Advocates for Starving Advocates

Law Schools’ Struggle With Counting Continues

WATCHDOG SAYS SCHOOLS FAIL TO MEET ABA REQUIREMENTS ON REPORTING JOB DATA

The long-term battle between legal educators and counting remains unresolved according to the watchdogs at Law School Transparency. Counting, the¬†action of finding the number of elements in a finite set of objects, has long plagued law schools, particularly when it comes to finding the number graduates from each school who have found jobs in the legal field. This task once befuddled law schools to such a degree that they would count, say, a waiter at Applebee’s as pretty much a lawyer almost. Recognizing that counting can be quite difficult, the American Bar Association issued specific guidelines in 2012 to ensure that no Applebee’s waiter would ever again be asked to deliver a motion for discovery with that riblet basket.

As simple and specific as the ABA guidelines may be, schools are apparently still struggling to get it right based on a comprehensive review of data posted on the web sites of 199 ABA schools provided by the non-profit counting aces at Law School Transparency. The report is quite good, and we recommend you follow that link in the previous sentence to check it out. LST was founded in 2009 by then-Vanderbilt law students, which begs the question: Is reviewing law-job data a law job? (Seriously, someone in Vanderbilt’s career services department would love to know, so they check the right box on that now-mandated ABA form).

Anyway, LST reviewed the data from the Class of 2011 (the first to fall under ABA guidelines), and its report throws up red flags when schools fall short in reporting their methodology, fail to post required data to their web site or report incomplete information. In summarizing its findings, LST said exactly what we were thinking: “There has been much ado about the improved accreditation standards, but the improvements are meaningless without compliance and enforcement.”

Thankfully, someone has the time and inclination to review this data, which is difficult, because as former law students, the proprietors of Law School Transparency were almost certainly smothered in riblet sauce after pulling many double shifts at the ‘Bees.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Dave Brown is a founding partner of Boston MicroLaw, LLP, and recently started blogging about Small Business Formation in Boston. His Applebee’s application was dismissed with prejudice.¬†