It’s one of those Through the Wormhole moments when the camera pans back to reveal that Morgan Freeman is an insignificant spec on the Earth which is an insignificant spec in the galaxy, which itself is an insignificant point of light in the multi-verse. When you adopt the proper perspective, you see that there is an entire system at work here that dwarfs the concerns of any individual law school taking advantage of any particular class of prospective students.
Last Thursday, in totally unheralded news, a panel of regulators recommended that the Department of Education re-authorize the ABA’s accreditation authority for another three years. But hey, at least they asked a question…
The headline on Inside Higher Ed says it all: “Federal Panel Asks About Law School Job Data.”
That’s it, that’s the news. In supporting the American Bar Association’s blanket authority to accredit law schools, a federal panel whose job it is to make these recommendations to the Department of Education asked if the ABA was making sure that law schools provide “good data” to prospective students about their employment outcomes.
To which the ABA apparently said “meh.”
Representatives of the bar association said they were meeting with firms soon to consider an independent audit of job placement data, beginning with the class of 2014. About 15 institutions are currently not complying with the job placement disclosure requirements of the association’s accrediting arm.
And… that’s it! Oh, the ABA is thinking about talking to law schools to actually verify the data law schools have been spewing for years. Maybe. Starting with the class that graduates next year. So people might have independently verifiable information about one year’s worth of law school employment stats in 2016 or so, if the ABA bothers to get around to it. Also 15 schools just aren’t playing along, but whattayagonnado?
And the federal regulators said: “Yeah, life’s a bitch,” and recommended that the ABA keep their cherished position in charge of accrediting law schools. That’s nuts. That’s terrifying bureaucracy. What are the chances that the federal regulators have any idea about what’s really happening with law school accreditation? What are the chances that the regulators are aware of the latest NALP statistics? What are the chances that the regulators know what NALP is?
In related news… a new law school just received provisional accreditation! In the past, the plan for Belmont University Law School was so ridiculous that the ABA seemed concerned, but evidently those fears have been addressed because here comes a new law school in Tennessee. Here’s the message from the Belmont Law Dean:
Dear Faculty, Staff & Students:
On June 8, 2013, the Council of the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar granted provisional accreditation to Belmont University College of Law.
According to ABA Standards, provisionally accredited law schools are entitled to all rights of fully accredited law schools and graduates of provisionally accredited law schools are entitled to the same recognition accorded to graduates of fully accredited law schools. To my knowledge, graduates of provisionally accredited law schools may sit for the bar exam in all U.S. states and jurisdictions.
This is a major milestone for the College of Law, and I want to thank all of you for your assistance in the process.
Jeffrey S. Kinsler
One tipster says:
BOO… This clown college of law was approved on Saturday by the ABA.
Good job, federal regulators. Maybe in three years you can ask the ABA two questions before rubber stamping their accreditation powers yet again.
Federal Panel Asks About Law School Job Data [Inside Higher Ed]