Law Schools

ABA Legal Ed Section's Council Approves Changes in Law Graduate Employment Data

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The governing body of the ABA’s law school accrediting arm has approved a set of recommended changes in the collection and publication of graduate placement data.

The changes, which had been proposed by the Questionnaire Committee of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, were approved unanimously by the section’s council at its meeting Saturday in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

All told, the changes will expand the level of detail of graduate employment data law schools must report, refine the definitions of the reporting categories used and accelerate the timetable for publishing the data from about two years after a class graduates to one year.

The revisions, which will take effect with the distribution later this month of an interim graduate placement questionnaire for the graduating class of 2011, which will be due back to the ABA on March 15, are intended to provide jobs data that is more accurate, more timely, more specific and more complete, the section said in a prepared statement (PDF).

“The section is fully committed to [the] clarity and accuracy of law school placement data,” said section chair John O’Brien, dean of New England Law | Boston. “As a result of these changes, future law students will be better informed about the prospects for employment than ever before.”

Under the new procedure, law schools will now be required to report placement data directly to the section rather than to the National Association for Law Placement, which used to collect and analyze the data in a report it sent back to the schools, which then forwarded the information on to the section.

That change is expected to help ensure the accuracy of the data and allow for its expedited publication, the section says. It will also allow the section to determine how and what data are collected, as well as how various survey terms are defined.

The revised questionnaires will also require law schools to report 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 pursuing graduate degrees and how many are unemployed and either seeking or not seeking work. Schools will also be required to report information about graduates’ employment location, whether a position is short-term or long-term and whether it is funded by the school from which the job-holder graduated.

For now, the section plans to purchase salary data from NALP, which it intends to publish on a state and nationwide basis for each job category. But that could change under a draft proposal being considered by the section’s Standards Review Committee, which may recommend requiring law schools to post school-specific salary information on their websites.

Related article: “ABA Committee Readies Law School Placement, Salary Questionnaire”

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