Sunday, December 18, 2016

Is the ABA violating its own protocol for auditing law school employment survey results?

In my last two posts, I criticized ABA managing directors Barry Currier and William Adams for asserting, on the basis of highly deferential preliminary audits of the annual employment survey results from 10 randomly selected law schools, that law schools were accurately reporting their placement results. See here and here

These posts did not receive the customary number of page views or comments. The reason, I strongly suspect, is that I am one of the few persons, other than sub-150 LSAT-scoring 21-year olds, who was sufficiently naive to believe that the ABA audit of would amount to something more than a public relations ploy. Law schools scam up their placement numbers without consequences. The sun also rises. What else is new?

Nonetheless, I am going to flog this hobbyhorse onwards for the length of at least one more boring post.

Recall that five out of the 10 law schools selected for a random annual audit did not comply with the ABA's preliminary stage requirement that no more than 5% of their employment files be deficient (i.e. incomplete, inaccurate, or misleading). Accordingly, Adams informed the ABA Council of the Section of Legal Education by memo that a three-member ABA committee would decide, as a matter of discretion, which of the five schools would be subject to Level 2 Review (A Level 2 Review involves independent verification of some of the reported data, unlike a first-stage audit, which basically just involves a review of employment files for completeness).  

In his memo, Adams stated that "If more than 5% of a school’s files are found to be deficient, a Level 2 Review. . .  may be ordered. . . . A committee of three persons, including me, has been appointed by the Data Policy Collections Committee to determine which of the schools with discrepancies should get elevated levels of review. . . After this further review of the schools with a compliance rate below 95%, the review committee will determine which of these schools may warrant a Level 2 Review." (emphasis added)

What is the problem here? The problem is that the ABA's "Protocol for Reviewing Law Graduate Employment Data, and Statement of Procedures for Collecting, Maintaining, and Reporting Law Graduate Employment Data" (hereafter: "Protocol") states that "If more than five percent (5%) of the Files are found to be deficient, the ABA will then proceed to a Level 2 Review." (emphasis added).  

Why then is there a need for Adams and the other two members of the review committee to deliberate and determine which of the five law school violators may be subjected to Level 2 review? Under the Protocol, they all should.  You see how the Protocol's "will then proceed" has turned into the memo's far more equivocal "may be ordered" and "which. . . may warrant"?  I think that every lawyer appreciates the often night and day difference between a mandatory procedure and a discretionary one, and Currier and Adams surely do. 

As a further confidence-builder, the members of this great triumvirate have been appointed by a larger ABA committee known as the Data Policy & Collections Committee (DPCC). The DPCC consists of two law school deans, two associate law school deans, four law school professors, one director of law school admissions (at bottom-tier New England Law), and one dean emeritus. So the three member review committee was specially selected by a group of persons who have a vested interest in the public perception that law schools are modeling the values of professionalism and are accurately representing that a JD usually leads to a good job.

Consider the following significant defects in the ABA Protocol and in the way the audit has been managed by Currier and Adams: (1) Only 10  out of the 205 accredited law schools, were selected for a random audit, a disturbingly small pool that Currier has no intention of expanding. (2) The first stage of an audit consists "solely" of a review of the employment files themselves and does not involve independent verification or confirmation of reported data. (3) The first stage of an audit accords the school a presumption that its employment files are complete, accurate and not misleading, absent credible evidence to the contrary. (4) Under the Protocol, up to 5% of a school’s employment files may be found to be incomplete, inaccurate or misleading without triggering additional review. (5) According to Currier, the names of the five schools that did not comply with designated minimum standards will not be publicly revealed.

Now consider the following praiseworthy aspects of the ABA Protocol, those that may genuinely protect consumers by deterring or exposing scammed-up employment survey results: (1) According to the Protocol, if more than 5% of a school’s files are found to be incomplete, inaccurate, or misleading, that school will be subjected to independent verification of some of its reported data, aka Level 2 review. (2) Sorry, this list only runs to one item. And yet it is this verification provision that has been quietly diluted. 

It is distressing that the ABA is, seemingly, unwilling to enforce its own standards. Are law school employment survey results anything more than fantasy fiction in highly granular numeric form?  Who knows?  The law school scam abides. 


