Help Law School Transparency

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jenesaislaw
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Help Law School Transparency

Postby jenesaislaw » Mon Jul 05, 2010 7:56 pm

Some of you are familiar with Law School Transparency; but for those who are unaware, fellow TLSer observationalist and I have been working on this project for over a year now. Right now, we are gearing up for the official request. Our request includes four parts: the two lists (here (LinkRemoved), modification mentioned here (LinkRemoved)), a Dean's warranty (like this), and a supplemental information document.

This supplemental information document will serve to provide important context to the data on the two lists. At minimum, we include a space for "total graduates" for the time period (same one as the ABA, NALP, and U.S. News) and also an open area for law schools:

If your school would like to supplement the data and information provided with an explanation for a particularly high unemployment or unknown rate, or anything else relating to the data and information provided to LST, we encourage you to do so fairly and transparently in the space below. If more space is needed, please clearly label and attach the document. The attachment will appear on your school’s page on our website, http://www.lawschooltransparency.com.


What else do you think would be helpful and reasonable to request from schools? I have entertained a few ideas, like attrition, but want to hear some input from all of you.

On the note of attrition, we think the associated problems with the numbers weigh against including it. If everybody finished law school in 3 years, or followed predictable patterns (e.g. some go back and forth between FT and PT), it wouldn't be as much of a problem to boil it down to a single number or a couple of numbers. The ABA measures attrition by year, rather than by graduating class, but does not intend it to supplement the employment information. The fact that we intend it to supplement this particular data means we cannot do things that unreasonably risk misleading people, whether they know they're confused or not.

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Geat27
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Re: Help Law School Transparency

Postby Geat27 » Tue Jul 06, 2010 5:56 pm

Any data that would help to establish the average debt of a school's graduates.

Information about students' debt would help clarify the role of law schools in society: because to an extraordinary extent many law schools fund themselves through their students' debt and that fact ought to be revealed.

Kudos to your organization for pursuing the information in your lists! I wish there were a way to get more law students to lobby their administrations on your behalf.

tidepool
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Re: Help Law School Transparency

Postby tidepool » Tue Jul 06, 2010 8:58 pm

Wow, this project sounds awesome! Be sure to keep us updated! :D

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observationalist
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Re: Help Law School Transparency

Postby observationalist » Thu Jul 08, 2010 1:26 am

Geat27 wrote:Any data that would help to establish the average debt of a school's graduates.

Information about students' debt would help clarify the role of law schools in society: because to an extraordinary extent many law schools fund themselves through their students' debt and that fact ought to be revealed.

Kudos to your organization for pursuing the information in your lists! I wish there were a way to get more law students to lobby their administrations on your behalf.


Debt is a good idea... some schools (notably state schools) distinguish themselves by producing grads with lower debt loads, and there should be a way to give them more recognition for that. That would be something a school would include in their supplemental information.

It would be even better, of course, to have debt levels lined up with starting salaries. But disclosing the debt levels of every graduate would be difficult because of the privacy issues. Debt is more meaningful when you tack it on to the salary and location of each graduate (e.g. a graduate making $160K in NY with $200K in debt doesn't necessarily look so great as a grad making $90K with $40K in debt, or a grad making $160K with the same debt in Houston where the COL is much lower, or a grad making $50K at a 501(c)(3) with $200K in debt, but who plans on doing 10 years of qualifying public interest work to have the majority of that debt forgiven by the feds.) There are a lot of stories to tell in each class and I'm sure they go both ways... people foregoing a government job they really wanted because their debt was so high it forced them into a private sector job, or people taking out full debt loads expecting a six-figure gig only to have that option foreclosed to them. Schools could also be conducting satisfaction surveys that include questions about debt levels (though I would imagine just about anyone graduating with any level of debt right now is going to complain about it).

As far as getting law students to lobby, we've talked about getting student bar associations on board, including former bar association presidents who are now out in practice. They're the students who get the most face-time with the administration, so they could potentially be very persuasive in convincing schools to comply. If anyone happens to be in such a position and wants to help, let us know.

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observationalist
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Re: Help Law School Transparency

Postby observationalist » Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:14 pm

Update: As of today we've sent out the official request to the Deans, Career Services offices, and Admissions office of every ABA-approved and provisionally-approved law school. Every TLSer about to matriculate should know that your new school is being given 60 days to decide whether or not they want to commit to the new employment standard. We're encouraging everyone to contact your respective schools and let them know if you support the initiative. Contact them if you don't, too; we want to keep the discussion going after this cycle wraps up, and that means engaging schools in a public dialogue on the merits of LST's new standard.

