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Law school transparency

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Law school transparency is an active effort to provide open access to ABA-approved law school employment data and information.

One of the organized efforts to achieve this goal was initiated by a non-profit organization called Law School Transparency (LST) based in Tennessee.[1]

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An estimated 50,000 students begin law school each year, basing their decision on various factors including employability after law school and ability to pay off law school debt through post-graduate employment.[2]

Median law school debt for most law schools is more than $80,000, with over 40% of the nearly 200 ABA-approved law schools reporting law student debt of over $100,000 over 3 years.[3]

The movement for increased law school transparency stems from the concept that if prospective students had access to more-accurate statistics and information about topics such as post-graduation employment outcomes, it could better inform their decision-making with regards to attending law school.

Law School Transparency Project

The Founders of LST authored a white paper in April 2010 titled "A Way Forward: Improving Transparency in Employment Reporting at American Law Schools"[4]. The paper explored the process of making an informed decision-making with regards to attending law school and outlined challenges such as gaps in accurate employment data and data sharing.

It also discussed a project initiative called the "Law School Transparency Project". It aims to "successfully establish a new employment standard by creating a new post-graduation tool."[5]

The tool is based on 5 operating principles, as outlined in the white paper:[6]

  1. The new standard aims to balance all stakeholder interests, rather than only the interests of prospective law students.
  2. LST will freely provide all data and information on a public website.
  3. LST will incentivize law school cooperation with a certification mark.
  4. LST will facilitate and encourage participation by pre-law and law students and law school alumni as an ongoing public audit of school-provided information.
  5. LST will open public dialogue between prospective law students, law school administrators, and the public to advance collective efforts to improve knowledge about the legal profession.

"Unemployed JD"'s hunger strike for law school transparency

In August 2010 a legal blogger announced a hunger strike for the purpose of promoting law school transparency and supporting the goals of LST.[7] The blogger revealed her identity after a self-reported 20 days of consuming only liquids.

Revealing her identity caused mixed reactions across online blogs.


  1. http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/mission/
  2. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1528862 (page 5, 10-14)
  3. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1528862 (page 3)
  4. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1528862
  5. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1528862 (page 64)
  6. http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1528862 (page 64)
  7. http://www.unemployedjd.com

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