Paul Pless

Illinois Law has been going down ever since its inflated admissions data first came to light in 2011, and it hasn’t been pretty. The school put forth the “lone gunman theory of admissions fraud,” and Paul Pless, its former assistant dean for admissions and financial aid, was put on administrative leave, before he quietly resigned from his position. Not only did the school drop 24 spots in the U.S. News rankings, but it also got a costly spanking from the American Bar Association.

What’s happened to Paul Pless since then? Today’s news serves to remind us that some law school administrators love to screw — sometimes with numbers, and sometimes with hookers…

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Angelica Cecora

Ed. note: Due to the Labor Day holiday, we’ll be on a reduced publication schedule today. We’ll be back to normal tomorrow. A restful and happy Labor Day to all!

* The lone ex-Dewey partner who was sued by Citibank for defaulting on his capital loan is fighting back, claiming that he was “fraudulently induced” into signing up for the plan even though the bank knew that the S.S. D&L was sinking. [Reuters]

* If you’re trying to avoid additional questions being raised about your alleged bad behavior, a resignation amid scandal isn’t the way to do it. Suzanne Barr, the ICE official accused of running a federal “frat house,” has quit her job. [New York Daily News]

* A federal judge taught the members of the Louisiana Supreme court that the year 1994 did, in fact, occur before the year 1995. Justice Bernette Johnson will now ascend to the rank of chief justice. [Times-Picayune]

* Because we’re all a little hopeless these days: given the bleak realities of our economic situation, perhaps it’s finally time to change the standard for a discharge of student loan debt in bankruptcy. [New York Times]

* “The groups that attempt to rank schools are involved in a lot of hogwash.” Even if that’s the case, people are still going to care about the University of Illinois’s rankings nosedive after the Paul Pless to-do. [News-Gazette]

* Don’t be scared by the absurd tuition rates or the abysmal job prospects, because law school is still a great investment for African-Americans — and for law schools in search of diversity, too. [National Law Journal]

* “[T]hat a lawyer would take this kind of case is shocking.” Sadly, it’s not. Angelica Marie Cecora, the alleged escort who filed a $5M suit against Oscar de la Hoya, now has to pay all of his legal fees. [New York Post]

Illinois College of Law

Well, it’s not like the Penn State sanctions. But it’s not like the University of Illinois College of Law was covering up a Jerry Sandusky. The school was inflating the LSAT scores it reported to the American Bar Association.

Today the ABA fined Illinois Law $250,000. The ABA also censured the law school.

The Chicago Tribune reports that this is the first time the ABA has fined a law school for inaccurate consumer information. I guess that’s a step in the right direction. Still, considering the average salary for an Illinois College of Law full professor is $194,624, it’s hard to see the fine meaning very much to the school’s operations…

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Way back in 2008, I noted with skepticism the University of Michigan’s “Wolverine Scholars” Program. I wasn’t the only one. The initiative allowed Michigan undergraduates with very high GPAs to get into Michigan Law without having to take the LSAT.

The program seemed like a pretty obvious attempt to game the U.S. News rankings. It’s so obvious that the now disgraced former Dean of Admissions for Illinois Law, Paul Pless, who had a similar program at his school, had this to say about it:

I started a new program for U of I undergrads to apply in their junior year and we don’t require the LSAT. We have additional essays and an interview instead. That way, I can trap about 20 of the little bastards with high GPA’s that count and no LSAT score to count against my median. It is quite ingenious.

Pless was talking about Illinois’s iLeap program, which was substantially similar to the Wolverine Scholars program at Michigan.

The Pless quote came out earlier this month, as the admissions director was being ushered under the bus by Illinois Law as the “lone gunman” for its embarrassing admissions scandal.

With the spotlight on a Big Ten school that manipulated admissions statistics for years, Michigan very quietly canceled its Wolverine Scholar Program.

There’s been much less fanfare about the end of the program than there was about its start. In fact, we obtained FOIA documents that contain various emails from Michigan Law Dean Evan Caminker and Dean of Admissions Sarah Zearfoss.

They talk about the program, and the how “the blogs” are covering it….

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I am a maverick and a reformer so I started a new program for U of I undergrads to apply in their junior year and we don’t require the LSAT. We have additional essays and an interview instead. That way, I can trap about 20 of the little bastards with high GPA’s that count and no LSAT score to count against my median. It is quite ingenious.

Paul Pless, former dean of admissions at the University of Illinois College of Law, in a 2008 email about iLEAP, a program that offered early admission to University of Illinois undergraduates with high GPAs (and no LSAT scores).

(The reaction of the other party to the correspondence, after the jump.)

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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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