Should Employment Be Considered in Law School Accreditation?

law school employment accreditation standardYou’ve seen the headlines in your news-feed. “Bar passage rates are dropping.” “Law graduate employment is down, while law school debt continues to climb.” There is a crisis in legal education, and one member of the ABA Council of the Section of Legal Education believes he has a solution. 

Scott Norberg, law professor at Florida International University and current member and former Deputy Managing Director of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, thinks revising the law school accreditation standards can help. Norberg laid the framework for these changes in an article he published last month making a case for including graduate employment into the standards. 

In the article, Norberg proposes a new idea for a law school accreditation standard. It would require a law school to show that two of its last five graduating classes have at least 60 percent of graduates landing employment in full-time, long-term, bar passage required or JD-advantage jobs within 10 months of graduation. 

He goes on to propose that schools could also be in compliance if they can showcase 75 percent of graduates with the same degree of employment after 22 months have passed. 

According to Norberg, the new employment rate standard fills the gap in the current law school accreditation standards to pursue admissions policies that minimize enrollment reductions without regard to the impact on employment outcomes. He feels that the new standard could be included into the current set of accreditation standards or even replace the bar passage standard altogether. 

Coincidentally, his article was published after the ABA Council of the Section of Legal Education presented a proposal to simplify the bar passage requirement in the law school accreditation standards to the ABA House of Delegates at the ABA’s Mid-Year meeting. The House of Delegates rejected it, sending the proposal back with potential for future consideration. 

The managing director of the section said Norberg’s proposal wasn’t up for discussion on the organization’s approved working agenda for 2017-2018. However, he didn’t discount the idea of including it later on down the road. 

What do you think? Should law schools factor in the importance of law school graduate employment into the standards? Share with us in the comments below. 

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