On Law School Changes, ABA Has Full Plate

Published: Mar 31, 2011

Topics: Education  Grad School  

The legal educators convening at the American Bar Association meeting this weekend have got themselves a full, overflowing plate. Charged with accusations of fraud, and questioned about the value of a law degree, law schools have been gifted with the added fortune of seeing applications plummet. Amidst all the criticism and an improving job market, law schools have many changes to discuss.

Proposals on the agenda include:

Requiring law schools to post detailed job-placement data and cost information on their websites.

Removing references to tenure from the accreditation standards. This doesn’t mean scrapping tenure altogether, but it would no longer be a condition  for receiving accreditation. Schools could find cheaper ways to ensure that law school professors—among the best-paid in academia—have academic freedom.

Raising the required bar exam passage rate from 75 percent to 80 percent.

Dropping the LSAT as an admissions requirement

Requiring schools to design and institute new methods that gauge student learning

Don’t expect much hemming and hawing to take place, though. The committee will be moving at a brisk pace, with each member given only 10 minutes to discuss the range of topics.

"My biggest concern is that they want to do way too much all at once," [Association of American Law Schools prez] Mr. Olivas said in an interview this week. "It is difficult to understand how the proposals interrelate unless they're examined together, and some of the proposed changes were only posted online less than two weeks before the deadline for people who want to speak to submit written comments," he said.

Excellent point, Mr. Olivas, who also said: "This wasn't designed to be a discourse, but a slam, bam, thank you, ma'am."

[Chronicle of Higher Ed]