Sunday, August 6, 2017

ABA Council Approves Proposal to Rescind Transparency Regarding Law School-Funded Positions

TTT News: On August 3, 2017, the TaxProf blog featured an article from Jerry Organ, under the header “Without Any Transparency In The Process, ABA Legal Ed Council Approves Changes To Employment Report And Classification Of Law-School-Funded Positions That Erode Transparency.” Look at this opening:

“At its June 1-2 meeting, the ABA Council for the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved a proposal to completely eviscerate the steps it approved in 2015 to assure greater transparency in reporting law-school-funded positions. Indeed, the Council went even further, changing the rules to make it impossible for anyone to discover what number/percentage of a law school’s graduates are in law-school-funded positions, so long as those positions pay $40,000.

The Council did this with no notice, no chance for comment, and no presentation of possible concerns associated with this change. Rather, it simply approved a proposal purporting to simplify reporting of employment outcomes that was submitted by one Council member, Paul Mahoney, whose law school was among several that would benefit from the reclassification of law-school-funded positions.

More significantly, in approving the proposal, the Council also approved several other changes in reporting of employment outcomes that merit much more discussion. These changes, discussed below, were not meaningfully discussed in the proposal, nor do they appear to have been meaningfully discussed by the Council in approving the proposal. Once again, there was no notice of these changes, no chance for comment, and no presentation of possible concerns associated with these changes.

It pains me to write this, as I hold the members of the Council in high regard and believe the Council has done a very good job over the last several years navigating legal education through uncharted waters, particularly with its emphasis on increased transparency regarding conditional scholarships and employment outcomes.

In this instance, however, the Council’s laudable desire to support simplification in reporting of employment outcomes meant that a number of other policy considerations that merit much more attention and thoughtful deliberation did not get due consideration prior to the Council taking action that effectively erodes transparency. 

The Council should rescind its action, and send out the proposed changes for notice and comment and for consideration by the Standard’s Review Committee, which can give due consideration to intended and unintended consequences in recommending an appropriate set of changes regarding the reporting of employment outcomes.” [Emphasis mine]

Do you think they made this decision for the benefit of the applicants, or for the in$titution$ of “higher learning”? If you need to contemplate that for more than a microsecond, then you are not capable of representing others in legal matters.

Other Coverage: Also on August 3, 2017, Kyle McEntee posted an excellent ATL piece labeled “ABA Takes Giant Step Backwards On Transparency.” Read the following portion:

“Without public input, the Council for the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has rolled back measures that make law schools more transparent. The ABA has eliminated from the current consumer information report, available for every ABA-approved law school, several pertinent job categories. It has also obfuscated whether jobs are funded by the law school or earned on the open market. The result: students will be misled after years of progress. 

Both the process and substance have already stirred the ire of those in and around legal education.

To see why, it’s worth recounting the recent history of transparency at U.S. law schools. In 2010, my organization made national hay about deceptive employment statistics used by law schools and blessed by the ABA. In their marketing materials, law schools used a “basic employment rate,” typically ranging from 85% – 95% because the rate did not, among numerous flaws, distinguish between jobs at Starbucks, in the law library, and with major law firms. Schools would also advertise six-figure salaries without reporting response rates, which were sometimes as low as 10%. As a result, the ABA and law schools took a beating in the national press, which undoubtedly contributed to demand for law school decreasing dramatically.

Fast forward a few years, beginning with job statistics for the class of 2011, and the ABA began to require law schools to publish far more transparent data. This was accomplished through a very public, deliberative process. In subsequent years, the ABA made additional changes to data collection, reporting, and publishing. Sometimes the changes were positive, other times they were not, but the process was collaborative and transparent. 

This June, the Council did a complete about-face when it implemented revised disclosures and ordered a change to the data collection/reporting process. There was no public notice and comment. Neither Law School Transparency nor the National Association for Law Placement, a key player in law school jobs data reporting since the 1970s, were even privately consulted. Jim Leipold, NALP’s executive director, told me that “NALP was not involved in the decision. Technically, no one was. They did this behind closed doors without any period of notice and comment.” [Emphasis mine]

I’m not surprised that the ABA didn’t talk to LST. However, the fact that they did not consult NALP shows that they don’t respect the process.

