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Ask Your Congressmen About Law School Transparency

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For all the hype and media attention gained by the scam blog movement, there has been a complete absence of results. The reasons are pretty simple. A graduate has very little pull with a university unless he also has millions in potential donations, which none of the scam bloggers do, and the number of law school applicants is still so much greater than the enrollment numbers that schools are insulated from negative publicity.

The best sign of hope to come out of the scam blog muck raking is that Senators Boxer, Grassley, and Coburn are putting pressure on the ABA to increase transparency. Kudos to them, but it may not be enough. Remember who runs the ABA, professors and Big Law partners. They are people with a lot of financial resources and who tend to be fairly well connected in the political world. The ABA may be able to continue its current policy of waiting the issue away. Senators get bigger issues to deal with, and have election years where pissing off a bunch of well connected lawyers isn't really in their interests.

People who are pissed off by the shenanigans pulled by law schools, or who aren't very upset about it but recognize unethical behavior when they see it, have two big advantages over the ABA. There are a lot of them, law schools have been cranking out about 20,000-30,000 lottery losers a year; and, they can act quickly and independently, unlike the ABA which needs to hold a meeting in order to decide if a panel should be convened to discuss whether there is an issues to discuss at a later meeting.

So, here's the battle plan: write to your Congressmen, inform them of the problem, and ask them to take action.

We know what you're thinking, "LOL! Writing to your Congressman never does anything! Have fun banging your head against that wall!"

Not so fast. Writing to your Congressmen (men, plural, you have three, two in the pink and one in the... er, two in the Senate, one in the House) does very little on hot button, politically divisive issues to which he is already married to one position. Odds are your representatives don't have a position on law school transparency yet. This is an issue where it's pretty cut and dry who's in the right and who's in the wrong, there aren't existing partisan positions on it, and the group you stand to gain the support of (students and young grads) outnumber the people you might piss off (tenured professors and deans) by a ratio in the ballpark of 100:1. You may get back a form letter saying that your Congressman is too busy working on a secret panel to come up with secret Constitutional arguments in favor of assassinating our own citizens, but come on, they probably have some free time. Congress makes law professors look productive.

Write to your Congressmen, ask them about law school transparency. Form letters tend to not be as effective as something you write yourself, so we suggest you put your own personal stamp on it, but to help you get moving (or if you're just lazy), here's our letter:

 

Dear [Representative],

I write to you to ask that you join the efforts of Senators Boxer, Grassley, and Coburn in bringing transparency and accountability to legal education.

Independent audits at two law schools (Villanova and Illinois) found that the schools had for several years reported false LSAT and GPA data to the American Bar Association and to US News, the leading law school ranking publication. Some 20 other law schools are facing law suits based on published employment and salary figures that are at worst false, and at best intentionally misleading; either scenario constitutes fraud. Law school administrations cite compliance with the ABA's deficient reporting standards as a defense to fraud, despite clear moral and ethical obligations to act with honesty and integrity whether the ABA requires it or not.

Although it has long been aware of these problems, the ABA has taken no action to rectify them. In the case of misleading employment data, the ABA has actually taken measures to enable continued fraud by helping schools to conflate graduates finding jobs in the legal industry with graduates taking non-professional positions, such as in retail or food service.

I ask that you contact the ABA and demand that it begin a speedy process of revising its accreditation standards to require that all schools undergo regular independent auditing of their enrollment and employment data, and that the results of these audits be made public. Should the ABA continue its pattern of inaction, I ask that you work with the Department of Education to strip the ABA of its accreditation power.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

[You]


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