The debate continues, according to The Chronicle’s report on the Association of American Law Schools annual meeting, as to whether law schools should be assessed based on “input” measures or “outcome” measures. The first looks at library holdings, faculty size, and the like, while the latter measures the skills and competencies of the school’s graduates.
Law schools are resisting this suggestion for outcome measurements, saying that “they have enough to worry about with budget cuts, a tough job market for their graduates, and the soaring cost of legal education without adding a potentially expensive assessment overhaul.”
Supporters of these proposed revisions, however, say that the difficult job market is exactly why these graduate assessments are crucial, despite their hefty price tags: In a competitive job market, it’s important that graduates possess certain skills if they want to pierce the law firm market. The pressure and costs of such a test will only encourage law schools to “churn out” graduates who possess the skills that employers are seeking.
Cost and timing are key players in this ongoing debate. Is the middle of a meltdown in the legal job market the time to start implementing costly changes? Will such reforms offer a return on investment?
Other issues raised by opponents of performance-based assessments include the questionable measurability of legal practice skills and the effect diversity will have on bar passage rates.
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