Conclusion: In the final analysis, morons will continue to enroll in low-ranked law schools that offer pathetic employment prospects – even with transparent figures regarding outcomes. ABA-accredited diploma mills don’t want to risk losing out on some of the relative few marginal college grads who will reconsider attending a place that has a weak outlook. You, the student, are a mere mean$ to an end, i.e. large bags of federal loan money.


  1. 90% of law schools are a waste of space. And I'm lowballing it.

    1. Yes. The actual figure is about 94%.

  2. Why don't they just issue law degrees to every single person who really really wants to be a lawyer? And say charge them each $50K?

  3. Write to your senators and representative, and to the Department of Education. External pressure may help stop this.

  4. The ABA is only concerned with the top 10% of the profession including the lawprofs and deans. It's a bifurcated profession. And it's been that way so long that they'll keep it that way. They don't give a shit about the small law guys making $40k a year. That should be clear to anyone.

  5. Yikes, the ABA is backsliding so soon on transparency! Looks like it's time to get a new accreditation agency.

    1. About a decade ago, the legal profession in England and Wales lost the power to supervise itself. Now a government-appointed body with lay members fills that role. Why? Because the profession had demonstrated that it couldn't or wouldn't conduct itself with real regard for the public.

      Likewise, the ABA $erve$ certain intere$t$, the public be damned. It has no business administering the law schools. Throw it out and set up a public agency instead.

    2. Old Guy, that was the same institution that announced that law school would no longer be required to be a solicitor starting in 2020, because:
      1. It's too expensive
      2. The curriculum is outdated
      3. The curriculum is irrelevant to the work of the solicitor.

    3. Old Guy, I'm curious at the outcome in Whales/England with the change you mentioned?

      In pharmacy, the board is either indirectly benefiting from the chains or are socially awkward types with delusions of grandeur.

      I always thought it would be better to have a government agency; however, I don't see that being great either.

  6. What's next for these pigs? Get rid of incoming lsat scores for each school?


    Remember when $enator Barbara Boxer made some noise against the ABA cartel? That was damn nearly six and a half years ago.


    On March 31, 2011, Barbara Boxer, U.S. senator from California, sent the above letter to ABA “president” Stephen Zack. Here is an excerpt:

    “Most students reasonably expect to obtain post-graduation employment that will allow them to pay off their student loan debts, and rely on this information - which may be false at worst and misleading at best - to inform their decision.”

    Nothing has changed. The American Bar Association cockroaches still govern the law school diploma mills.

    Also, from that entry:


    On March 4, 2010, Brian Leiter, law professor at the University of Chicago, reported:

    “CA Bar President Howard Miller (whose son, by the way, is well-known crim law scholar and U of Arizona professor Marc Miller) writes in part:

    “There is notoriously unreliable self-reporting by law schools and their graduates of employment statistics. They are unreliable in only one direction, since the self-reporting by law schools of “employment” of graduates at graduation and then nine months after graduation are, together, a significant factor in the U.S. News rankings — which are obsessed over, despite denials, by law schools and their constituencies....

    [W]e need to be transparent with potential lawyers about the cost and benefits of studying law. All law schools need to gather, verify and report, in consistent and specified ways, the employment record of their graduates, as well report on those who may have started, paid tuition, but never graduated. A good place to start is with our own California-accredited and registered law schools, over which the State Bar and the Committee of Bar Examiners have jurisdiction.”

    Apparently, the ABA would rather keep prospective law students in the dark regarding employment prospects. What a "just" organization, huh?!

  8. If the JD didn't cost a quarter of a million dollars, it would scarcely be distinguishable from a plastic ring in a fucking box of Cracker Jack.

  9. Law skools are close to open admissions. That alone tells you this is not a real profession.


    From the Comments section of Jerry Organ's post on the TaxProg blog, which was cited in the main entry.

    Courtesy of an anonymous poster on August 3, 2017 10:06:41 AM:

    "This reeks...What a slimy cartel."

    This next one was posted by "Jr Prof" on August 3, 2017 at 12:32:16 PM:

    "This is really disgusting and can't be justified or defended on any reasonable basis. It seems like we are going backwards if the goal was to protect our students as consumer of our products."

