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Author Topic: The ABA Under Fire. Finally!  (Read 619 times)

InterAlia1961

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The ABA Under Fire. Finally!
« on: August 12, 2011, 09:09:31 AM »
I certainly hope Congress and the public keeps the pressure on the ABA. The ABA is no longer relevant, and people's fortunes should not rise and fall based on some uber-academic social club.

ABA's stance on law school accreditation transparency fails to satisfy senator http://www.law.com/jsp/nlj/PubArticleNLJ.jsp?id=1202510863436&ABAs_stance_on_law_school_acc reditation_transparency_fails _to_satisfy_senator_
'Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.' ~Arthur Clarke

FalconJimmy

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Re: The ABA Under Fire. Finally!
« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2011, 09:35:53 AM »
You do realize that this inquiry is pushing them to accredit FEWER schools, right?  They're pushing for MORE restrictive accreditation standards (meaning Grassley wants fewer ABA law schools, not more) and the ABA is trying to accredit more schools.

The ABA is just setting standards.  they're willing to accredit any school that meets those standards.  Grassley wants them to stop.

"Has the ABA taken any steps to make these panels more representative of the legal profession as a whole in order to minimize the appearance of a conflict of interest in favor of accrediting more law schools to create more jobs in academia?" he wrote.

Grassley asked for further explanation of how a "more restrictive accreditation standards would 'deny access to the legal profession' and would violate the law," as the ABA has said.

jack24

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Re: The ABA Under Fire. Finally!
« Reply #2 on: August 12, 2011, 12:26:04 PM »
FalconJimmy:
I understand the argument about giving access to everyone who earns it.  I assume that most law students would still go to law school even if they know that there is only 1.2 jobs for every 2 graduates.  Employers probably like the glut of new attorneys as well because it gives them power to do pretty much whatever they want.  (Like offering $40,000 a year and still having a 1950 billable hour requirement.)

That said, the ABA should consider tuition costs in their analysis.  They should develop some ratio requirement that restricts total tuition costs to a certain percentage of the median salary of graduates 9 months after graduation.   If the school fails to meet the standard for three years in a row, it is placed on probation and must correct the problem within a certain number of years or lose accreditation.

The counter argument is to take a free market + personal responsibility approach--essentially saying that a school should be able to charge whatever they want as long as demand is there.   Unfortunately, the ABA is responsible for that inflated demand by requiring three years of attendance at ridiculously overpriced schools in order to take most states' bar exams.   I've mentioned this in other threads, but if my law school eliminated the third year (almost completely useless year for practical purposes)  it would lose more than three million dollars a year in revenue.   The ABA and state bar exams should only require 40-60 credits, rather than 90.  If employers wish to only hire students with 90 credits, they can impose that requirement.

As it stands, the ABA is giving accreditation to enough schools to produce far more graduates than necessary for the market, and they are requiring those graduates to spend money on a ton of credits that are completely unnecessary for employment or the bar exam. 

As an illustration of my point, let me compare my third year to the third year of a classmate of mine.


Me:
Family Law
Bankruptcy
1st Amendment/Media Law
Law Review
Moot Court
Advanced Criminal Procedure
Federal Jurisdiction
Employment Law


Classmate:
Independent research: 4 credits
Judicial Clinic: 6 credits
Externship Clinic: 6 credits
American Legal History (paper only)
Mediation Lab over christmas break (3 credits)
Health Care Regulation seminar (2 credits, paper only)


Which schedule was better?  Who knows.  But he didn't have to take any finals, and he only had to go to a regular class for 3 credits over the entire third year.  The point isn't that his practical approach was worse, but rather that the ABA, the school, and the state bar didn't care that he took this approach.   He paid the school thousands of dollars to learn on his own through study and work.  Why couldn't he have just worked somewhere for free and spared himself the 3L cost.

My point in all this is that the ABA interferes with the free market by imposing restrictions that do not improve the quality of education or produce better qualified graduates.  So what's the point? 

FalconJimmy

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Re: The ABA Under Fire. Finally!
« Reply #3 on: August 12, 2011, 01:47:55 PM »
Personally, Jack, I think the problem is student loans.  People are very free with other people's money.  Granted, loans need to be paid back someday, but (some) people behave less judiciously if you give them easy credit.  (Which is why, for instance, the auto manufacturers are so willing to give 0% notes.)

