Did you know that there is a federal panel that reviews accreditation organizations? Did you know this panel makes recommendations to the Department of Education on how well the accreditation organization is doing its job? Did you know that there is a government panel that can actually address how the American Bar Association is doing its job of accrediting law schools?

The panel is called the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity. Now that I’ve told you its function, you will not be at all surprised that the ABA got smacked around a bit when it was brought up in front of the board.

Oh, don’t worry, the panel isn’t actually going to do anything to force the ABA to do a better job. This is government work we’re talking about.

But still, the ABA got a bit of a tongue lashing, so that’s something….

The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription) highlights the weakness of the ABA’s accreditation process:

Of the 10 agencies being reviewed on Wednesday and Thursday, all were recommended for continued recognition, though eight of them must submit a report within 12 months to show that they have corrected flaws revealed by the department staff.

But several members of the committee expressed reservations about approving that status for the American Bar Association, which was found to be out of compliance with 17 regulations, including the need to consider student-loan default rates in assessing programs; to solicit and consider public comments; and to set a standard for job placement by its member institutions.

Arthur E. Keiser, chancellor of the Keiser Collegiate System, said that an accrediting agency would not accredit an institution with 17 outstanding issues. “There is a real concern that this agency doesn’t get it,” he said.

Wait, you mean other accrediting organizations set job placement standards for the schools they accredit? It’s possible to do this? It’s possible to say, “Hey, you will lose your accreditation if you can’t place 75% of your graduates in legal jobs over a three-year period”? It’s possible to do this, and the ABA doesn’t do this because….

[Considering options.]

[Accessing stud finder.]

[Bangs head into wall.]

Why do lawyers have the developmentally disabled accreditation organization? Honestly, why wouldn’t the ABA require schools to place a certain percentage of their graduates in legal jobs to maintain accreditation? What POSSIBLE DOWNSIDE comes from the ABA trying to make sure that member law schools actually graduate employable lawyers? Damn straight the ABA “doesn’t get it.”

In any event, here’s the ABA’s response:

Representatives of the association assured the committee that the changes recommended by the department were already in the process of being carried out and would be completed in time.

I’ll believe that when I see it, and not a moment before.

I just hope people like Senator Barbara Boxer realize what they’re dealing with. The organization has 17 outstanding issues with respect to its accreditation power. At some point you have to wonder if it is even acting in good faith.

The next time Senator Boxer tries to move the ball on this issue, she shouldn’t joust with the ABA; she should go directly to the Department of Education and ask it to deal with these ABA jokers.

American Bar Association Takes Heat From Advisory Panel on Accreditation [Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription)]

Earlier: Senator Boxer Keeps Pressure On The ABA


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