An Indiana University law professor is calling on the American Bar Association to clear up how law schools are rated. William Henderson wants the ABA to begin auditing how many law school graduates are gainfully employed in their field of study soon after graduation. The current system rating agencies like U.S. News and World Report use only tracks how many graduates get jobs, regardless of where. Henderson said it’s a system law schools have known for years is broken, but which cannot be fixed without overarching control by an outside body.
“We need to have a deterrence to bad behavior,” Henderson said. “Because unfortunately when you don’t have police on the beat, crime pays. And so, you have two or three schools that can rationalize how to treat their numbers and they get a competitive advantage because no one is policing the numbers. And that’s what’s produced this situation.”
But ABA accreditation committee chairman and Valparaiso University Law School dean Jay Conison said for the Bar Association to assume such a role, two changes would have to be made.
“Right now that’s not what the main purpose of accreditation is. The main purpose of accreditation is to ensure the quality of the educational program. Second, of course, it would have to be understood that the law schools that are affected by this would have to ultimately bear the cost of it.”
The cost, Henderson and Conison agree, would largely be associated with changing the system by which employment numbers are queried by schools and by rankings agencies.