Law School Deans, Law Schools

Yale to Everybody Else: Stop Scamming People

I think we should see more of this. I think we should see more professors, deans, and law school administrators outraged by the practices of some unscrupulous law school officials. I think we should see more legal educators who are disgusted by what other money-grubbing deans and officials do to fill up their classes. I think the bad people in legal education have an easy time of it because the good people won’t stand up.

Happily, you can mark down the Yale Law School Assistant Dean of Admissions on the list of good people willing to fight against the unfair practices of other law schools and call a scam a “scam” when she sees one.

Asha Rangappa isn’t just a winner of our law school deans hottie contest: she also writes a good blog about the admissions process. Her latest piece challenges other law schools to stop bullying students with misinformation about their scholarship offers…

If you’ve ever had the grades to be accepted to a place like Yale Law School, you’ve probably had the pleasure of getting an awesome scholarship offer at some school that is lower down on the U.S. News list. Usually, it’s nice to be wanted and it’s nice to have options. But some of these scholarship people can get very aggressive, especially if you have not yet heard whether or not you’ll be getting into a better school.

Some schools will say that in order to accept your scholarship, you have to “withdraw” you pending applications at other law schools. It’s a pretty basic attempt to bully kids into matriculating to a school before they’ve seen all of their options.

And it’s unethical. Rangappa’s post explains that most law schools have voluntarily agreed to follow the Law School Admissions Council’s “Statement of Good Admissions and Financial Aid Practices.” That document gives prospective law students the option of tentatively accepting a scholarship offer, while still waiting to hear from schools that have not yet made admissions decisions. A school that says you “must withdraw” your outstanding applications is simply not telling the full story.

Here’s what Rangappa suggests you should do if a law school tries to pressure you:

1. Accept your scholarship offer by the deadline, and if required, withdraw from any school that has already given you an offer of admission.

2. If you subsequently get into Yale, review our financial aid package and decide immediately whether you will accept. If you choose to accept, contact the law school that offered you the scholarship and explain that you just received an offer from a law school from which you had not heard when you accepted the scholarship, that you are choosing to deposit there, and that you want to withdraw.

3. If you are criticized, belittled, harassed, threatened, or made to feel bad in any way, ask the admissions/financial aid person with whom you are dealing at that school to give me a call. I’ll take it from there.


Now Rangappa could have left it there, clarifying the rules for those who are interested. But she goes on to really make a larger and more important point about the mores of the law school administrators as a whole:

I have no doubt that my counterparts at other schools will characterize my above advice as “unethical,” suggesting that I am encouraging future law students to break promises. Whatever. I personally question the integrity of admission practices that exploit law applicants’ fear, anxiety, and vulnerability and incentivize them to self-sabotage in the admissions process. It seems to me that law schools, as gateways to the profession, ought to be modeling professional responsibility, honesty, and acting in the interests of their client — in this case, YOU. As far as I’m concerned, there is nothing unethical about my advice because there’s nothing unethical about acting in accordance with the standards and policies a law school has voluntarily and publicly agreed to adhere to, policies that are in place to protect your interests. Don’t let a law school bully you into believing otherwise.

That, to me is the difference between the good schools and the bad schools: does your law school try to exploit your fear, anxiety, and vulnerability, or does it try to protect you? Can your school survive if everybody is making informed, rational choices, or does it thrive only when people act foolishly and without thinking things through.

At Yale, the smarter people behave, the better off things will be for Yale. And Dean Rangappa knows that. Can your law school say the same? Is it really a good idea to go to a law school that wants you to make a decision in a panic?

Just remember what Rangappa is trying to tell you; your law school should treat you as its client — not its mark.

Speaking of Law School Scams… [203 Admissions Blog]

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