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No Fudging: Revised Standard Bars Law Schools from Publishing Misleading Consumer Info

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Law schools must disclose more consumer information on their websites under changes to accreditation standards concurred in by the ABA House of Delegates Monday.

The changes to so-called “Standard 509” require all consumer information released by law schools to be complete, accurate and not misleading. Penalties can be imposed for violations, even after a law school corrects the problem.

Under the revisions, law schools will have to publish additional website information that includes attrition numbers, employment outcomes for graduates, and the percentage of students who retain scholarships that are dependent upon minimum grades or class standing.

The amendments to Standard 509 don’t specify the type of employment information that must be disclosed. Rather, the requirements are spelled out in a separate chart that can be more easily revised than the standard.

The changes to Standard 509 of the ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools are explained in Resolution 103. They are designed to make it easier for students to compare law schools.

One bone of contention during prior debate over the changes was whether law schools should have to disclose salary data about their own graduates. Proponents said school-specific salary data is more valuable than statewide data, which shields law schools whose graduates are faring the worse. The idea was rejected, however, in favor of a provision that says law schools choosing to disclose salary data for their grads must identify the number of salaries and the percentage of graduates included in the information.

The governing council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the accrediting body for U.S. law schools, adopted the changes in June. The ABA House had the option of concurring in the changes or sending them back to the council for reconsideration. The council ultimately has the final say-so, however.

Prior coverage:

ABA Journal: “The Long March: Project to Revise Law School Accreditation Standards Shows Steady Progress” “Public Favors Proposed Law School Disclosure Requirements; Some Want School-Specific Pay Data, Too” “ABA Committee Approves New Law School Disclosure Requirements”

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