The trouble is, how do you handle accessibility to education for people who lack means?

You're right that the requirements for ABA-accreditation should be reviewed and perhaps changed.  Heck, not that long ago, an LLB was all you needed to practice law.  Not long before that, you didn't need to attend law school at all. 

However, you have a lot of competing interests, here.

Anything that makes law school easier will create MORE lawyers.  So, making it cheaper and faster to get will make the existing problem worse.  That would please neither politicians like Grassley, nor the ABA, nor practicing attorneys who got their degrees under older, more stringent requirements.

I really don't have an answer to this.  As I've posted before, I'm not in the same boat as most law students.  If I were back in my early 20s again, I would not go to law school in this environment.  No way, no how.  (Granted, that'd be my 2nd thought, right after, "Holy **** I'm in my early 20s again!  YESSSSSS!!!")

How do you cull the herd, though?  I agree with the ABA position that if your school meets accreditation standards, then it should be accredited.  That's the way things should work in life.  You set a reasonable standard and if folks meet it, they meet it.

I do fear that any lessening to the standards will do to the JD what's already happened to the MBA.  Other than a handful of elite schools (and in MBA circles, the first tier is considered the top 20 or 25... and frankly some of them aren't really considered elite), an MBA is closerthanthis to becoming a completely meaningless credential.  You have so many small liberal arts colleges who simply cannot restrain themselves in pursuit of tuition-reimbursement and federal-loan money that they put out a truly ridiculous product in order to satisfy the need of people to get an MBA.

Even the very best business schools, if they have an "executive MBA" program, are basically saying, "we're total whores who have no academic integrity at all.  we trade dollars for sheepskins so long as you have enough dollars."

I really don't like the idea of making ABA standards LOWER.  You may have a point, but one of the purposes of accreditation is to provide a barrier to entry.

In my undergrad degree, I will honestly say that I bet everything I learned that I ended up using after graduation could have been taught in 1 year.  4 years?  What was the point?

The point was to put kids through an ordeal to give employers an idea of who can handle it and who can't.  The point was to make a baccalaureate degree something that signified something other than the ability to write a check.  Granted, I'm not sure a BA signifies much, but it at least shows you did what it took to get a BA.

jack24

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Re: The ABA Under Fire. Finally!
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2011, 02:14:01 PM »

In my undergrad degree, I will honestly say that I bet everything I learned that I ended up using after graduation could have been taught in 1 year.  4 years?  What was the point?

The point was to put kids through an ordeal to give employers an idea of who can handle it and who can't.  The point was to make a baccalaureate degree something that signified something other than the ability to write a check.  Granted, I'm not sure a BA signifies much, but it at least shows you did what it took to get a BA.

Then why not have physical fitness tests, a four year foreign volunteer requirement, and a two-year legal internship requirement?  Those things are every bit as relevant to your ability as a professional as the third year of law school.  I'm all for hoop jumping requirements, but they should be set by employers or customers/clients.  You want to be a banker?  Well the bank will tell you what they want.  If they want to be a bit on the lazy side and use a college education as a way to weed out applicants then fine. 
If you want to be a lawyer you have to satisfy the ABA even if an employer doesn't care.   If an employer is extremely impressed by a 2L summer clerk and wants to hire them immediately for a full-time attorney position, they simply can't.   
You have to get licensed to practice as an attorney, so you have to take the state bar, so you have to go to an ABA accredited school, so you have to work 20 hours or less while you spend 400-1300 per credit on 30 credits that are probably completely unrelated to the job you are applying for.






FalconJimmy

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Re: The ABA Under Fire. Finally!
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2011, 02:23:20 PM »
Then why not have physical fitness tests, a four year foreign volunteer requirement, and a two-year legal internship requirement? 

works for me!  Unfortunately (or fortunately), I don't make the decisions.  Some of them appear to be arbitrary, but some thought clearly went into them.  Perhaps some of it is that the degree is a JD, which sort of implies a longer program of study.  Maybe we should all be going to 2 year LLM programs and the JD should just be a degree for academics.

Julie Fern

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Re: The ABA Under Fire. Finally!
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2011, 06:39:49 PM »
julie think law schools should require understand julie.