ABA Responds to U.S. Senator Charles Grassley Regarding Legal Education Issues

CHICAGO, Aug. 29, 2011  –  The _ Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has responded to an Aug. 8th letter from U.S. Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) requesting information about law school accreditation and student lending.  The section’s detailed response, including an offer to meet with the senator at his convenience, is accompanied by a letter from ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III.

The response addresses Sen. Grassley’s questions on the issues of law student loan default rates, scholarship retention and employment in the legal job market.

Regarding student loan default rates, the response notes that current ABA accreditation standards require law schools to “take reasonable steps to minimize student loan defaults, including provision of debt counseling at the inception of a student’s loan obligations and prior to graduation.”

The section will be considering in the near future a recommendation that law schools be required to publish scholarship retention rates.

With regard to the legal job market, the section describes current accreditation standards that take job placement information into account as a key measure of a law school’s educational program, and also require that law schools provide career counseling services.  Recently implemented changes to the section’s annual questionnaire ask law schools for more detailed reporting of employment data, including types of employment, whether employment is long-term or short-term, whether the position is funded by the law school or associated university, and other additional data points.

The section’s response and letter are available here.

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The Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar and its Accreditation Committee are both recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) as the only federal accreditors for programs leading to the first degree in law. In this function, the Section and its Council are separate and independent of the ABA, as required by DOE regulations.

With nearly 400,000 members, the _ is the largest voluntary professional membership organization in the world.  As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.