The American Bar Association is resistant to change and slow to act. But it appears that the ABA will finally start collecting enhanced employment information on law school graduates.
Starting with the class of 2011, the ABA will try to turn the tide on the inflated and misleading employment data put out by American law schools. The new data collection was proposed back in March. We reported on it here. But last week, the ABA Section of Legal Education adopted the measures….
Having taken this long to even admit that there is a huge problem with the ABA’s data collection, at least the organization will try to collect better information sooner rather than later. From the press release:
As to job data, the 2011 Annual Questionnaire will request from law schools information on their graduates’ employment status, employment types and employment locations. It will also request additional and new information on whether a graduate’s employment is long-term or short-term. Finally, it will ask how many, if any, positions held by their graduates are funded by the law school or university.
New data will also be collected in the spring of 2012 (soon after February 15, 2012, the traditional nine-month-after-graduation date), for the graduating class of 2011, including whether the graduate’s job is part-time or full-time; whether the job requires bar passage; whether a J.D. is preferred for the job; whether the job is in another profession; and whether the job is a nonprofessional one. Definitions for these categories will be developed this coming fall. However, rather than wait until August 2012 to collect these new data, our plan is to collect those data from the schools soon after February 15, 2012 and display the data on our website in the late spring/early summer.
Now, I’m sure that law school deans are already working on how they are going to massage these new interrogatories in order to obfuscate the truth. Remember, we live in a world where educators have no qualms about misleading prospective students. Law deans will not try to conform with the spirit of this data collection, instead they’ll try to find loopholes that make their schools and the legal economy as a whole look better than it is.
But it’s a start.
Now that the ABA has these new questions, let’s see if the organization has the will to demand truthful answers. Will the ABA actually punish law schools that play fast and loose with their employment numbers? Or will the ABA passively accept what ever “statistics” law schools decide to report?