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ABA Section Council Helps Improve Clarity and Accuracy of Law School Data

ABA Section Council Helps Improve Clarity and Accuracy of Law School Data

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The Council of the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has approved significant changes in the section’s collection and publication of graduate placement data provided by law schools.  The changes are meant to enhance the accuracy, timeliness, completeness and specificity of the data.

The Council’s actions will expand the level of detail law schools must report to the ABA, refine the definitions of reporting categories, and accelerate the timetable on which the data will be published by the ABA.

The changes, recommended by the section’s Questionnaire Committee and adopted by the Council, require the following:

  • Law schools will be required to report placement data (nine months after graduation) directly to the section. This will help ensure the accuracy of the data, and permit its expedited publication.  (In the past, this information was reported only to the National Association of Law Placement, which aggregated the data for individual graduates of each school, and sent a report to the schools that was then reported to the ABA in its Annual Questionnaire.)
  • Information on placement data will be posted online the year after it is collected. Data on a specific class, for example 2011, will be published in the summer of the following year (2012), as opposed to two years later.
  • Information will be more detailed and complete.  The changes expand and refine the data reported by law schools.  Law schools must report for each graduate:
    • Employment status (employed, unemployed/seeking, unemployed/not seeking, pursuing graduate degree full-time, unknown);
    • Employment type (law firm, business, government, public interest, clerkship, academia);
    • Employment location;
    • Whether a position is short or long term;
    • Whether a position is funded by the school itself.

Going forward, schools will also report on employment type:

  • Bar passage required;
  • J.D. advantage;
  • Other professional/nonprofessional;
  • Full time or part time.

“There should be no doubt that the section is fully committed to the clarity and accuracy of law school placement data,” said New England Law/Boston Dean John O’Brien, chair of the section.  “As a result of these changes, future law students will be better informed about the prospects for employment than ever before.”

To become accredited, law schools must comply with each of the Standards for Approval of Law Schools.  Standard 509 requires that law schools publish basic consumer information, including placement data:  “The information shall be published in a fair and accurate manner reflective of actual practice.” The ABA relies on law schools to provide fair and accurate information, which the ABA publishes for use by prospective students. A more detailed letter regarding the announced changes is available here.

See the ABANow News Release on these changes.

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