Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Rutgers-Camden Dean Doubles Down on Questionable Marketing Pitch to Prospective Law Students

Rutgers-Camden LogoFollowing up on Monday's post, LST Calls for Resignation of Rutgers Dean and ABA Investigation of Improper Recruiting of Law Students

A marketing pitch sent to prospective students by Rutgers University School of Law at Camden touted a 90% employment rate in the legal field for its employed graduates and top private-practice salaries in excess of $130,000 for “many top students.” Now law dean Rayman Solomon is defending those claims after critics charged that the statistics are misleading. ...

According an analysis by Law School Transparency, no more than five recent graduates reported a salary of $130,000. And the 90% employment statistics include jobs where having a J.D. is an advantage, the group says. Solomon said he didn't dispute the group's figures, but disagreed with its analysis.

Alleging false and misleading recruitment materials that overstated earnings expectations and understated the risk of unemployment, an advocacy group is calling for the resignation of a Rutgers University at Camden School of Law administrator. Law School Transparency, a policy organization working to reduce the cost of legal education, said associate dean Camille Andrews sent prospective students information that exaggerated the benefits of attending Rutgers-Camden. In addition to Andrews's resignation, Law School Transparency called for an investigation by the American Bar Association and asked the university to clarify the data in those materials to any prospective students who were contacted.

Dean Rayman Solomon is standing by Andrews. Solomon said the recruitment material was accurate but that he's "open to discussion" about the best way to reach prospective students going forward. The promotion in question targeted potential applicants who took the GMAT, not the LSAT, the typical law school admission test. The goal, Solomon said, was to reach a new audience and introduce the Rutgers-Camden program. Students could then go online to get more information.

"This was one letter saying are you interested, have you thought about it?" Solomon said. "This is not our entire marketing campaign. This is telling people that we have a program."

But were the numbers misleading?

"I don’t know how to respond," Solomon said. "If you have a hundred people, would four of them be misled? Would one be misled? Would 98 be misled? [It was] a piece that was designed to get people to think about something they hadn't thought about. This wasn’t the only information they could get about it."

The brunt of Dean Solomon’s response is that this is but a single letter that isn’t a big deal and shouldn’t affect decision making. To that we ask, what could the employment statistics have been meant to do other than affect application and enrollment decisions? The letter was part of a recruitment campaign, not a not a teaser for a movie due out next summer. Camden should strive to have all of its communications with students be accurate and honest. Dean Solomon further states that the misinformation is okay because other information is out there. It would appear that he is saying “you should know not to take our statements at face value.” That’d be a pitiful position for a law school dean to take.

It’s not acceptable to provide prospective students with false and misleading information just because the truth is available somewhere else. Interpretation 509-4 to ABA Standard 509 clearly states that reporting consumer information accurately somewhere does not absolve a school’s responsibility to present such information in a fair and accurate manner elsewhere.

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"I don’t know how to respond"

Many = 1

Few other instances have so eloquently summarized the moral and ethical bankruptcy of American law school administration.

Prospective law school students - remember, when you are dealing with law schools, you are quite probably dealing with Clintonian scum ("It depends on what your definition of is, is")

Posted by: cas127 | May 24, 2012 1:37:06 PM

Good training for aspiring politicians.

Posted by: PTL | May 24, 2012 5:15:36 PM

I graduated from the Newark in 05 and remember that our Val Victorian could not get a job. Most of the jobs then started at 40 k. Now I imagine it's even harder.

Posted by: David | May 24, 2012 5:24:20 PM

I believe that associate dean Camille Andrews is the wife of Congressman Rob Andrews.

Posted by: william thomas | May 25, 2012 10:42:19 AM

Mr. Thomas is correct, if Wikipedia is accurate. Camille Andrews' Wiki entry states that she has been on leave from her position at Rutgers Law--Camden because of "conflict-of-interest" while her husband is a U.S. Congressman (guess which party, btw). Perhaps she is not still on leave-of-absence, or that is referred to only when convenient?

Posted by: lsrh | May 25, 2012 12:59:09 PM