Paul L. Caron

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Law Prof: I May File Law School Ethics Charges

Following up on my previous post, Subjecting Law School Officials to Professional Discipline for Deceitful Marketing to Prospective Students (Dec. 26, 2012):


Ben Trachtenberg, an associate professor at University of Missouri School of Law who has written about law schools misrepresenting incoming student GPAs, LSAT scores and graduate employment data [Law School Marketing and Legal Ethics, 92 Neb. L. Rev. ___ (2013)], says he may file legal ethics complaints with state bars against those who allegedly published the bogus data.

"Almost every day when I get up, I have to wonder is today the day I'm going to break down and file a complaint" with state bar ethics panels, he tells Bloomberg Law's Lee Pacchia. Trachtenberg would prefer ethics charges be filed by the schools that employed those who published the bogus data. "It's getting to be a little nuts that the folks who really know what's going on aren't doing anything about it," he says. He may file charges, if no one else has, once his article in the June 2013 issue of the Nebraska Law Review is published, he says.

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Kudos to this guy for daring to speak up.

He must be absolutely incensed when he sees the blogosphere errupt with thousands of words of commentary over obviously useless nonsensical things such as the National Jurist Rankings, but relative silence on the on-going ethical issues underlying law schools' information reporting and marketing behavior.

Maybe Mr. Trachtenberg should come up with a ranking of "America's Slimiest Law Schools" to get law professors' attention.

Posted by: Anon | Feb 24, 2013 12:50:32 PM

Prof. Trachtenberg ought to wonder every morning whether today is the day he files a complaint with state bar ethics panels. Had I contemplated such a move, back when I had but two years of practicing law under my belt, I would have felt similar apprehension.

Posted by: Jake | Feb 24, 2013 12:58:27 PM

Schools that fired someone may have reached termination agreements that said they wouldn't take this step themselves. The agreement would obviously be confidential.

If so, I think sweeping this under the rug hurts us all by preserving opacity, but HR is there to prevent the school from getting sued by the person being terminated, and is not always considering other factors.

Of course, the person being fired knows where all the bodies are buried, so a school could potentially open up a can of worms if it proceeded with a referral to the State Bar - discovery and depositions could be very interesting when one of the parties knows the full story, and could cover a lot of other people at a school in mud. Keep in mind that just because only one or two were caught fiddling the numbers, that doesn't mean that there aren't many others pressuring to "make the numbers work".

Posted by: Doug Wenzel | Feb 25, 2013 6:20:09 AM

You will feel better, Ben, after you file the charges.

Posted by: Lowellguy | Feb 25, 2013 6:32:55 AM

The University of Missouri Columbia has a Dean, and a Career Services Office. If what you say is true that you could file such charges against officers of any law school in the country, start at home.

Posted by: Justin | Feb 25, 2013 7:44:13 AM