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It seems like it’s one step forward and two steps back for Law School Transparency, the Tennessee nonprofit pushing law schools to make more-detailed employment data available to prospective students. The one school that had committed to participating in Law School Transparency — Ave Maria Law School — has announced that it won’t share employment data after all. “Initially, we were interested in participating in the Transparency Project because we felt that leadership was needed in disclosing to the public appropriate information related to the costs and benefits of attending law school,” Dean Eugene Milhizer said in a written statement on Feb. 24. “Since our earlier indication that we would provide data, the ABA has undertaken concrete action to address this issue, and we are satisfied that meaningful steps are in motion.” The school was worried about protecting the confidentiality of students should it turn over the information, Milhizer said. Administrators now plan to wait for the ABA to act, he said. Several ABA committees are looking at the existing jobs and tuition reporting requirements and are weighing proposals to mandate further disclosures. Ave Maria’s about-face won’t sink the mission of Law School Transparency, said Executive Director Kyle McEntee. “We view Law School Transparency as the way to set an example, but participating in our survey is secondary to the mission of getting better information into the hands of prospective students,” he said. Even if law schools decline to complete Law School Transparency’s employment survey, which seeks data on individual graduates rather than the general class breakdowns required by the ABA and U.S. News & World Report, the group is pushing for schools to make their standard employment statistics available faster, McEntee said. For example, the National Association of Law Placement, the ABA and U.S. News all collect data on employment nine months after graduation, which is February for May graduates. However, those statistics generally aren’t made public until the summer — too late for students to consider the fates of the previous graduating class before deciding if and where to enroll. “We’re lobbying schools to share as much as possible,” McEntee said.

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