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U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer isn’t the only politician worried about the plight of jobless young lawyers. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the ranking Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter on Monday to American Bar Association President Stephen Zack asking for written responses to 31 questions about how the organization is regulating law schools. Boxer, D-Calif., has written two letters to Zack in recent months expressing concern over law graduate unemployment rates and the veracity of reported job statistics. Grassley cited a U.S. Department of Education hearing in June, during which the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, a committee reviewing accreditation agencies, found that the ABA had not complied with 17 rules. Among those violations, the panel said, was failure to set forth job placement requirements for law schools; to set a standard policy for recording student complaints; to fully explain accreditation decisions; and to track student loan default rates. The department gave the ABA one year to address the deficiencies. “My concern is that the ABA, which has the power to accredit law schools, was barely granted renewal recognition by the U.S. Department of Education’s accreditation experts,” Grassley wrote. “Moreover, in the eyes of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, the ABA appears to be doing little to assess student-loan default rates in its law school accreditation process.” Last month, ABA officials responded that nine of the violations were a result of recent regulations, and that it was working to come into compliance. The remaining eight violations were “procedural,” said Hulett “Bucky” Askew, the ABA’s consultant on legal education. “The [ABA] believes strongly that it will be able to demonstrate compliance with all the items well within the one-year period to report back,” Askew said. Grassley has asked for information pertaining to how the ABA regulates the distribution of merit-based scholarships; whether law schools are required to help students assess when they are borrowing too much money; and the number of law schools that have been accredited during the past 20 years. “Given the questions being raised by the increase of the number of law schools, the increase in graduate debt, and the decrease in graduate job prospects, this raises concerns regarding the ABA’s internal controls,” Grassley wrote. “As the Ranking Member of the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, I have an interest in the health of the legal profession.

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