A Law School built on a lie?

Just last month, Villanova Law was busy receiving a light slap on the wrist from the American Bar Association for the crime of falsifying admissions data to the ABA. Obviously, law schools misreport information to the ABA so that they can make the same false statements to U.S. News for the benefit of the law school rankings.

Since the U.S. News rankings help law schools pay the bills, and U.S. News does not have a data point for “censured by the ABA,” the ABA’s censure penalty seemed particularly ineffective.

But the news of today makes the way the ABA handled the Villanova situation look like even more of a joke. That’s because another law school has been busted for reporting inaccurate admissions information….

The latest school caught up in a scandal involving false data is the University of Illinois College of Law. Now, I know how this sounds. You’re probably thinking that it’s not “news” that an Illinois public institution is being accused of engaging in unethical behavior. In fact the most observant of you are thinking that Illinois Law has already been busted for admissions corruption.

And, you know, you’re right and stuff. But this is an entirely different admission scandal from the one you are remembering.

Here’s the Chicago Tribune’s story on the newest(!) corruption at Illinois Law:

An assistant dean at the University of Illinois College of Law has been placed on administrative leave after the university received complaints that grade and standardized test data for the incoming class had been inflated on university literature, officials said Sunday.

The data — grade point averages and median Law School Admissions Test, or LSAT, scores — had been exaggerated on the university’s website and promotional publications for the class of 2014, according to a news release Sunday. The university’s ethics office received a warning last month. The reported inaccuracies were discovered Friday, and alumni were informed over the weekend.

Ouch, exaggerating LSAT scores sounds so bad when you put it that way. Let’s check out the softer spin on the transgressions produced by Bruce Smith for the benefit of the Illinois Law community. You can read his full memo at the end of the post:

Recently, the University learned that student selectivity data concerning the incoming class of 2014 disseminated by the College of Law might be inaccurate. An inquiry into the facts was immediately initiated.

See how much nicer that sounds? Inaccurate student selectivity data sounds so much better than exaggerated LSAT scores.

Regardless of the spin Illinois is trying to put on this, the school knows it needs to lawyer up:

The University has hired Theodore Chung of the law firm Jones Day to conduct the review, with the assistance and cooperation of College of Law officials. Mr. Chung is a well-recognized expert in conducting internal investigations. Additionally, Jones Day will utilize Duff & Phelps, an independent firm with expertise in data processing and forensic analysis. The University intends to provide further information concerning the accuracy of College of Law class profile information when this review is completed.

Jones Day over some of the other Chicago based power houses like Kirkland & Ellis or Sidley Austin? Think about that, 2Ls looking for callback hours.

Actually there are more interesting things we can say about Theodore Chung of Jones Day. Namely, Chung is a proud graduate of Northwestern Law, not Illinois Law.

It really surprises me that that law schools don’t know how bad it looks when they hire lawyers who didn’t graduate from their schools. It’s the ultimate vote of no confidence in the capabilities of one’s own law school graduates. Chung is a “well-recognized expert.” Are there no recognized experts in this type of investigation who graduated from Illinois Law? If not, why? Wouldn’t this be, at the very least, an opportunity for Illinois Law to help an Illinois Law grad become an expert?

Oh, and Illinois will also be outsourcing it’s eDiscovery needs. So either that’s another opportunity to give work to Illinois law grads that the school missed or, more horribly, Duff & Phelps data processing hires a whole bunch of Illinois Law grads.

I could sit here and slam on Illinois Law all day. But, as usual, the real culprit is the ABA. I don’t really think that Illinois and Villanova are the only schools who have made this kind of mistake. The benefits are too great and the penalties are laughable. It’s like sanctioning North Korea while China secretly supports North Korea.

But I don’t mean to accuse the ABA of being like China. See, China uses it’s power, while the ABA runs around trying to project an image of weakness and ineptitude. The right geopolitical analogy for the ABA is the United Nations.


Recently, the University learned that student selectivity data concerning the incoming class of 2014 disseminated by the College of Law might be inaccurate. An inquiry into the facts was immediately initiated.

This matter is being taken very seriously by the highest levels of the University, the campus and the College of Law. The Ethics Office and Office of Legal Counsel are leading the inquiry and have engaged the assistance of outside legal counsel that is familiar with the University and its data-reporting requirements and processes.

The University has hired Theodore Chung of the law firm Jones Day to conduct the review, with the assistance and cooperation of College of Law officials. Mr. Chung is a well-recognized expert in conducting internal investigations. Additionally, Jones Day will utilize Duff & Phelps, an independent firm with expertise in data processing and forensic analysis. The University intends to provide further information concerning the accuracy of College of Law class profile information when this review is completed.

Administrative staff at the College are cooperating fully with the inquiry. The data in question concerning the 2014 class profile have been removed from the College’s website, and a review of other data is being pursued. Pending conclusion of this review, Associate Dean John Colombo has been placed in charge of the office in the College that is responsible for the collection and dissemination of student selectivity data.

We thank you for your continued support of the College of Law and your recognition that its continued integrity is our paramount concern.

Sincerely,

Bruce Smith
Dean, College of Law

and

Richard Wheeler
Interim Provost

U of Ill. puts law school dean on leave over data [Chicago Tribune]
U. of I. Law assistant dean put on leave over test result questions [Chicago Sun-Times]
U of Ill. Puts Law School Dean On Leave Over Data [CBS Chicago]
Illinois Law Admits to Inflating LSAT/GPA [Constitutional Daily]

Earlier: Villanova Might Need A Kiss From Mommy Since The ABA Slapped Their Wrist Wreally Wreally Whard.
Fighting Illini Chancellor Richard Herman Stops Fighting


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