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ABA Responds to U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer Regarding Legal Education Issues

CHICAGO, Oct. 20, 2011 — The _ Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has responded to an Oct. 6 letter from U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) requesting information about several legal education issues: collection of employment/placement data, merit scholarships and scholarship retention.  The section’s response, including an offer to meet with the senator at her convenience, is accompanied by a letter from ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III.

The response details changes in the way the section will collect law school employment and placement data.  In the past, that information was collected by the National Association of Law Placement; however, going forward the information will be reported directly to the section.  In making the change, the section suggests the reporting will be more accurate, timely, complete and specific than in the past.

Going forward, law schools will be required to report for each graduate: employment status, employment type, employment location, salary, whether a position is short-term or long-term, and whether a position is funded by the school itself.  The section is currently refining definitions related to employment type: bar passage required, J.D. advantage, other professional, nonprofessional, and whether a position is full time or part time.  This information will be required when the definitions have been finalized and will be included in the 2011 annual questionnaire.

In light of recent revelations of violations or possible violations of Standard 509 of the Standards for Approval of Law Schools, the section is working on a new standard that would provide for specific and severe penalties for intentional misreporting of basic consumer information.

Finally, the section is investigating the issues related to scholarship retention, and will be actively addressing them this fall.  While the section does not specify requirements for the renewal of law school scholarships, it recognizes the consumer information implications of this issue, and will be looking at ways to address it through the annual questionnaires and accreditation standards.

The section’s response and letter are available here.

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.

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