American Bar Association / ABA, Law Schools, National Association for Law Placement (NALP), Unemployment

The ABA Focuses on Losing the ‘Lost Generation,’ One Statistic at a Time

Back in June, when we spoke about the latest job data from NALP, it became clear that the class of 2010 — my graduating class — had some of the worst employment outcomes of the last 20 years. We knew this because of the way NALP categorized its data, differentiating between jobs that require and don’t require bar passage, and between full-time and part-time jobs.

But apparently the American Bar Association isn’t interested in helping people understand these outcomes on a school-by-school basis. The ABA doesn’t want you to know how schools fared in finding full-time legal employment for graduates of the class of 2010.

That’s right, the same folks who claimed just two short months ago that “no one could be more focused on the future of our next generation of lawyers than the ABA,” will now be removing those helpful job characteristics from the 2011 Annual Questionnaire….

So, just how lost is the “Lost Generation”? Extremely. And it seems that the ABA intends to keep that fact under wraps.

In a world where young adults are suffering from the highest unemployment rates since the 1940s, the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar claims that it’s trying to improve the information on law school graduate employment, but thumbing its nose at the most basic question of all: did graduates get legal jobs?

On what planet does that make sense? Certainly not this one.

Kyle McEntee and Patrick Lynch of Law School Transparency commented on this proposed change in an op-ed piece published yesterday in the National Law Journal. They write:

On Sept. 23, the section’s questionnaire committee will finalize the 2011 questionnaire, which asks about the class of 2010. Additional reforms are slated for 2012. If nothing changes, the section will collect fewer job characteristics data than it has collected in prior years. Apparently, whether a job requires bar passage or only prefers a J.D., or whether a job is full- or part-time, are now too obscure to define without many more meetings.

Alright, let me get this straight. The academics who are attempting to finalize the Annual Questionnaire today, all of whom are currently employed in full-time positions, are now unable to define what a full-time job is. Similarly, these academics, all (or most) of whom have passed the bar exam, are now unable to decide whether or not a job requires bar passage. Yeah, academics, okay. At least now we know why they can’t get anything done.

The employment statistics for the class of 2010 aren’t pretty. We already know that. We know that the people at the ABA would like to slap a band-aid on these wounded statistics, cross their fingers, and hope that they just go away. But you know what? They’re not going to go away, and they’re probably going to leave an ugly scar.

Come on, open your eyes, people. We know that the ABA has the ability to demand accurate employment statistics, so why aren’t they doing it? How many more law school graduates need to sue their schools for the ABA to take some serious steps toward correcting this problem? How many more senators need to question the ABA’s practices and demand reform before the ABA actually does something about it?

Why is the ABA trying to bury the class of 2010? We may be lost, but we’re not dead.

ABA should make law schools provide better job statistics now [National Law Journal]
Young becoming “lost generation” amid recession [CBS News]

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