American Bar Association / ABA, Law Schools

Is a Senate Hearing on the Way for Law School Transparency?

Law schools have faced an incredible amount of public scrutiny this year. Three law schools — Thomas Jefferson, Cooley Law, and New York Law School — are facing lawsuits over their allegedly deceptive employment statistics. Fifteen more lawsuits of the same variety may be filed soon. Three senators have demanded action from the American Bar Association, but the response has been lacking.

And in the face of all of this public ridicule, the ABA’s Section of Legal Education declined to ask questions pertaining to employment in legal jobs in its 2011 questionnaire. Apparently the powers that be at the ABA have adopted a honey badger policy with regard to questions of post-graduate employment data (i.e., don’t care; don’t give a sh*t).

So, what’s the next step in this process? Is there a Senate hearing in the works?

Our friends at Law School Transparency say that a Senate hearing on the matter is being “strongly considered.” The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) has more information:

U.S. Senate staff members are gathering a trove of information about legal education in the U.S., including figures on law school job placement and student-loan debt, in response to questions about whether the nation’s law schools have been luring students with bogus data.

The information could serve as a backdrop to hearings on legal education that U.S. senators are “strongly considering,” according to a congressional staffer.

That certainly sounds like a good jumping off point. But what will be the focus of those hearings? Here’s more from the WSJ Law Blog:

A congressional staffer told [Ashby] Jones that senators would likely look into schools’ alleged failure to report accurate employment statistics and air concerns over the amount of debt being racked up by law school students by the time they graduate, often with no job waiting for them. The Senate Commerce Committee is a leading candidate to hold the hearings.

Many schools have continued to report employment rates well above 90% for graduating classes, despite unprecedented layoffs and slowed hiring at the nation’s law firms.

Yes, law schools have continued to report blatantly deceptive post-graduate employment data, and the ABA has done absolutely nothing about it. But does that really surprise anyone? Because really, when the ABA does nothing more than slap a school on the wrist for falsifying LSAT and GPA information, you’ve got to question whether the organization even cares.

Maybe an actual Senate hearing — or hell, even the threat of one — will put the fear of God into the ABA and spur it to get its ass in gear.

Senate Hearing on Law School Transparency Is Being “Strongly Considered” [Law School Transparency]
Lawmakers Probe Law Schools’ Data [Wall Street Journal [subscription required)]
Congress Gives Law Schools the Stink Eye [WSJ Law Blog]
Will Senate Hold Hearings on Law Schools? Lawmakers’ Data Collection Could Be Backdrop [ABA Journal]

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