Last modified: Tuesday, January 11, 2011
IU Maurer School of Law professor calls for reform of ranking system
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan. 11, 2011
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The job outlook for newly minted lawyers is grim, but not according to the annual U.S. News & World Report rankings. The most recent U.S. News report shows that 93 percent of graduates were employed nine months after graduation -- but under American Bar Association rules, that includes working as a waiter or at Home Depot .
Indiana University Maurer School of Law Professor William Henderson believes that law schools' truth-telling obligation goes beyond the rankings. Schools need to disclose their success in helping students find the job that best suits them.
"Students go to law school to get jobs as lawyers," he said. "They need to know whether the school has the resources to help them choose the right job as a lawyer -- not as a waiter -- and not just if you're in the top 10 percent of the class." Prospective students need data about schools' career counseling services and the availability of tools for students to assess their strengths and career preferences, he said.
In an article in the Jan. 9 New York Times, Henderson calls the survey data "Enron-like" and says that it's time for law schools to step up and tell the truth about themselves.
Henderson warned that unless the profession begins to police itself through ABA regulations, the Federal Trade Commission will step in and police schools' reporting. "You're beginning your legal education at an institution that is engaging in the kind of disreputable practices that we would be incredibly disappointed to discover our graduates engaging in," he told the Times.
Henderson, who directs the Maurer School of Law's Center on the Global Legal Profession, contends that the U.S. is simply turning out too many lawyers every year, more than 40,000 in 2009. He told the Times that several of the lower-tier schools should close their doors but admits that no one inside the profession is willing to push for that solution. "Ultimately," he said, "some public authority will have to step in because law schools and lawyers are incapable of policing themselves."