Law Schools

Boxer Presses ABA on Law School Data Reporting

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U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) continued Friday to press the ABA to improve the accuracy and transparency of the information law schools must provide to prospective students.

In a letter to ABA President Stephen N. Zack, Boxer acknowledged the ABA’s efforts on that front to date. But she also called on the ABA to strengthen its oversight of law school data reporting and improve access to that information by prospective students.

Boxer’s letter was in response to an April 27 letter (PDF) from Zack responding to her earlier request that the ABA push law schools to disclose more information about the actual costs and benefits of a legal education.

In Friday’s letter, Boxer said she was encouraged to hear that the ABA Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar will consider recommended changes in the annual questionnaires that law schools must fill out as part of the accreditation process at its next meeting in June.

But she also urged the section to consider other issues the recommendations do not address, such as the need for independent oversight of the data law schools submit to the ABA and publications like U.S. News and World Report, which ranks law schools annually.

“The section’s recommendations would allow law schools to continue to submit unaudited data, despite the fact that a lack of oversight has been identified by many observers as a major problem,” she wrote.

Boxer also said the ABA should undertake efforts to ensure that prospective students have easy access to post-graduation employment and salary information by requiring law schools to post links to such information on their websites and include it in their acceptance letters.

“Prospective students should not have to search far and wide for information so critical to determining their futures,” she wrote.

Boxer cited a recent story in the New York Times detailing problems with law school merit scholarships, including the fact that some schools do not make it clear how easy it is for prospective students who receive scholarships to lose them after the first year.

“I look forward to reviewing the results of the section’s June meeting, as well as your response to the merit scholarship issue,” Boxer wrote.

Zack said that Boxer shares the ABA’s concerns and that the association appreciates the ongoing dialogue they are having about important issues, like how law students finance their educations and what their employment prospects are after graduation.

“We’re glad the senator is ‘encouraged’ and ‘pleased’ by what the [ABA] and its Council on Legal Education have been doing,” he said.

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