Law Professors Accuse Law Schools of Sending False Information for College Rankings

Sunday, March 11, 2012
The business of law school rankings can be downright unlawful, according to two professors at Emory University.
In their research paper (“Law Deans in Jail”), Morgan Cloud and George Shepherd accuse some law schools and their deans of submitting false information about school expenditures and students’ undergraduate grades and LSAT scores to U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings of the nation’s best law schools in order to improve their rankings and attract more and/or better students.
Other schools, Cloud and Shepherd write, submitted “information that may have been literally true but was misleading. Examples include misleading statistics about recent graduates’ employment rates and students’ undergraduate grades and LSAT scores.”
The authors also hold U.S. News & World Report responsible for publishing and selling for profit “data submitted by law schools without verifying the data’s accuracy, despite being aware that at least some schools were submitting false and misleading data.”
These acts could constitute felony violations of the law, including mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, racketeering, and making false statements.
Two schools that have publically admitted reporting inflated figures for their students’ LSAT scores are Villanova University School of Law and the University of Illinois College of Law.
One category that would naturally attract law school applicants is “Graduates Known to Be Employed Nine Months after Graduation.” According to U.S. News’ most recent ranking, 59 of the 145 law schools surveyed (41%) reported an employment rate of 90% or higher. However, some schools include jobs that do not require a law degree and may even be part-time minimum wage jobs. Cloud and Shepherd contend that, “Some schools have gone even further, creating temporary jobs programs for hiring their own unemployed recent graduates. The jobs typically end shortly after the U.S. reporting dates.”
The authors point out that, “For people conversant with the actual job opportunities for law school graduates since 2007, the employment numbers published by law schools and U.S. News might seem laughable if they did not influence fundamental life decisions made by prospective law students who rely upon them.”
-David Wallechinsky
To Learn More:
Law Deans in Jail (by Morgan Cloud and George Shepherd, Emory University School of Law) (pdf)
Bar Raised for Law-Grad Jobs (by Nathan Koppel, Wall Street Journal)

Law School Transparency 


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