Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Pot meet kettle

by Andrew Gillen

This morning brings news from Inside Higher Ed that
A special committee of the American Bar Association has issued a report criticizing the impact of U.S. News & World Report rankings on law schools. The report says that the magazine's methodology "tends to increase the costs of legal education for students"
I agree that one consequence of the US News and World Report rankings is to reward higher spending. But it is odd to see this criticism coming from the ABA. Until a few years ago, the ABA excelled at
“a technique used by professional interests to feather their own nests. The most egregious example is the American Bar Association, which has a stranglehold on American legal education. Many of the ABA accreditation rules have only gossamer connections to the quality of legal education, but all of them have a laser-like focus on the perquisites of being a law professor -- down to specifying the number of square feet in each faculty member's office. You can get a fair picture of the world of specialized accreditation by imagining 250 or so would-be ABAs, each carping for a finer grade of ivory in its part of the tower.”
That was written in 1995, and apparently things aren’t as bad anymore, mostly because
the Justice Department, aroused by complaints that an accrediting panel of the American Bar Association was dictating matters like the salaries of law professors, took the association to court.

The resulting consent decree directed the bar group to concern itself with academic quality instead of resources.
Besides illustrating the delicious irony of the ABA losing a legal battle, this makes clear that the ABA had no problems with driving up costs until forced to stop. So why the criticism of USNWR’s rankings for doing the same thing? Is the ABA just jealous?

1 comment:

Overlook said...

Interesting article Andrew. I swear, I don't know if I'm getting old and cynical or if the world has gone mad. Isn't it amazing how the chameleons change colors?

Oh well...