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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

American Lawyer: Law School Deception

Am Law Daily, Law School Deception, Part 3, by Steven Harper (Northwestern):

Recently, The New York Times profiled a Golden Gate University School of Law student who had earned a merit scholarship when she was accepted. Once in, she discovered that in order to keep her scholarship, she would need to maintain a 3.0 grade point average. By the end of her first year, the student had "curved out" at 2.967. ...

Golden Gate imposes mandatory first-year curves limiting the number of As and Bs. In second and third year courses, the curves loosen or disappear. The student profiled in the Times article graduated with a 3.14 GPA--a nice recovery from her early drop, but it came too late to recoup the lost scholarship money.

According to the article, more than half of the students in the current GGU first-year class were awarded merit scholarships upon acceptance. ... "[I]n recent years," the Times article continued, "only the top third of students at Golden Gate wound up with a 3.0 or better, according to the dean...She also maintains that Golden Gate 1Ls's are well-informed about the odds they face in keeping scholarships."

This sounds like the lawyer who tells the jury: 1) my client was out of town at the time of the murder; 2) if he was in town, he didn't do it; and 3) whatever he did was in self-defense. ...

Why offer merit scholarships? The answer, University of St. Thomas School of Law Professor Jerry Organ told the Times, is to move up in the U.S. News rankings. "Law schools are buying…higher GPAs and LSATs." ...

Imagine some deans being forced to answer the following questions, under oath:

  • Where did you go to law school? ...
  • How many graduates did you put on your school's temporary payroll solely to boost your U.S. News ranking "nine months after graduation" employment rate? ...
  • How many of your graduates have full-time paying jobs that require a J.D.? ...
  • How many merit recipients lose scholarships? What did you tell those hot prospects about the chances that the first-year money you dangled before them would disappear in years two and three? Ultimately, how much did they pay for their degrees? ...

[T]he potential class of law student plaintiffs grows by the thousands every year. If they ever file their lawsuit, the defendant(s) better get good lawyers.

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But if everyone is playing these games doesn't it eventually even out?

Posted by: mike livingston | May 25, 2011 2:46:23 AM