Law schools’ nine-month-after-graduation employment statistic isn’t going anywhere just yet.
The American Bar Association’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar on Friday delayed any decision on moving back the collection of law school grads’ jobs data by one month.
Some law school deans have asked for the change, arguing that bar examiners slow to release test results depress schools’ employment numbers. An ABA committee recommended the change, noting that large states including California and New York tend to release bar exam results relatively late, and that employers increasingly will not hire attorneys who aren’t yet licensed.
The reporting date would be moved from February 15 to March 15.
An ABA spokesman said the council wanted to allow more time for public comments.
Deborah Jones Merritt, a professor at Ohio State University Michael E. Moritz College of Law, applauded the delay.
"Measuring employment outcomes is important for schools, students, prospective students, graduates, and scholars who study the legal market," Merritt wrote on the Law School Café blog. "Any change from the current date requires careful evaluation — and, given the value of comparing outcomes over time, should have to overcome a strong presumption against change."
The ABA since 1996 has been requiring law schools to report the number of graduates who have found jobs as of nine month after graduation. It recently has begun releasing jobs data faster so the most up-to-date numbers are available to prospective law students before they must decide where to attend.
While the council declined to act on the employment-reporting proposal, it did approve a new version of accreditation Standard 509, eliminating the requirement that law school report jobs data nine months after graduation. (The schools still must report employment data, but there will be not specific deadline for data collection within the standard.)
The House of Delegates is slated to consider the revised Standard 509 during its annual meeting in August, and must do so before the legal education council could move back the data collection timeline.
The council plans to reconsider the delay in August and could still adopt the change in time to gather data from this year’s graduating class.
Contact Karen Sloan at firstname.lastname@example.org.