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Rutgers Law Dean Offers Nonsensical Response To Transparency Criticism

On Friday, we reported on an aggressive and arguably misleading sales pitch from the people at Rutgers Law – Camden. The pitch, aimed towards students who had taken the GMAT, made this claim (among others): “As a direct result of the quality of legal education at Rutgers, of those employed nine months after graduation, 90% were employed in the legal field and 90% were in full time positions.” The school was clearly trying to make the economic case for going to law school, something you don’t see as much of in this difficult economy — at least from schools willing to tell the full story of their employment outcomes.

We wondered whether Rutgers was being as forthright as it could with its potential students. Over at Inside the Law School Scam, Professor Paul Campos took a closer look at the Rutgers numbers, and not surprisingly he found them to be highly suspect. Law School Transparency also shed more light on how Rutgers cooked up these numbers, and they went so far as to call for the resignation of the school’s associate dean of enrollment, Camille Andrews, who sent out the recruitment letter.

If you thought Rutgers Law Dean Rayman Solomon was going to throw Dean Andrews under the bus for this adventure in advertising, you haven’t been paying attention to how the law school game is played. Dean Solomon has come out in defense of his school’s recruitment materials.

I’m not entirely sure about the meaning of what he said, but there were definitely words involved…

Dean Solomon gave an interview to Insider Higher Education and stood by the “accuracy” of the statistics quoted in the original Rutgurs email. I’m sure that the stats are technically accurate. But the only person concerned with the technical accuracy of the numbers seems to be Dean Solomon. Back here on Earth, well, I’ll let Professor Campos explain:

Rutgers is claiming that “our average starting salary for a 2011 graduate who enters private practice is in excess of $74,000, with many top students accepting positions with firms paying in excess of $130,000.” First, note that only 29% of the 84% of the class whose status was known and that was actually employed — 58 graduates — were in private practice nine months after graduation. But only 27 of those 58 people had their salaries reported by the school. The median salary for those 27 people was $60,000.

So another way of phrasing this employment data would be this: “14 out of 237 graduates of the 2011 Rutgers-Camden class were reported to be making $60,000 or more in private practice nine months after graduation.”

One nice thing about law school is that it teaches you critical thinking skills you can later use to figure out just how wildly law schools mislead you about your employment prospects.

Insider Higher Ed asked Dean Solomon point-blank if he felt the school’s recruitment effort was misleading to students, despite the technical accuracy of the numbers. Dean Solomon said this:

“I don’t know how to respond,” Solomon said. “If you have a hundred people, would four of them be misled? Would one be misled? Would 98 be misled? [It was] a piece that was designed to get people to think about something they hadn’t thought about. This wasn’t the only information they could get about it.”

I hesitate to characterize this statement because I have no real idea what the hell Solomon is talking about. One could argue that if even one student was misled, then Rutgers Law should be ashamed of itself — but that would be tantamount to holding law school deans to some kind of moral or ethical standard, when it seems painfully obvious that they’re just out to generate as many tuition dollars as possible.

One might argue that if there is a possibility that 98 out of 100 students were misled, then the ABA should step in with an investigation and sanctions — but that would assume the ABA cared one iota about the fleecing of American law students, which we know they do not.

In fact, the only thing I’m pretty sure Solomon was trying to convey with this statement was that neither he nor anybody else in his office really cared about whether the email was misleading or not. That’s not what the piece was “designed” to do. The thing was not designed to actually convey useful information to anybody, it was just meant to “get them to think about something they hadn’t thought about.” How very Socratic of them.

Except that when your professor asks you whether or not something is a material misrepresentation of the facts, she usually wants you to catch the misrepresentation, not fall for it.

Rutgers-Camden goes old school [Inside the Law School Scam]
LST Calls for Dean’s Resignation and ABA Investigation [Law School Transparency]

Earlier: Law School Sales Pitch Doubles Down On The ‘Getting Rich’ Rationale For Law School

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