August 2, 2011
NALP on ABA Job Reporting: Not So Fast There Buddy
There is at least one or more angles to the ABA upping its law school data placement information I'd like to mention. See Joe's post from earlier today, ABA Revises Law School Placement Data Reporting Requirements. The first is that I suspect this is motivated by some of the bad publicity schools are getting for the number of available jobs compared to incurred debt, combined with the perception that the ABA is sitting on its hands when it comes to dealing with the problem. Pressure coming from members of Congress only adds to that perception. See my post, ABA Responds to Senator Grassely.
The second angle comes from the National Law Journal story which reports that the National Association of Law Placement (NALP) is upset with the ABA's move. The problem is not because it's a bad idea, but because the ABA appears to be cutting NALP out of its longstanding role of collecting and analyzing the data collected from the law schools. NALP is incensed enough to threaten litigation. NALP Executive Director James Leipold characterizes the ABA as trying to control the data so it could control its interpretation. I can't imagine. That is so unlike the ABA (rolls eyes as the words are typed). Hulett "Bucky" Askew said the ABA should play a more direct role in the employment reporting process. Better to be proactive I guess before Congress or anyone else starts to ask more pointed questions about the ABA's oversight of law schools.
As reported by the NLJ, NALP has three concerns:
- That law school career services offices will be burdened by reporting two different sets of employment and salary statistics, one for NALP and one for the ABA.
- That fewer law schools would report statistics to NALP, because doing so is voluntary while reporting directly to the ABA is mandatory. That, in turn, would hurt NALP's ability to provide insight into the legal job market.
- That the ABA is appropriating NALP's intellectual property, in the form of its jobs survey.
The last one drew no comment from Askew other than law schools are free to report data to both organizations. Leipold said NALP wouldn't hesitate from pursuing litigation if the ABA gets too close to NALP intellectual property. It should be an interesting law suit if it ever gets filed. The discovery process could yield a lot of information on the ABA's law school governance policies. That risk may motivate the ABA to come up with a solution that works for both organizations. We'll see. [MG]