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….
Just last month, Villanova Law was busy receiving a light slap on the wrist from the American Bar Association for the crime of falsifying admissions data to the ABA. Obviously, law schools misreport information to the ABA so that they can make the same false statements to U.S. News for the benefit of the law school rankings.
Since the U.S. News rankings help law schools pay the bills, and U.S. News does not have a data point for “censured by the ABA,” the ABA’s censure penalty seemed particularly ineffective.
But the news of today makes the way the ABA handled the Villanova situation look like even more of a joke. That’s because another law school has been busted for reporting inaccurate admissions information….
This is the time of year when future lawyers have to make a crucial choice that will follow them for the rest of the legal careers: where to go to law school. The choice of law school is critical, maybe unfairly so. When you look at medical schools, the hard part is getting into a medical school. But in the legal profession, your choice of law school will be a huge factor in what professional opportunities you can take advantage of with your J.D.
Perhaps in past years, this choice was really easy for 0Ls: they could just go to the highest-ranked school they got into, and then hope for the best. But given the realities of the legal economy, 0Ls need to look at a number of factors beyond the U.S. News law school rankings: how much the school costs, what job markets the law school feed into, and so on.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve received a number of inquires from 0Ls asking for advice about which law school to attend. We’ve pulled out two of the best questions, and now we want to open it up to the Above the Law readers to give these students — and all 0Ls — the combined wisdom of the ATL community.
These are really tough choices, and we know reasonable people will disagree. Hopefully you guys can help these 0Ls feel comfortable with their decisions, whichever way they go….
And now things get interesting. As we continue to run through the U.S. News 2012 law school rankings, we get to a crucial set of schools. The schools in this batch are certainly top tier, but they’re not “top 14″; for the most part, though, they charge like top 14 schools (especially the private ones).
So this is the batch of schools where we usually hear questions like: Should I go to this school at full price, or a much lower-ranked school for free? And our answer is usually, “How much lower-ranked are we talking about?”
The bottom line is that when people get into schools like Duke, or Penn, they are going to end up going to that school. But when people get into some of the schools on this list, they do seriously consider other options. Should I retake the LSAT, score better and apply again? How much financial aid am I getting? What’s the job market like in the [secondary market] this school is located in, just in case I get stuck there? Is it worth it to go into this much debt for a degree from that school?
These factors should come into play no matter which law school you get accepted to, but at this point on the U.S. News list, cost factors take on increased importance…
You’d think that a school which has had its own problems keeping everything on the up-and-up wouldn’t be so eager to go after its own students who commit the little white crime of illegally downloading something off of the internet. But you’d be wrong. Apparently the Illinois Law administration will aggressively discipline students caught making illegal downloads.
Wonderful — so the job market is in the tank, you’re starting to figure out that living in Champaign is nothing like living in Chicago, and now the law school itself is going to come down on you if grab Iron Man 2 without paying Paramount its pound of flesh? Things are rough…
Given the legal economy, prospective students should clearly be shooting for law schools in the top-15. But, not everybody can rock the all powerful LSAT. Going to a law school in this group can still result in Biglaw jobs for graduates who want them — especially if the school is located in the market where you ultimately want to practice.
18. USC (Gould)
19. Washington University in St. Louis
20. George Washington
22. Boston University
22. University of Minnesota
22. Notre Dame
27. Indiana University
28. Boston College
28. William and Mary
28. U.C. – Davis
Thoughts on these schools? I’ve got some thoughts on this particular group of rankings as a whole…
Earlier this summer, we wrote about the University of Illinois College of Law admissions scandal. Former Illinois governor (and soon to be ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ star) Rod Blagojevich pressured University of Illinois Chancellor Richard Herman and Heidi Hurd, former dean of the University of Illinois College of Law, to admit underqualified students who were politically connected.
In the eyes of some, it wasn’t all bad. Hurd was reluctant to accept under-performers. In exchange for her willingness to admit TTT students, university officials attempted to obtain jobs for struggling law school grads and offered scholarship money to recruit better students. The admission of one underqualified student meant jobs for five offer-less law grads.
Herman’s severance package isn’t too bad either:
Herman will continue to receive his current salary in a new position: special assistant to the interim president, Hardy said. But he will forgo a $300,000 retention bonus that was due in June.
In June, when his chancellor contract would have been up, he will take a one-year paid sabbatical at a new faculty salary of $244,444. The following year, he will be required to teach two courses a year as a tenured mathematics professor, fewer than his original contract that called for teaching four courses a year.
The University of Illinois has spent nearly $500,000 on legal bills for six firms retained in the past two months to help it navigate an admissions scandal, reports the Chicago Tribune.
The bulk of the money went to Latham & Watkins, which advised the university on cooperating with the state commission reviewing the school’s admissions procedures. In a statement released Friday, University of Illinois general counsel Thomas Bearrows said that Latham has been paid $392,120.
That’s a nice get for Latham, Chicago.
But there are other firms, large and small, that have been suckling off of the law school scandal. More firms after the jump.
Last week, professors from the University of Illinois College of Law launched a spirited defense of their law school against the against allegations of improper admissions policies reported in the Chicago Tribune. Part of the professors’ argument was that the kind of influence connected people put on public law schools happens all of the time.
But today the Illinois College of Law Dean, Bruce Smith, announced a new policy aimed at taking political influence out of the admissions process. The National Law Journal reports:
In a letter to staff, faculty, students and alumni, Smith said the new policy will also require the college to respond only to inquiries on the status of an application if the inquiry is made by the applicant. In addition, the school will now accept only formal letters of recommendation that are made to the admissions office and placed in the applicant’s file.
“Under my deanship, the college will give no ‘special’ consideration, treatment, or procedure to any application,” Smith said in the letter. “All applicants will be treated equally.”
So, is that a tacit admission of guilt? More details after the jump.
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When Chintan Panchal decided to leave a global BigLaw partnership to start his own firm, he could only hope that he would face the high-quality problem of firm building that many had cautioned him about. Focused on the uncertainty surrounding of a new firm launch, he decided to tackle staffing needs, IT challenges, and financial planning requirements after he had built up his legal practice.
Panchal Associates LLP–a corporate/finance and outside general counsel boutique–was quickly off to a great start. Clients and matters were flying in the door, and Chintan soon had a team of lawyers and staff with a variety of operational needs. To continue building an excellent team and provide them with a competitive benefits package, to expand his physical presence to include a European practice and additional partners, and to scale his operations and IT capabilities to support this growing enterprise brought with it demands of time, money, and expertise. Chintan knew he needed help.
“With the assistance of NexFirm, we have upgraded the capabilities of our firm to meet, and in some cases exceed, the standards we were used to at our former BigLaw firms. Operationally, we can now attract and service clients we didn’t have the bandwidth to support in the past, and continue to build our team with the best and brightest legal talent in the industry,” said Chintan Panchal, adding “It has worked out quite well in our case; NexFirm is an essential partner for us.”
The holiday season is upon us, and yet again, you have no idea what to get for the fickle lawyer in your life. We’re here to help. Even if your bonus check hasn’t arrived yet, any one of the gifts we’ve highlighted here could be a worthy substitute until your employer decides to make it rain.
We’ve got an eclectic selection for you to choose from, so settle in by that stack of documents yet to be reviewed and dig in…
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