Re: Another Reason to Hate the ABA

by Ed Whelan

“Young lawyers with huge educational debts and no jobs in a depressed U.S. legal market should have known what they were getting into, the president of the American Bar Association said on Wednesday,” according to this Reuters article titled “ABA head has little sympathy for jobless lawyers.” According to the ABA president, William T. Robinson III:

It’s inconceivable to me that someone with a college education, or a graduate-level education, would not know before deciding to go to law school that the economy has declined over the last several years and that the job market out there is not as opportune as it might have been five, six, seven, eight years ago.

I’m all for expecting young adults to act like adults and to take responsibility for their own decisions. But that doesn’t mean they should be lied to or misled.

In addition to hastily dismissing concerns that the ABA’s accrediting process has driven up the price of attending law school, Robinson ignores the fact that, as law professor Brian Tamanaha has put it, “many law schools present employment information in a misleading fashion, or don’t disclose it at all.” Worse, according to allegations in lawsuits, some ABA-accredited schools “fraudulently inflated post-employment graduation and salary statistics to lure prospective students.” These allegations, I hasten to emphasize, may turn out to be untrue. But Robinson implicitly presumes them to be untrue, perhaps because that’s more convenient than exploring whether the ABA has adequately exercised its accrediting authority to ensure that law schools accurately collect and present employment data.

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