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FlU Law’s Scott Norberg

Law Prof Suggests ABA Set An Employment Requirement for Law School Accreditation

For Scott Norberg, law school accreditation should be tied to employment outcomes.
The Florida International University College of Law professor recently published a paper entitled “The Case for an ABA Accreditation Standard on Employment Outcomes,” which argues that existing standards regarding bar passage rates don’t do enough.
“Bar passage is necessary, but not sufficient. In a market where there are persistently more law school graduates than available law jobs, the qualifications for employment may be higher, and the level of preparation thus required will be greater,” Norberg says.
Norberg suggests that law schools adapt an accreditation standard where law schools would be required to show that at least 60% of graduates have full time jobs after 10-months of graduation.
“I would say that my proposal is a serious one, but more importantly, I hope it will spark more conversation about real changes that will meaningfully address the very large problems of too many grads, too few law jobs, and tremendous debt,” Norberg tells ABA Journal.
Most ABA-accredited law schools report strong legal employment rates, according to the ABA Journal, but some place less than 40 to 50% of graduates in jobs within 10 months of graduation.
Norberg examined 16 law schools that showed weak graduate employment outcomes over the past six years. He found that most of these schools had admissions plans that were “designed to minimize a reduction in enrollment without regard to the impact on employment outcomes.”
Perhaps these numbers are due to the bleak outlook on job placement for law graduates. According to Norberg, in the past 15 years, many first-year lawyer salaries have not seen much growth.
“It appears likely that many graduates at schools with very weak legal employment rates are not able to repay their loans, especially where the amount borrowed is very high, resulting in an unintended federal taxpayer subsidy for the schools,” Norberg writes. “An ABA employment outcomes standard will better ensure that law graduates realize the promise of the J.D. program, that schools do not pursue admissions policies that fail to give due regard to employment outcomes, and that law schools are not receiving unwarranted taxpayer subsidies.”
Sources: ABA Journal, “The Case for an ABA Accreditation Standard on Employment Outcomes”