The ABA Journal recently reported on the outcome of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar council's comprehensive review of law school accreditation standards.
"The council approved five of the six remaining proposed changes in the standards. The only proposed change in the standards the council didn’t approve was one that would have eliminated the current prohibition against granting academic credit to a student for participating in a field placement program for which the student receives compensation."
Why would the council continue with the prohibition? "[A] majority of the council sided with critics of the proposed change, who fear that allowing students to be paid for a field placement program for which they receive academic credit would undermine the academic focus of the experience."
"All of the proposed changes in the standards—along with a host of others approved by the council in March—will be reviewed by the ABA House of Delegates at the association’s 2014 annual meeting in Boston in August. The House can either concur with a proposed change or refer it back to the council for reconsideration, with a statement setting forth its reasons for the referral. But it can only do so twice, and the council has the final say on any changes in the standards."
As I stated before, this might be okay if students are receiving a true academic experience while on the job. But it's hard to determine the quality of the on-the-job training that many law students receive at their externships. If they are not getting a quality education during their externships and must still pay tuition, then it becomes that the students are paying thousands of dollars to work for free.