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Senators Seek Decade of Detailed Law School Placement, Bar Passage and Student Debt Data

Posted Oct 14, 2011 1:24 PM CDT
By Mark Hansen

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Two U.S. senators have asked federal educational officials to turn over detailed information about law school enrollment, tuition, finances, job placement, bar passage and student debt rates over the past 10 years.

In a statement Friday, the two—Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK)—said they were acting in response to "serious concerns" that have been raised lately about the accuracy and transparency of information law schools are providing prospective students.

The letter cites media reports the senators say raise questions about the whether the claims law schools use to lure prospective students are, in fact, accurate. It also cites other stories they say call into question whether law school tuition and fees are being used strictly for legal education or for other, unrelated purposes.

The letter follows repeated calls from Sen. Boxer to the ABA, whose Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar accredits law schools, to provide stronger oversight of law schools and better access to information about the actual costs and benefits of a legal education.

The letter, addressed to the U.S. Department of Education's Inspector General, requests detailed information over the most recent 10-year window about enrollments, tuition and fees; spending on legal and non-legal educational purposes, student debt loads, bar passage and graduation rates, and post-graduate job placement data.

The senators are also asking the IG's office for a description of the methodology used to acquire and analyze the data they are seeking and to note any obstacles it encounters to collecting the information they're requesting.

The ABA's Legal Ed Section issued a statement saying it is fully committed to ensuring that law schools provide clear, accurate and complete reporting on the issues raised by the two senators. It also said it will cooperate fully with the senators' request to educational officials, and will respond to Sen. Boxer's Oct. 6 letter to the section next week.

Also see these ABAJournal.com posts:

Sen. Barbara Boxer Accuses ABA of Taking ‘Half Measures’ to Collect Better Job Stats

Law Firms Announce Plans to Sue 15 More Law Schools over Job Stats

Sen. Grassley Questions ABA’s Law School Accreditation Process

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