Staff Editorial: Providing better post-law school numbers

Students weighing the option of going to law school – and the likelihood of getting a job with a law degree – may have more help in the process if the American Bar Association implements its proposal for law school accreditation standards.

Some facets of the proposal are surrounded by controversy. But one aspect of the proposal that should become standard is that law schools would have to disclose students’ employment status after nine months, information that is sometimes unreported.

We ultimately support this aspect of the proposal, and believe that as an issue within higher education, the ABA needs to move forward and make this a requirement for law schools.

In today’s economy there can be more law school graduates than jobs available, and these numbers would provide more detailed context for those looking to go to law school. These schools have a responsibility to provide their students with the required knowledge and skills, and should provide the most information about their graduates’ abilities to find employment.

Currently, law schools are able to pick and choose which figures they provide. Schools aren’t required to disclose the percentage of employed graduates working in part-time or non-legal jobs, or those whose employment is unknown.

But if implemented, the new standard would ultimately provide more transparency in the higher education field. And in a city where law students are very likely to end up in non-legal jobs, this information is important.

Students seeking law degrees rightfully expect quality employment after graduation. They should be afforded job information from their prospective law schools so they can make the best decisions for their futures. By mandating that law schools report their employment numbers, they will be held accountable by the publications that rank them and also by students who seek their scholarship.

The changes may not be the most transparent, as several groups including Law School Transparency, a Tennessee-based nonprofit started last year by two Vanderbilt University law students, have said they want even more information. But it is a step in a promising direction, and we hope to see the American Bar Association, with the input of prominent law school administrators and professionals, adopt this facet of the proposal.

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