Sunday, August 14, 2011

ABA and NALP in Turf War

According to The National Law Journal, the ABA's new requirements that law schools report more details about graduate employment, which seemed like such a step toward honesty and transparency, has caused a turf battle with the National Association for Law Placement (NALP). (I believe this is Standard 509 (a), Basic Consumer Information, to be published in a fair and accurate manner reflective of actual practice. And an Interpretation 509(1), (8)"placement rates and bar passage data").

NALP says that this change interferes with their traditional, and more comprehensive collection of the same sort of information. And because the ABA is collecting information as part of the annual Questionnaire and the Self Study for re-accreditation or accreditation, the ABA is the question that law schools will answer most diligently, skimping on the NALP survey. NALP Executive Director James Leipold was also miffed, apparently, when the ABA announced the new rules without any notice to their sister organization, stepping all over NALP's toes. The ABA is also interfering with NALP's intellectual property, and Leipold is angry enough to threaten a suit. He claims that the ABA is using the same research and survey methods that NALP pioneered over the last 4 decades.

According the the National Law Journal article by Karen Sloan, that ABA's legal education consultant Bucky Askew explained the new changes to the accreditation rules,

"The bottom line is that the executive committee believes that because we are an accrediting body, we have to get the data directly from schools, not from a third party," Askew said. "There's a difference of opinion about that with NALP but, as the accreditor, we need to make certain that schools understand this is an accreditation issue."

The National Law Journal spoke to Prof. Bill Henderson of Indiana University, Bloomington, who thinks that the new development
will represent a major blow to NALP's ability to collect information and analyze the legal job market. Henderson has used NALP data extensively for his research on the legal industry.

"I think what's happening is a total disaster," he said. "Everything that we know about the industry on a systemic level is from NALP. The ABA won't crunch industry data the way NALP does. They won't have the will or the capacity."

The most logical solution, Henderson said, would be to create a joint NALP/ABA survey, which would allow both entities to exist and make clear that reporting is part of the law school accreditation process.

Anybody up for mediation?

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