The American Bar Association is considering imposing specific penalties for law schools that misrepresent graduate job placement data.

The organization announced on Oct. 17 that it was drafting a rule spelling out consequences for law schools that intentionally falsify jobs data, possibly including monetary fines or the loss of accreditation.

That directive came down from John O’Brien, chairman of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. O’Brien asked the ABA’s Standards Review Committee, which has been overhauling the organization’s law school accreditation standards, to draft an additional standard pertaining to the misrepresentation of job data.

Two law schools in the past year have admitted reporting inaccurately high grade-point averages and Law School Admission Test scores for incoming classes. In August, the ABA publicly censured Villanova University School of Law on that ground and ordered it to have its figures independently audited in the future. The ABA was still investigating the University of Illinois College of Law, which conceded goosing its numbers for several years.

ABA administrators had already decided to start collecting job data directly from law schools rather than using the National Association of Law Placement as an intermediary, saying that the change would allow the organization to audit the reported numbers.

U.S. senators Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) have criticized the ABA for failing to ensure that prospective law students receive accurate consumer information. Boxer and Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) wrote to the U.S. Department of Education on Oct. 13 requesting an investigation into several areas of law school data, including job placements.

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