    Lastly, this gem from "Unemployed Northeastern," provided on August 3, 2017 12:44:26 PM:

    "Can't say I find this surprising, given the change in leadership at the Department of Education since NACIQI threatened to pull the ABA's accreditation powers for exactly this sort of nonsense last summer. Now we have the neo-Calvinist whose family money was made via the barely-legal pyramid, I mean multi-level marketing, scheme known as Amway in charge of making the decisions. Shocker! She's in favor of private, for-profit, and scurrilous actors escaping regulation and scrutiny.

    Perhaps Senators Grassley should be made aware of this move, given that it was his consternation in the wake of early 2010's reporting on the law school crisis that caused the 'modern' ABA employment reports to come into existence. Senator Barbara Boxer, who shared Grassley's ire towards the ABA over all this, is no longer in office, but her successor is Kamala Harris, who I suspect may take a dim view of this retrograde motion by the ABA."

    In the end, Barbara Boxer and Charles Grassley were simply blowing smoke back when they made some noise about the ABA being irresponsible. These bloviating gasbags never meant what they said about this lousy cartel. It doesn’t take much effort to have an intern or staff member post a quick press release about a topic. After all, it's more important to these "public servants" to attend their next big campaign fundraiser, with their owners/"donors."


    On August 7, 2017, the ABA Journal published a Stephanie Francis Ward piece that was entitled “ABA Legal Ed Council will talk more about how law school-funded jobs get reported.” Check out this opening:

    “Revisions to the ABA law school employment questionnaire—that, if implemented, will allow school-funded jobs meeting certain requirements to not be reported as such—will be discussed further this week, according to a memo from the chair of the council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.

    The move follows criticism of the change—including a petition to suspend the questionnaire”s implementation—with charges that the revision negates all recent action for greater transparency in employment data for recent law school graduates.

    Previously, school-funded jobs, most of which involve public interest or government work, were parsed out in the annual employment summaries. With the revision, jobs funded by law schools that are full-time, long-term, require bar passage and pay more than $40,000 annually “will not be identified as school-funded,” according to amemo (PDF) written by Barry Currier, the ABA’s managing director of accreditation and legal education, and Bill Adams, the deputy managing director of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.

    “My sense is that the council was persuaded that the changes were needed, that there was no reason to delay, and that the changes would be greeted with much relief by law schools across the country. The vote was taken on a voice vote. I do not recall hearing any dissent,” Gregory G. Murphy, a Montana lawyer who chairs the council, wrote in his Aug. 3 memo.

    When the council in June approved the revision, it was noted by Currier that generally, that sort of matter would be referred to the Standards Review Committee for comment. The council decided to adopt the employment questionnaire without sending it to the committee first, according to Murphy’s memo.

    “I am usually loath to urge reconsideration of settled matters. However, where there is reason to believe that a deviation from accepted practice has generated some unanticipated consequences, I think it appropriate to pause and reconsider, even if in the end the decision might well be the same,” wrote Murphy, adding that he’s recommending the council consider referring the issue to the Standards Review Committee for its view.”

    Perhaps, the public backlash – including from some decent law professors such as Jerry Organ – helped inspire the ABA tools to reconsider their decision. Then again, this may simply be a ruse for this corrupt organization to ostensibly “show” that they are all about transparency and helping students make informed choices.

  12. Idiots are still gonna idiot. I tried to talk one of my college friends out of getting a PhD about 6 years ago. The fool went for it. And now has another $70k in student loans. And still works in the same field. All of higher ed operates the same way. Educating too many people for too few jobs. MBAs are a joke too. But people are still gonna sign up because they think it has to lead to an improvement over their current crappy job making 15 bucks an hour.

  13. Nora Demleitner pulled this scam when I was at Hofstra. She did everything she could to hide the poor employment outcomes at Hofstra and she ruined many lives.

  14. This is a classic iteration of The Law School Scam. Even WITH transparency, the numbers are gamed and outcomes cloaked in evasiveness. Now additional scamsters like Nancy DeVos are adding fuel to the fire helping real terlets like Charlotte keep the lights on.


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