TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

45% of Law Students Cheat

Following up on my post earlier this month, Cheating Scandal Erupts at Syracuse Following Biden's Graduation Speech: in this week's National Law Journal: Cheating 2.0:  New Twists on a Venerable Temptation are Confronted by Law Schools, by Leigh Jones:

About 45% of law school students have engaged in some form of cheating at least once in the previous year, according to a survey published in 2006 by Rutgers University professor Donald McCabe. ...

Every law school has problems with cheating and plagiarism, said Florida Coastal Vice Dean Terri Davlantes. "It's just a matter of catching those cheaters. We do our best to detect cheating opportunities," she said. The school last fall expelled a first-year student who ran an advertisement offering to pay someone to write a paper for him.

The ABA, which accredits law schools, does not specifically address academic integrity or student ethics in its standards for accreditation. All but two of the law schools accredited by the ABA have devised their own academic conduct and integrity rules, according to a 2006 report by the ABA Standing Committee on Professionalism. The others rely on the policies of the universities to which they belong. ... In general, law schools rely on the intense competition among students to motivate them to report other cheaters and uphold their honor codes. But strong bonds among class members and a resistance to tattle can undercut that motivation.

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Wow, what a shocker. Finaglers are cheaters? You don't say. Seriously, though, I have an acquaintance from high school who is a partner at a law firm. He graduated No. 2 in my high school class. He was funny and kind of bright, but not that bright. I always suspected he cheated his way through school. So I sent him an email once (using a fake name) and I asked him if he could do some legal work for me. He replied, and his email had so many typos in it and was punctuated so poorly that I had my answer, right there. Lawyers lie and manipulate for a living, so it only makes sense that many of them would lie and manipulate to get to the top of the greasy flagpole. I rest my case.

Posted by: Bob Smith | May 26, 2009 9:15:30 AM

the other 55% learn to cheat when they become lawyers.
The whole system that they work in cheats everyone else by re-defining words. Examples would be the word person and the word accident when the latter refers to a car crash.

Posted by: Pat | May 26, 2009 9:17:04 AM

I'm a lawyer (US and UK) and I have never cheated.

Posted by: A | May 26, 2009 10:07:29 AM

For what it's worth, I never cheated on any college exam, I graduated with honors, and I scored a 90% average on the CPA exam (top 1% in the country).

I went on to become the CFO of Crazy Eddie and I helped mastermind one of the biggest securities frauds of the 1980s.

I ultimately pleaded guilty to three felonies.

If you are concerned about the 45% of students that cheat on exams, do not assume the future honesty of those 55% of students who do not cheat exams.

We all live with sin and temptation. For some, it's just a matter of time before they display their dishonesty.

Posted by: Sam E. Antar (former Crazy Eddie CFO and a convicted felon) | May 26, 2009 12:05:07 PM

To the lawyer that claims he never chested... you are a liar.
To tell the truth to your advantage is cheating and lying.

Posted by: skinny Jones | May 26, 2009 1:37:19 PM

Being that you're a lawyer, you use the system to make your living. Each defendant or plaintiff who takes a lawyer to court with him is considered a "ward" of the court -- or incompetent. It doesn't matter if lawyers cheat or not, the U.S. court system is designed to subjugate anyone who uses it. Most current courts in the U.S. violate the U.S. Constitution anyway. Being a lawyer is dishonorable.

Posted by: The JC | May 26, 2009 2:09:28 PM

But mostly, I just hate lawyers.

Posted by: Judge Pozner | May 26, 2009 2:17:58 PM

I wonder how well the top 10% students are represented in that 45%? Probably pretty well if I recall.

Posted by: A Nony Mouse | May 26, 2009 5:42:43 PM