  1. The cockroaches do not want to engage in a level 2 review, because then there might be pressure to actually do something to the commodes. These are money pits that pay "professors" and deans handsomely. The pigs don't want to squash that cart.

  2. Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance KingDecember 18, 2016 at 8:29 AM

    Listen perspective students: Take it from nearly a 30 year veteran. The ABA is not a credible source of information. They are a trade group out to promote an industry and nothing more. No different than the Retail Federation, American Trucking Association, National Restaurant Association. Just because it says "Bar" does not mean anything. They are not officials. As a matter of fact, President Bush "decertified" their unofficial influence over Supreme Court Justice nominees. He was spot on and I did not vote for him.

  3. They know that their days are numbered, this is nothing more than dilatory tactic and cya move for the parasites.

  4. It's not an audit unless a completely independent party performs it. If the ABA cannot appoint a truly independent audit committee, then the Department of Education should step in and appoint one itself. It should bother taxpayers that hundreds of millions of dollars in Federal loans still go out each year to law schools nearly a decade after the market for entry-level lawyers tanked. There needs to be an account of this money sooner rather than later, and in the meantime a halt to new loans, which no-one in their right mind believes will ever be paid.

  5. Until I see the names of the ten schools that were "audited", I will not believe that the selection was random. At least I'd need to see a description of the supposedly random process.

    The ABA's minimal screening process should apply to all accredited law schools—and should cover the past three years, to make cooking the books more difficult. Every law school with a significant percentage of questionable records should be subjected to a full audit, with publication of the results.

  6. By the way, the ABA has the ugliest logo that I have ever seen. It looks like something that Dougie Fresh might have drawn in kindergarten.

  7. Imagining The Open ToadDecember 19, 2016 at 2:41 PM

    Hi dybbuk123, with apologies for thread jacking, I mention that CSOL has apparently lost ability for its students to get federal aid loans.


    1. That is tantamount to pulling the plug on Charlotte. I bet that before the end of January it will announce its plans to close just as quickly as it can.

    2. No question about it. The Feds just dropped an H-bomb on those mother f**kers. If this ruling stands, Charlotte is toast. I wonder how long before the Feds turn their attention to Arizona Summit, which has worse admission stats than Charlotte.

    3. This is a good start. Now, what about Cooley, Whittier, Valpo, LaVerne, John Marshall, Thomas Jefferson, and about 50 others?

      OTOH I wonder how long that decision will last under the Trump administration . . .

  8. The ABA is part of the problem. Really, they are the problem.

  9. Thank you Dybbuk for keeping the fire on this issue. It's probably the timing of the holiday season that is keeping the views down.

    1. No disrespect to Dybbuk, who is an outstanding scam blogger, but I suspect the fewer number of comments stems from the fact that most of us have known for a long time what the ABA is all about and are completely unsurprised by its unwillingness to enforce its own standards. It's a dog bites man story.

      Personally, I'd like to see a post on the recent developments with Charlotte. Also, the new 509 reports are out and up on LST. If you dig around, there is some real gold in there. Take a look at the numbers for Appalachian Law School and Arizona Summit for starters.

      Finally, as another year draws to a close, I'd like to thank Dybbuk, Old Guy, Duped and all the other contributers here as well as Nando over at TTR for the great work they do.

  10. Duped, did you see this?

    This is what will happen to non-traditionals who go to law school ... and most traditionals, as well.

    Student Loans Lead to Reduced Social Security Payments for More Older Borrowers

    Older Americans who defaulted on their federal student loans are increasingly having to repay them with portions of their Social Security benefits, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

    The report found that borrowers at least 50 years old who default on federal student loans and must repay via “offsets” of their Social Security benefits have often had their loans for decades. The offset is typically about 15 percent of their benefit payments.

    Borrowers subject to such offsets are progressively receiving benefits below the federal poverty guideline, according to the report.

    After studying the fiscal years from 2001 through 2015, the accountability office found that among borrowers who had their payments withheld for the first time, 43 percent had held their student loans for 20 years or more.

    More than a third of borrowers remained in default after five years of having portions of their Social Security payments withheld, and some even reported an increase in their loan balances. About one-third of the borrowers paid off their loans or canceled their debt by establishing that they were permanently disabled.


    The last sentence is the kicker. Whoever wrote that is unintentionally brilliant.

    Happy Holidays to everyone!