Study tackles transparency of law schools

January 18, 2012
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A Tennessee nonprofit is calling out law schools for their lack of accessible information on recent graduates.

The Tennessee nonprofit – Law School Transparency – is calling out law schools for their lack of accessible information on recent graduates. It just released its winter 2012 report on its analysis of the class of 2010 employment information available on ABA-approved law school websites this month. According to the group, schools aren’t being as transparent as the LST would like.

More than a quarter of those schools aren’t providing any evaluable information online for the 2010 graduates’ employment outcomes. Only about 25 percent of schools report how many graduates work in legal jobs, but only 1 percent said how many were in full-time, long-term legal jobs. Just over half of schools didn’t indicate how many graduates actually responded to their survey.

Nearly half of schools are providing salary information, but the LST claims that 78 percent of those schools provide the information in ways that mislead the reader.

“Taken together, these and other findings illustrate how law schools have been slow to react to calls for disclosure, with some schools conjuring ways to repackage employment data to maintain their images,” the report says. “Our findings play into a larger dialogue about law schools and their continued secrecy against a backdrop of stories about admissions data fraud, class action lawsuits, and ever-rising education costs. These findings raise a red flag as to whether schools are capable of making needed changes to the current, unsustainable law school model without being compelled to through government oversight or other external forces.”

This report comes on the heels of the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools in which legal organizations outside of academia and law firms questioned how law schools are preparing students to practice law. The chief executive officer of Legal OnRamp, a web-based platform for attorneys to connect, compared law schools to the 1970s Swedish singing group ABBA to make the point that if law schools don’t adapt to changes in the legal profession then schools will look as outdated as ABBA seems to people born after 1980. The CEO of a legal consulting group said schools are tweaking their curriculum but not really responding to the bigger issues of preparing students to actually be lawyers and that not all will practice in a law firm.

Do you think law schools are doing a good job letting graduates know about how previous classes have done in terms of employment? What about preparation for becoming an attorney?
 

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