October 8, 2011

HIGHER EDUCATION UPDATE: The Coming Senate Hearing On Law-School Malfeasance.

Now here’s where the arrangement gets strange. The ABA asks each law school to supply data on the LSAT and GPA of the 1L class, and it publishes in the Official Guidebook whatever information law schools submit. What’s weird about this is that the co-publisher of the Official Guidebook, LSAC, has this information in its database (literally). The ABA could simply ask LSAC (rather than law schools) to supply this information (but it doesn’t), and LSAC puts its name on a book that contains information that it could easily check (but it doesn’t). As a result, law schools can submit false information with impunity. …

LSAC could blow the lid off this tomorrow by supplying the true LSAT and GPA medians for every law school for the past ten years–but it won’t. … LSAC is a non-profit organization controlled by law schools (revenue of $70,000,000 last year), with a board of trustees nominated by law schools (and the President, who earned $600,000 in 2010, is a former law school dean). LSAC apparently views its primary loyalty as properly oriented toward law schools–that is–toward protecting its constituent members.

One might wonder why the ABA would go along with such an arrangement, and would put its name on an “Official Guidebook” with an organization that exists to serve the interests of law schools. After all, the ABA is supposed to be regulating law schools. Well, the thing is, the ABA Section on Legal Education has itself long been dominated by legal educators. … It’s a good old-fashioned story of regulatory capture.

Indeed.

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