The Senate may be gearing up for hearings on law-school employment statistics and student debt, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday. The Senate Commerce Committee “is a leading candidate to hold the hearings,” the Journal reported.
Senate staffers have started gathering information, aiming to discover whether law schools have been fudging their employment numbers in order to tempt students into pursuing pricey degrees.
Last month, Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Tom Coburn, R-Okla., asked the Education Department to begin "an examination of American law schools that focuses on the confluence of growing enrollments, steadily increasing tuition rates and allegedly sluggish job placement,” the Journal reported. Boxer and Sen. Chuck Grassely, R-Iowa, have in recent months sent seperate letters to the American Bar Association asking it to look into whether schools are misleading students.
Despite the recession, many law schools are reporting that over 90 percent of their graduates have a job nine months after graduation. Analysts point out that those figures don’t necessarily mean employment at a law firm: The numbers can reflect any job at all, down to hourly work done as a paralegal or a bartender.
Outside top-tier schools, the number of graduates able to get a decent legal job after graduation could be close to 40 percent or 50 percent, Kyle McEntee, executive director at Law School Transparency, told The Journal.
Law schools report their employment data to the ABA, and prospective students look at those numbers as they weigh borrowing up to $100,000 to finance studies toward a degree. The ABA told The Journal that the association is going to start asking for more-detailed employment data.