The New Republic magazine recently published Served: How Law Schools Completely Misrepresent Their Job Numbers.
I recently lambasted St. Mary's University School of Law dean for contradicting his schools reported employment rates in news paper interview as part of my post concerning the prospect and opposition of new public law schools in Texas.
The article points out something that most of us have suspected for a long time. Law schools are routinely lying in an effort to improve rankings.
They might not call it lying. Maybe it is manipulation of statistics. Regardless of the motive and the reasoning, it is at least lying by omission.
The problem is not that the law schools do not provide a valuable service, or are not fine institutions, or serve their students and graduates well. The problem is that applicants rely on the misrepresentations, sometimes to their detriment. In the least, law schools accept money to process an application from students who might not otherwise apply but for the lie.
And, I personally suspect, that most law school are also exaggerating their LSAT numbers, as one cannot doubt that there is LSAT inflation as to most numbers by most law school reporting.
The real problem in my mind is what type of example are law schools setting for their students and future graduates when the schools, by example, teach that it is alright to bend the truth, inappropriately manipulate the facts, and do whatever is necessary to win.
I have run into younger lawyers of late, several years from graduation, and this is exactly how they operate. They often rely on lies and distortions. Worse, to them it is not about right or wrong. The facts do not matter. The law does not matter. It is all tactical t them. There is always a difference of opnion, but this is not how we were taught in law school before the ranking system was king.
I recently called down a newbie working for Big Law who seemed particularily dishonest in his continued dealing with me. It had just reached the point where I could not take his work for anything. It was not based on one incident, but any number. My message to him was private, but resulted in a blasting email from his supervising partner praising his efforts, and stating how well he was serving his client. Of course he was serving his client by lying, intentionally misrepresenting facts, and misleading me. Is this the law school's fault? I do not know, but it certianly cannot help. These young lawyers (recent graduates) are the law schools billboards.
The point is that if the professors and legal institutions that initially nuture students believe it is alright to bend the truth, to lie, to mislead, to misrepresent and to exaggerate then how can they not expect their graduates not to mimick this result? It might be analogous to religious institutions to teach their parishioners to sin.
It is an article worth reading.
And, if nothing else, when selecting a law school, maybe you should take the rankings with a grain of salt and choose the school based on what best fits your needs.