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

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Law Deans May Go to Jail for Submitting False Data to U.S. News

JailMorgan Cloud (Emory) & George B. Shepherd (Emory), Law Deans In Jail,  77 Mo. L. Rev. 931 (2012):

A most unlikely collection of suspects - law schools, their deans, U.S. News & World Report and its employees - may have committed felonies by publishing false information as part of U.S. News' ranking of law schools. The possible federal felonies include mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, racketeering, and making false statements. Employees of law schools and U.S. News who committed these crimes can be punished as individuals, and under federal law the schools and U.S. News would likely be criminally liable for their agents' crimes.

Some law schools and their deans submitted false information about the schools' expenditures and their students' undergraduate grades and LSAT scores. Others submitted information that may have been literally true but was misleading. Examples include misleading statistics about recent graduates' employment rates and students' undergraduate grades and LSAT scores.

U.S. News itself may have committed mail and wire fraud. It has republished, and sold for profit, data submitted by law schools without verifying the data's accuracy, despite being aware that at least some schools were submitting false and misleading data. U.S. News refused to correct incorrect data and rankings errors and continued to sell that information even after individual schools confessed that they had submitted false information. In addition, U.S. News marketed its surveys and rankings as valid although they were riddled with fundamental methodological errors.

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Advertising and profit: the hallmarks of American academia

Posted by: Jan Golchek | Jan 21, 2014 4:06:30 AM

Criminal liability is doubtful. Civil qui tam liability, however, is a horse of a different color. The law school makes false claims to profit from federal loans.

Posted by: New Theory | Jan 21, 2014 10:29:11 AM

These law deans have enough money and connections to never see the inside of a cell. That said, they've sold fraudulent investments and falsely induced young people to financially destroy their lives. Nothing would make me grin like seeing a law dean and law professor being led to jail in handcuffs. Anyone still thinking about going to law school is an idiot.

Posted by: Liam | Jan 21, 2014 11:22:14 AM

Have prosecutors made actual threats of prosecution, or is this just an exercise in speculation?

Posted by: grs | Jan 21, 2014 5:26:08 PM

C'mon this was just puffing. We learned about puffing in law school.

Posted by: Andy Fox | Jan 21, 2014 5:42:04 PM

That article was kinda old. So, it would have seemed like there would have been some action by now. January 25, 2012 ; Last revised: May 15, 2013

Posted by: Ralph Brill | Jan 21, 2014 6:05:29 PM

Let's make sure that these "deans" surrender their licenses and can never practice again. Like most of their students will never practice ... in the first place.

Posted by: apetra | Jan 21, 2014 6:14:58 PM

We're almost all of us -- even including FBI agents, federal prosecutors, and judges -- quite arguably guilty of federal felonies every day. Wake me up when someone's actually indicted, or even called to testify before a grand jury. Until then, this is wishful thinking.

Posted by: Beldar | Jan 21, 2014 7:13:38 PM