Friday, August 2, 2013

More on the Law School Transparency "shakedown" of law schools

A Dean at another law school writes:

Re the McEntee post:  Yes, in fact, Kyle has sent out the following note to a number of deans:

...We're introducing a certification program for law schools.

The program has two purposes. First, we want to increase the quality and consistency of consumer information. Second, we want to help the schools that are transparent (as defined by us of course) signal that transparency. Law schools across the board are facing declining trust, even the good actors. I'm of the opinion that this is bad for the profession in the long run, and that a program like this can help instill a sense of trust where trust is deserved.

The short of what we'll do: Schools that meet our two reviews become "LST Certified," which entitles them to use a certification mark to signal their commitment to transparency. The mark provides assurance to prospective students, students, and the public that your school does things the right way. The fee for the first year is $1925. There will be audits for compliance throughout the year -- sometimes at a defined time, sometimes randomly.

One review is for Standard 509 compliance. The other review is for LST Best Practices. The latter requires that schools produce various consumer information (employment data, financial aid, etc) on their websites. Sometimes the Best Practices require a certain form; usually we just check that certain data or statements are present. Importantly, we require schools to centralize all consumer information for easy access and require that schools indicate info about definitions and methodologies used.

---end of quote from letter--

This is, of course, absolutely outrageous.  One dean colleague said it smacks to him as a violation of the Hobbs Act (which prohibits extortion and such).  This is, any way you slice it, an extraordinary effort at shaking down law schools by promising some version of “certification” at a price – this from a group which decries, among other things, the high costs of law schools.  It is one thing for the deans to call Kyle out.  I’d like to see where the scambloggers are in all this.

It is fair to say this was not a very good move on LST's part, and shatters whatever remaining credibility they had.  (They've been in a bit of a downward spiral.)  Now that the ABA (finally) mandates detailed reporting of employment outcomes, it's not really clear that LST serves a useful purpose any longer, and I will be astonished if any school actually ponies up for this nonsense "certification."  (By the way, it is perhaps telling of what's happened to LST that the law professor who sent me the information about the certification shakedown did not want to write about it himself/herself for fear that LST would then go after that professor's school!)

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