An article by two Emory University law professors with the great title Law Deans in Jail argues that fraud, conspiracy, racketeering, and false statement charges ought to be brought against some administrators and against US News. (Click on one-click download at the top of the page to read the entire article.)

Deans and professors say they are simply trying to game the U.S. News rankings when they deploy schemes to produce false, misleading, or partial data in an effort to improve their school’s position in the rankings. We hope that the analysis in the paper helps people in the legal education industry recognize that competing for higher rankings is serious business, as serious as a federal prison.

The authors are particularly scathing about UD‘s institution, George Washington University, which, when US News started counting part-time as well as full-time student scores, apparently dealt with its sudden drop in ranking by slashing the part-time program.

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4 Responses to “‘Since 2008, the legal profession has been mired in the worst employment recession–many would argue it is a depression–in at least a generation. Yet schools continue to report, and U.S. News continues to publish, employment data that would make any reasonable reader conclude that attending some law schools is almost a guarantee of highly paid professional employment after graduation.’”

  1. david foster Says:

    Morally, it’s hard to see how this kind of thing is different than what certain CEOs/CFOs did when making prohibited accounting adjustments, such as treating “expense” items as “capital expenditures.” Some of these people are in prison with very long sentences.

    Legally, of course, there is a difference in that the securities laws don’t apply to university administrators, but plain old garden variety fraud would indeed seem to be applicable.

  2. dave.s. Says:

    1. They better the Hell be tenured!

    2. “..apparently dealt with its sudden drop in ranking by slashing the part-time program…” Hey, you count beans, beans is what you gonna get! Though it’s a little surprising that cutting the part-timers would help you in DC, this is a place where lots of people who work for agencies see a part time law degree as a way to improve their value on the outside, working for people who have business with their to-be-former agencies, and they are often right, and it’s lucrative.

  3. Margaret Soltan Says:

    dave.s.: Yeah, they’re both tenured.

  4. Ani Says:

    It’s misleading to lump all these practices together. As for the wrongdoing at GW, I am genuinely curious as to what should have been done. From the cited Hatchet article, it appears to follow this timeline:

    1. Part-time program accepts students that typically have less distinguished records.

    2. US News changes its rules, such that students accepted into part-time program are lumped with full-time students. GW knows that the value of its degree to all students will suffer, and its admissions will suffer, so it changes the size of the part-time program.

    What should have been done? And when answering, consider the opposite sequence: what would UD have said if the law school initiated a part-time program and filled it with lower-scoring students? Would that have been degrading its academic mission in pursuit of the dollar?

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