I think we get so used to law schools taking money out of the hands of their students that we forget that there can actually be a crime when you appropriate student funds for yourself.

The Boston Globe reports that the controller of a Massachusetts law school admitted he embezzled more than $170,000 from the school over two and a half years. I know, wouldn’t it be great if they also admitted that encouraging students to go to law school at a cost of anything approaching $170K should be a crime?

It’s not, of course, but considering the school, it’s somewhat hard to figure out where the embezzlement stopped and where the collection of tuition and fees began….

The embezzlement occurred at New England Law in Boston. The Globe reports:

Douglas Leman, 46, of Lynnfield, the former controller at the school, pleaded guilty in federal court in Boston to charges of accessing a protected computer to defraud and obtain value and making, uttering, or possessing a forged security.

According to court documents, Leman, a 17-year employee of the school, used his work computer to get access to the school’s accounting system between September 2008 and March 2011. During that time, he created 68 false checks for a total of $173,106.71 in school funds, which he deposited into his personal bank account, records show.

So, he started stealing money from the school in September 2008, right as the economy was collapsing and the market for legal jobs was about to go down the toilet? Interesting.

I’m not going to call Leman a “Robin Hood” for stealing from New England Law (which is an ABA accredited school). For one thing, it doesn’t appear that Leman gave any of his ill-gotten gains to the poor.

But prosecutors will recommend that Leman pay $173,106 in restitution to the law school. That doesn’t sound right to me. I think Leman should have to pay that money back to the students who graduated from New England Law between ’08 and ’11.

The money won’t go very far; this mill has 1,100 students and accepts over 56% of those who apply. But for recent graduates, it’s unlikely that the New England Law J.D. is working out like they hoped. I bet every little bit helps.

Former law school official admits stealing funds [Boston Globe]


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