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ABA Legal Ed Section to Discuss More Detailed Reporting of Post-Law School Jobs, Salary Data

Posted Jun 10, 2011 1:13 PM CDT
By Mark Hansen

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Prospective law school students would have access to more detailed post-graduate employment and salary information under a set of proposed changes up for consideration this weekend by the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the governing body of the ABA's law school accrediting arm.

One proposed change would expand the number of categories for which law schools must report jobs data, including the number of graduates working in jobs requiring a law degree and those that are not, and the number of unemployed graduates who are and who are not seeking work.

Law schools would also have 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 from which the job-holder graduated. They would also have to identify the top three states where their graduates are employed, the number of graduates working in each state and the number of graduates working overseas.

All of the proposed changes (PDF) have been recommended by the council's questionnaire committee, which has spent the past year looking for ways to help prospective students decide which law schools to attend and assist recent graduates in making better job decisions.

The committee is also proposing to begin collecting starting salary information for recently hired law school graduates on a statewide basis using data provided to the ABA by the National Association for Law Placement, which conducts an annual survey of law school graduates' employment status nine months after graduation.

By combining the school-specific jobs data with the aggregated statewide salary data, the committee says, a prospective student would be able to obtain a good picture of employment and salary prospects at any particular school.

If the council, which is meeting this weekend in Salt Lake City, approves the committee's recommendations, the changes would take effect in time for the next data collection cycle, which begins in August. The information will be made available to readers of the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools and on the Law School Admissions Council's website.

Committee chair Art Gaudio, dean of Western New England College School of Law, wouldn't speculate on what the council might do with the committee's proposal. "We'll know soon enough," he said.

The proposed changes, if approved, may alleviate some of the concerns of critics—including Sen. Barbara Boxer—who have repeatedly complained about the accuracy and the transparency of post-graduate salary and employment information reported by law schools.

But they do not address another concern of Boxer's and others about what they see as the need for independent oversight of the information law schools provide the ABA, a concern the committee says it is still working to address.

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