Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Interesting Protest by Unemployed Law Grad

A law school grad identifying himself as Ethan Haines says he has been on a hunger strike since Aug. 5 in an effort to prod law schools to become more transparent in employment statistics.

He sent a letter to to ten randomly selected law schools from among the top 100 according to U.S. News & World Report’s annual law school rankings. The schools incuded Chicago (No. 5) , U. Penn. (No. 7), Fordham (Tied-No. 34), Washington (Tied-No. 34), American (No. 48), Florida State (No. 54), Georgia State (No. 60), Baylor (No. 64), U. of Hawaii at Manoa (No. 72), and Pacific McGeorge (No. 98) .

The letter states:

“My name is Ethan Haines. I stand in place of countless law students and recent law graduates who have been disillusioned by law school employment statistics, commercial school rankings, and antiquated career counseling programs. I designated myself class representative since these students are not able to come forward themselves for fear that vocalizing their concerns will negatively affect their careers.

On August 5, 2010, I will begin a hunger strike to bring awareness to the concerns of my classmates. Their primary concerns are inaccurate employment statistics, ineffective career counseling, and rising tuition costs. My intention is to have these concerns addressed by law school administrators.

This hunger strike was motivated by the recent Report issued by the American Bar Association (ABA), the organization charged with regulating legal education, which investigated U.S. News & World Report’s annual law school rankings. It specifically examined the methodology behind the rankings and the public’s overwhelming reliance on these controversial rankings. The Report identified U.S. News’ rankings as having an adverse effect on law students by increasing the cost of legal education, discouraging need-based financial awards, and reducing the incentive to enhance diversity in the legal profession.

My greatest concern with the Report is its conclusion: “there is relatively little that leaders in legal education can do to change [the adverse effects of U.S. News' rankings] in the short term.” I disagree. My classmates are pawns in this legal education standoff and are powerless to resolve any of the aforementioned concerns without the full cooperation and support of law school administrators.

Effective August 5, I will reject food until the recipients of this Notice address the following pleas:
(1) Agree to comply with Law School Transparency’s (LST) employment disclosure request or state whether it anticipates declining their request. Provide written confirmation of your intent to comply with LST’s request.
(2) Agree to audit your career counseling programs for effectiveness, resourcefulness, and accuracy. Provide written confirmation of your intent to comply with this request.”

For more, see the ABA Journal.

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