Law School Transparency

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….

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Yale Law School

Here at Above the Law, we’ve been discussing problems with the current law school model for quite some time now. My colleague Elie Mystal, for example, has railed against the high cost of law school, the crippling debt taken on by many law students, and the scarcity of jobs waiting for them on the other side.

By now we’re all aware of the problems. What about possible solutions?

In the wake of David Segal’s most recent New York Times exposé on law school shenanigans, the Times’s Room for Debate section solicited perspectives from a number of experts — including yours truly — on whether and how to reform legal education.

The responses are quite interesting. Let’s check them out, shall we?

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Ever since Anna Alaburda sued Thomas Jefferson School of Law over its allegedly misleading employment statistics, we’ve been waiting for TJSL to respond. Today is that day, and the school’s answer does not disappoint.

The school has filed two documents in response to Alaburda’s complaint. We’ve uploaded their demurrer and their motion to strike. They are not long; you should flip through them.

Thomas Jefferson makes a solid defense of itself. But in the process of trying to quash Alaburda’s lawsuit, the school offers some pretty damning admissions that seem to support Alaburda’s underlying moral, if not legal, point…

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A couple of days ago, we mentioned that Thomas Jefferson Law School had been sued, again. The school is already facing heat for its allegedly misleading employment statistics, and now it has also been caught up in sexual harassment litigation.

Officials at Thomas Jefferson furnished us with a response to the allegations that a school official sexually harassed an employee and his wife.

But that’s not the only law school litigation news we have today. Actually, we’ve come across a Craiglist ad looking for plaintiffs for a possible lawsuit against another school with “Thomas” in its name…

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A reader noticed the job placement stats at UCLA Law, the #16 law school in the country, for the class of 2010.

The stats are frankly unbelievable. UCLA is claiming that 97.9% of its class of 2010 was employed within 9 months of graduation, at a median starting salary of $145K. Japanese officials were more straightforward about the Fukushima Daiichi disaster than UCLA is being with these bogus employment figures. But whatever, as I’ve said many times: we’ve gotten so used to educators misleading us that the concept of one of them telling truth seems like we’re asking too much.

At least UCLA added some fine print:

Note: Employment statistics include full-time and part-time jobs. Salary statistics are full-time only for those who reported salary information. Second jobs are not included in these statistics. This report represents NALP categories only.

Translation: If a graduate received money for giving a half-and-half at a truck stop up in Berkeley, that still counts! But the salary numbers only refer to our highest performing graduates. Also, why are you reading this tiny print? Look at the monkey. Look at the monkey. Yes, you’ll probably need a second job. What?

Obviously, this “disclaimer” is woefully ineffective, and a reader has even more reasons why….

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It appears that we closed the poll but forgot to announce the Lawyer of the Month for May 2011. That’s our bad. We’ve been so busy trying to keep up with all the bats**t crazy lawyers sprouting up in June that May 2011 feels like it took place in 2008.

But we don’t want to totally forget about the May Lawyer of the Month, because it gives us one more chance to honor a recent law graduate who might be doing everybody a world of good….

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* Happy Magna Carta Day! Freedom is great, but real property laws aren’t fun. Law students could have survived without half of them. [An Associate’s Mind]

* For those of you who get angsty on planes, here is a quick list of the things you can’t do. Getting naked in the bathroom — not in the cabin — counts for mile high club points. [Legal Blog Watch]

* Some more praise for Law School Transparency due to its work this week with the ABA. Reform is coming, whether you like it or not. [The Careerist]

* The so-called “master of disaster” Stanley M. Chesley’s life may be in shambles if he gets disbarred. How’s he going to clean up that mess? [WSJ Law Blog]

* A precious story about a law student who just loves being a dad. I hope he loves studying just as much, because he’s a single dad. [NPR]

Are you ready for some change? We’re about to see if two organizations worth about a quarter when it comes to regulating law schools can add up to a dollar’s worth of law school transparency. The American Bar Association has adopted new reporting standards for law school graduate employment data.

And at least for the first year of the new standards the ABA will be partnering with the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) to try to get accurate post-graduate employment data to prospective law students.

Let’s hope the ABA and NALP take their talents to the U.S. News law school rankings…

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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….

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“[T]he new NALP numbers confirm that the job market is terrible for young lawyers (aka the “lost generation”).” I wrote that last year about the class of 2009.

And last year things were way better than this year. This year’s NALP employment numbers are out, and they show that the class of 2010 had some of the worst employment outcomes of the last 20 years.

No wonder people are suing their law schools. Going to law school turned out to be a terrible decision for many of them….

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