Hopefully we'll see some coverage of this in the media, but for now if anyone has questions please feel free to weigh in here or on our website. Thanks gang.

-obs

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sanpiero
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Re: Help Law School Transparency

Postby sanpiero » Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:17 pm

observationalist wrote:Update: As of today we've sent out the official request to the Deans, Career Services offices, and Admissions office of every ABA-approved and provisionally-approved law school. Every TLSer about to matriculate should know that your new school is being given 60 days to decide whether or not they want to commit to the new employment standard. We're encouraging everyone to contact your respective schools and let them know if you support the initiative. Contact them if you don't, too; we want to keep the discussion going after this cycle wraps up, and that means engaging schools in a public dialogue on the merits of LST's new standard.

Hopefully we'll see some coverage of this in the media, but for now if anyone has questions please feel free to weigh in here or on our website. Thanks gang.

-obs


This is unbelievable. Great work guys!

GettingReady2010
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Re: Help Law School Transparency

Postby GettingReady2010 » Mon Jul 12, 2010 8:49 pm

I like this idea.

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observationalist
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Re: Help Law School Transparency

Postby observationalist » Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:20 pm


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webbylu87
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Re: Help Law School Transparency

Postby webbylu87 » Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:25 pm

Geat27 wrote:Any data that would help to establish the average debt of a school's graduates.

Information about students' debt would help clarify the role of law schools in society: because to an extraordinary extent many law schools fund themselves through their students' debt and that fact ought to be revealed.

Kudos to your organization for pursuing the information in your lists! I wish there were a way to get more law students to lobby their administrations on your behalf.


In a similar vein, I'd really like it if public schools would provide different average debt figures for in-state and OOS students. I've asked several schools if they offer different figures and they say they do not. It would be very helpful for those weighing attending a public school as a possibly more financially viable option. Just a thought.

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Thomas Jefferson
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Re: Help Law School Transparency

Postby Thomas Jefferson » Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:46 pm

Perhaps you could have some form email people can use to contact their schools showing support for your project?

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observationalist
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Re: Help Law School Transparency

Postby observationalist » Tue Jul 13, 2010 7:26 pm

webbylu87 wrote:
Geat27 wrote:Any data that would help to establish the average debt of a school's graduates.

Information about students' debt would help clarify the role of law schools in society: because to an extraordinary extent many law schools fund themselves through their students' debt and that fact ought to be revealed.

Kudos to your organization for pursuing the information in your lists! I wish there were a way to get more law students to lobby their administrations on your behalf.


In a similar vein, I'd really like it if public schools would provide different average debt figures for in-state and OOS students. I've asked several schools if they offer different figures and they say they do not. It would be very helpful for those weighing attending a public school as a possibly more financially viable option. Just a thought.


Great point. If you can show public schools how it would be in their interest I'm sure they would start complying with requests like yours. It could help them retain top talent that might otherwise go private (or to a higher-ranked school in another region), but it could also make the idea of automatically paying more too much of a detractor for out-of-staters. This is definitely something to look into further. For now we're just sticking with getting better information on job outcomes and seeing what comes out of that.

I do think most schools that have found ways to keep average student debts low (including tuition decreases) should advertise that point, though most prospectives can add up the math on their own and figure out what their debt will look like in three years. Our concern is that even schools with comparatively low debt levels (like the state schools) might still be risky investments without more information on actual average post-grad salaries.

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observationalist
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Re: Help Law School Transparency

Postby observationalist » Tue Jul 13, 2010 7:29 pm

Thomas Jefferson wrote:Perhaps you could have some form email people can use to contact their schools showing support for your project?


Good thinking. We've been playing around with the idea and can discuss this at the next meeting. So long as enough people participated I think it could have a very positive impact. We've been getting a lot of responses directly from alumni offering to help, so at some point we need to figure out how best to put everyone's skills to work. Any ideas on that, let us know.

GettingReady2010
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Re: Help Law School Transparency

Postby GettingReady2010 » Tue Jul 13, 2010 7:43 pm

But if there's more transparency, how are law schools supposed to mislead potential law students? I mean if people aren't willing to go to 100s of thousands in debt at a horrible school, how are law schools supposed to remain open?




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