Are Law Schools Committing Fraud?
This summer at the Florida Bar annual convention, I struck up an amiable conversation with a gentleman at a vendor orientation breakfast. He was a nice fellow from a new Florida law school, and since we got along so nicely, I made a note to myself to mention him to the attorneys I cam across.
I wasn’t prepared for the reaction.
When one of my Florida attorney friends learned that yet another law school was entering the state, he was irate. Pumping more attorneys into an already overcrowded market was irresponsible, he explained, for both the practicing, established professionals and the students who would be saddled with student loans.
Discussion about law school reform is something I’ve observed for the past three years we’ve been in the legal market, but usually the commentary focuses on the lack of real-world preparation these attorneys enjoy. And of course, we’re hearing the firsthand stories of jaded JDs who are unable to find the six-figure job they believed they would score after law school
But a recent New York Times article takes it to a whole new level, discussing how surveys about graduate job placement and salaries are skewed and misleading. Says one professor at a leading law school:
You’re beginning your legal education at an institution that is engaging in the kind of disreputable practices that we would be incredibly disappointed to discover our graduates engaging in. What we have here is powder keg, and if law schools don’t solve this problem, there will be a day when the Federal Trade Commission, or some plaintiff’s lawyer, shows up and says ‘This looks like illegal deception.’
The full text of the article, Is Law School a Losing Game?, is worth a serious read.
What are your thoughts? Do the practices of modern law schools to attract students with misleading survey data amount to fraud?