Law Schools

Track job outcomes 9 or 10 months after graduation? ABA legal ed council to take it up in August

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The governing council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has voted to defer action until August on a proposal to push back by a month the date on which law schools measure graduate employment outcomes.

The council, which met Friday in St. Louis, decided it was in no rush to act on the proposed change since the next employment questionnaire won’t go out to law schools until later in the fall or early next spring, said Barry Currier, the ABA’s managing director of accreditation and legal education. It also wants to give anybody who wants to comment on the proposal a chance to do so before it decides whether to make any changes.

The proposal, put forth by the council’s data policy and collection committee, was to move back by a month the date that schools measure employment outcomes from Feb. 15, or nine months after graduation, until March 15.

The committee based its recommendation on the fact that some states, like California and New York, are slow to report bar exam results, which it said works a particular hardship on schools located in those states and on schools whose graduates seek employment in substantial numbers in those states.

Moving the employment status determination date from Feb. 15 to March 15 would help level the playing field between schools located in states that release bar exam results relatively quickly and schools located in states that take much longer, it said.

To accommodate that change, the committee also recommended moving the deadline for reporting employment outcome data back from the current March 15 date until April 7.

Kyle McEntee, executive director of Law School Transparency, who opposes the committee’s recommendation, said the council’s decision to defer action on the proposal is a “victory” for prospective students and for people who want the ABA to engage in “more rational decision-making.”

McEntee said the committee hadn’t made the case that the changes were either necessary or useful. He also said the committee had made only “passing mention” of the impact its proposal would have on prospective students.

Currier declined to respond to McEntee’s comments, except to say: “It’s not a battle. There are no winners or losers. It’s the students we’re concerned about here.”

At its meeting Friday, the council also approved a number of changes in the standard governing what types of consumer information law schools are required to disclose. The approved changes (PDF) will now go the House of Delegates for consideration at the ABA Annual Meeting in August.

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