I always tell law students to do as much research as possible before applying to law school, but this might be taking it too far.

A law student joined the school’s new student Facebook page and started going to all the usual 1L social events. The problem is that the law student wasn’t a law student at all. A TA figured out that the student was an imposter and now he’s disappeared.

What kind of person is so hard up for social contact that he’s got to willingly hang out with law students?

Multiple tipsters at Columbia Law School report that there was a 1L who wasn’t a 1L:

The CLS 1L class is abuzz with the revelation that someone who represented himself as our classmate does not actually attend CLS. We know the student in question by the name Jose Olivo, though I cannot confirm that that is his real name (as we’ve only gleamed it from his Facebook and him introducing himself as such)…

We met Jose when he frequented Columbia events at bars, house parties and whatnot at the beginning of the semester, and it appears he represented himself to be a 1L at all times, per discussions, Facebook posts, or anything else. As the semester wore on and the number of social events declined, people haven’t seen much of him, although it’s not uncommon not to have seen someone not in any of your classes for quite a while–it didn’t engender much discussion previously. The ruse was apparently discovered when a group of students in conversation, representing every section, realized they’d never seen him in ANY of their classes, or anywhere in the law school vicinity. They inquired about it with Michelle Greenberg-Kobrin, the Dean of Students, who apparently told them no one by that name is registered here. Nor was any student by that name EVER registered here, which nixes the idea he had quietly dropped out. He’s also not listed in the student directory (though that doesn’t necessarily mean he isn’t registered).

There are a lot of people named “Jose Olivo” out there, so there’s no way to know which one (if any) is the Columbia imposter. But the administration has now confirmed that there was somebody pretending to be someone he was not. From a Columbia Law spokesperson:

On Monday evening, students reported that a young man has been posing as a student of ours at more than one social event. We confirmed that this individual is not registered here. No one has reported to us that he was seen in our classrooms. Regardless, we did alert the Office of Public Safety, which is investigating the matter with our full cooperation.

The fact that this guy wasn’t actually in classrooms speaks well of Columbia Law security, if nothing else.

What’s funny is that Jose seemed to be running some kind of long con:

The story gets weirder. Jose holds himself to be a graduate of Columbia University (’13) and the Horace Mann School. Dean MGK also apparently told the students that no one by that name has graduated from Columbia University in the past several years. None of the Columbia University grads at CLS–and there are many–appear to have ever met him before. Nor does anyone associated with Horace Mann appear to have ever met him–he is apparently not listed in an alumni directory there, nor is he listed in Columbia’s. Per his Facebook profile (which he recently removed), he appears to live a lavish lifestyle–his page is littered with statuses and photos of five-star restaurants, courtside Knicks seats, routine encounters with celebrities, open discussions of casually spending thousands on entertainment, and the like. Several students have suggested he tends to appear very infrequently in the photos (suggesting that they might not be his) or that some or many may be Photoshopped. If he indeed did not attend Columbia undergrad (as many speculated), that would extend the apparent misrepresentation to a period of years.

At least we know that a person concerned with fake prestige still chooses Columbia over NYU Law. That’s got to make the CLS students feel good. Columbia law students should also feel good because it appears that they exposed this hoax through logic and crowdsourcing. Even as 1Ls, they know how to research.

I wonder what is next on “Jose Olivo’s” list of parties to crash? Let me know if you see his byline here on Above the Law.


comments sponsored by

57 comments (hidden for your protection) Show all comments