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May 02, Heat vs. The first post is here ; the clear thinking and writing answers in lowest and more recent one is here. Unfortunately and surprisingly, my previous post has proved much more contentious than I anticipated, spawning dozens of Comments here and at least two posts on other blogs Mike Simkovic on the Leiter blog hereand Brian Galle on Prawfsblawg here.
As is so often the case, the contention seems to spring from a few basic but important confusions. Actual common ground having proved too scarce to hope for, in the interest of mutual comprehension I attempt here to untangle the skeins that the combatants seem to be throwing past one another.
I hope to clarify where and how we disagree, and why I hold the views I do. If you disagree, I invite you to explain clearly how and why. This post is a bit longer than usual around 2, words.
The public discourse on these issues is so mixed up that it takes some doing to untangle it. I beg your indulgence, and thank those who make it to the end for their dedication and patience.
The heavy lifting begins after the jump. There appears to be little disagreement among the recent contributors to the debate that, beforethe ABA allowed individual law schools to report and publicize entry-level law-graduate employment statistics at more or less the same level of detail and in more or less the same terms as the U.
This is not, of course, to suggest that any of these jobs is not legitimate employment, but it is to suggest that some of them bear a lot less resemblance to the kind of jobs that some people might expect to get after spending the time and money necessary to obtain a law degree than others.
The recent debate has run the gamut, with arguments that the law-school reporting just described was a a bad practice, b not a bad practice, and even c a good practice. Those participating appear at different times to be evaluating the reporting with reference to at least three different standards: While each of these standards is significant, I hope it is clear that they are very different from one another.
Yet both those supporting and those condemning the reporting practices in question often invoke them interchangeably in the same argument. I personally have devoted no appreciable time or effort to the third question—whether these reporting practices are or were actionably unlawful.
Some litigators and commentators have insisted that they are torts or civil statutory violationssubject law-school administrators to professional discipline as violations of the Rules of Professional Conductand are even criminal.
My own view is that, while those questions are obviously critical when posed in litigation, they are not nearly as useful in the discussion I want to have about the right thing to do.
Some state courts did not dismiss suits against law schools for misleading marketing on that ground. We recognize that students may be susceptible to misrepresentations by law schools.
Given this reality, it is important to remember that the practice of law is a noble profession that takes pride in its high ethical standards. Defendant [law school] and its peers owe prospective students more than just barebones compliance with their legal obligations.
Defendant and its peers are educational not-for-profit institutions. They should be dedicated to advancing the public welfare. Not every problem has to be solved by a cause of action, and in my own view reasonable people could differ about whether some of the problems specifically identified in these cases should be, or whether they might be better addressed by other means, for example regulatory steps such as those the ABA has actually taken in this instance.
Habitual commenters in this space who are tempted to explode in indignation should review the deliberately limited scope of that last sentence carefully.
But surely no one thinks that ought to be the end of the discussion, other perhaps than a few radical libertarians and Ayn Rand fanatics, who may imagine that very little should be unlawful, and anything that is not unlawful is admirable good practice if you want to pursue your self-interest by doing it.
What the New York appellate decision illustrates is that there are lots of things that may not be illegal, but are still unethical, immoral, or just bad practice, and may appropriately be condemned as such. Once we get to this point, my own views are pretty simple: Also factually, quite a few of those same people were and are specifically interested in attending law school or having their family member attend law school in order to become a lawyer, so full-time, long-term placements as lawyers actually matter to them.
What career you may prefer to pursue at any point in your life is an individual choice that you get to make for yourself. There are, after all, degrees of bad. As a matter of sound public policy and good practice, I have several things to say: And their more recent paper appears to conclude that what or how financially you do right out of law school is not a good predictor of the sole metric they deem important, namely career-long earning power.
If you accept this point of view, then what percentage of recent law-school graduates have any kind of job whether or not full-time, long-term, or law-related is just as irrelevant if not misleading as any other short-term statistic.
It is at best no better for the single genuinely relevant inquiry that your point of view demands you pursue earnings over an entire career than the more granular information that the ABA demands schools report now. Next, assuming that you get over the hurdle just discussed, and believe that near-term post-graduation employment outcomes have some useful informational value, you might ask yourself in deciding what is good practice 1 what information would likely matter to the likely users of the information; and 2 who is in the best position to supply it.
As to the first question—what might matter to whom—again I think the answer is fairly clear. And if for some reason you are concerned about who has any job of any kind, you can easily construct that from several of the mutually exclusive subcategories that the ABA now requires. As to the second question—who is in the best position to provide this information—again the answer seems clear.
We often allocate the responsibility of supplying needed information to the lowest-cost provider. Here the law schools have access to their recent graduates far more easily than any prospective law student or other user of the employment-outcome information, and one school can track hundreds of its recent graduates with no duplicated effort, and relatively modest effort overall.The Detailed Plot Outline.
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