standard Guidelines. We attempted to change the school’s decision and invited Dean Milhizer to a conference call. This past Friday, the career services director informed us that Dean Milhizer was not interested in discussing the issue further. We accordingly offered Ave Maria the opportunity to write an official statement for release with this post. Ave Maria declined further comment.

The people making the choices at Ave Maria might still think “the right thing to do” is to better inform prospectives about employment outcomes. However, the school does not want to act before the ABA opines on the issue, seeing as ABA reform is on the way. Part of Ave Maria’s concern is also that, if the school is the only one to comply with the LST Standard, it will not be useful to prospective students because they will not have anything with which to compare Ave Maria’s employment data.

That would be a passable explanation for going back on its word if LST was asking Ave Maria to submit to some kind of radical, newfangled analysis. But let’s remember, all LST is asking Ave Maria (and every other law school) to do is tell the truth. That’s it! Don’t lie, don’t fudge, don’t obfuscate, just tell the truth about the employment options available to your graduates.

So really what Ave Maria is saying is: Why should we tell the truth when nobody else does? And that’s a fair question, I suppose. But it’s a question that Ave Maria should have asked itself back in September. Do we really need to explain to Ave Maria why an institution should tell the truth and keep its word? How did we get to a point where law schools need to be incentivized to give honest and clear information to prospective applicants?

For what it’s worth, Ave Maria probably has more of a duty to be transparent with incoming students than other law schools:

The Class of 2010 marks the first class to graduate from Ave Maria since its move to Florida. Until May 2009, Ave Maria was located in Michigan. After some controversy, the school moved to Florida and resumed classes in August 2009. Because Ave Maria was a regional law school while in Michigan, it is reasonable to wonder how well the Class of 2010 did in the job market now that the school has moved to a state with little, if any, alumni network.

You’d like to think that prospective students will take note of this kind of behavior. But the bitch of it is, we’re talking about Ave Maria School of Law. Do the applicants to that school really have a whole lot of other law school options? Ave Maria already preys upon students so desperate to go to law school that they don’t really care about their employment options upon graduation.

In any event, this really does all come back to the what the ABA will allow these law schools to get away with. If the ABA isn’t going to require these schools to be honest with prospective graduates, the schools will never do it on their own.

Apathy For Applicants Continues: Ave Maria Backs Out [Law School Transparency]

Earlier: Ave Maria Becomes First Law School to Agree to Transparency Project: Is That a Good Thing?

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