Bruce P. Smith

I’m not going to lie, these are quickly becoming my favorite columns to write every year.

For approximately 364 days a year, law school deans are free to tell us how great their schools are without being forced to provide any data to support their claims of being the best law school for whatever. But one day, each law school must confront the stark reality of their U.S. News law school ranking. They can disparage the rankings, get angry at the rankings, or boast about the rankings (if they’re lucky). But deans ignore the rankings at their own peril.

And so some deans are forced to address their schools’ poor rankings. They are free to spin things however they want, but for one day, they’re not operating in a vacuum. There is an objective fact that is just a little bit beyond their powers of self-reporting manipulation.

It’s a fun day….

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It’s time to check in on the scandal involving the University of Illinois College of Law and its false reporting on the qualifications of its admitted students. Every time we do look at Illinois, the school tells us that “this time” they’ve figured out the full extent of the problem — and it’s a bigger mess than the last time they piped up.

On that scale, today is no different. When the story first broke in September, Illinois claimed that admissions data had only been falsified for one year. Then, a few weeks later, Illinois said that data for four class years had been falsified. Today, Illinois says it has completed a two-month investigation that cost the school $1 million. Now they’re saying that the admissions data for six class years have been compromised, based on a report prepared for the school by Jones Day and Duff & Phelps.

I wonder how many years of lying Illinois would have discovered if they spent $2 million?

But people will be distracted from the ever growing number of times Illinois is self-reporting it lied to people. That’s because today, Illinois has offered up a sacrificial lamb. There’s a head on a platter, there’s a body on the pyre, and Illinois College of Law would have you believe that it has identified the one, the only, the sole person responsible for this entire scandal….

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We mentioned last night that the University of Illinois College of Law has had to restate the LSAT scores and GPAs of its admitted students for the last three years. If you’ve been following the story, you know that Illinois Law had previously admitted that it misstated admissions data for a year.

I haven’t made that big of a deal about this new restatement because it just doesn’t surprise me: if a school lied once, it probably lied many, many times.

Also, I mean, what are we really learning here? That Illinois Law could have higher standards for admitting students? Every law school could. This is news?

But, some of you really want to talk about how Illinois has been lying all this time. It’s like some of you think that the ABA is actually going to do something to punish Illinois….

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Another day, another controversy over something hanging in a law school. Why is law school decor such a charged issue these days?

As some of may already know, I served as vice president of the Yale Federalist Society when I was in law school. My campaign was non-controversial. At the time, the VP was responsible for handling travel arrangements for visiting speakers, as well as for making restaurant reservations for post-talk dinners. In my speech, I talked about how much I enjoyed making travel arrangements, confessing that in high school my career goal was to become head concierge at a leading hotel. I won handily; it was a successful strategy.

I did not put up inflammatory posters that upset many members of the law school community and triggered a response from the dean — like the aspiring Fed Soc president at one midwestern law school.

Yes, we have pictures of the posters. Judge for yourself whether the posters, which have been removed, were racist and/or offensive….

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