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ABA Committee Readies Law School Placement, Salary Questionnaire

Posted Nov 21, 2011 5:43 PM CDT
By Mark Hansen

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An ABA committee has completed work on its proposed plan to begin collecting more detailed job placement and salary information about recent graduates from ABA-accredited law schools.

The proposed changes (PDF), which have been recommended by the Questionnaire Committee of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the ABA's accrediting arm, will be presented to the section's governing council at its Dec. 3 meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

If approved, the changes would begin to take effect with the graduate placement questionnaire law schools will be required to fill out regarding the as-of-Feb. 15 employment status of members of the graduating class of 2011. That questionnaire would be due back to the ABA on March 15.

ABA officials anticipate that the data, which will eventually be published in the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools, could be available on the section's website as early as July.

The questionnaire committee's proposed changes with respect to employment data are largely identical to those being considered by the section's Standards Review Committee, which is now putting the finishing touches on its proposed new law school disclosure requirements.

Both proposals would require law schools to disclose how many graduates are working in various job types and their status, including how many are in jobs requiring a law degree, how many are in other professional or nonprofessional jobs, how many are in jobs of an unknown type, how many are pursuing graduate degrees and how many are unemployed and either seeking or not seeking work.

Both would also require schools to disclose how many graduates are working in full-time or part-time jobs, whether those jobs are short-term or long-term, and how many of them are funded by the school or the university from which the job-holder graduated.

But the two proposals also differ in several respects. The Questionnaire Committee is recommending that law schools be required to report the top three states in which their graduates are employed, along with the number of graduates working in each state and the number working overseas. The Standards Review Committee is not considering any employment location disclosure requirement.

The Standards Review Committee, however, is tentatively proposing to require law schools to disclose school-specific salary information about their graduates. The Questionnaire Committee is proposing to rely on the National Association for Law Placement for salary data, which it plans to publish only on a statewide basis.

The Questionnaire Committee believes such an approach will avoid any upward skewing of the reported salary information since not all graduates choose to disclose their salaries, and those who do tend to be the ones earning the most. The Standards Review Committee, on the other hand, has generally taken the position that the more information law schools are required to disclose, the better, as long as it's not inaccurate.

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