I approached my first class of law school with a bundle of nerves. I looked around to see a multitude of tight fake smiles, or people nervously fidgeting, giggling or constantly and repeatedly looking through book bags.
Then, my eyes landed on a guy sitting in the back with a pencil on his ear. He looked very calm. I didn’t know at the time, but he later was known to brag that he basically smoked marijuana for breakfast everyday. Maybe that explained some things, looking back. At the time, I just was fascinated at his air of confidence. For story purposes, we’ll call him “Rip”.
I was still hearing the voice of the welcome assembly speaker, who had told us to turn to our left and to our right and look real close at those two people. He then smiled and said that only only 1 out of every 3 incoming law students would end up graduating. The other 2… well, you can see why I was carrying the bundle of nerves.
Back to Rip. I had 4 classes with him that semester. He always raised his hand to participate. He was one of those. He even seemed to enjoy the terror of being called on by the Professor. They called that the Socratic method. I still just call it meanness.
During the entire first semester of law school, you really still don’t know if you belong. You only take a final exam in each course. Then, when you came back for the second semester, they would post your grades on a wall. That meant that everyone crowded around to look at their pre-designated number and then slowly move their eyes across the page. Nowadays, you can get your results online. At least you can suffer in privacy and binge on ice cream in your pajamas, if your grades don’t measure up.
When the next semester rolled around, Rip told me that he had done very well and that he was ranked in the top 1/3 of the class. That’s when it happened. One day, I walked into Civil Procedure class and noticed that Rip was not in his usual corner, top-right chair. After class, I was told that Rip had been expelled from law school.
I ran over to his room and found him. He told me that he had failed to list a misdemeanor criminal charge on his original law school application. As a result of the misrepresentation, they had expelled him. A year later, I learned that he was working as a manager in a Tulsa, Oklahoma, ABC store.
I was reminded of Rip when I read about the University of Illinois law school in The Chicago Tribune. The American Bar Association has fined them for reporting inaccurate consumer data. According to the story, they intentionally published false admissions data to make it look like their students had higher grades and law school (LSAT) admittance scores. They also falsely reported their number of applicants and under-counted their number of admission offers.
These false numbers helped the law school to be ranked higher in the U.S. News and World Report yearly law school rankings. Such false rankings help them to get more applicants and helped their scoring in the accreditation process.
Now, compare their punishment for fraud to what Rip received for a false application. They were fined $250,000 by the ABA and… well, there is no “and”. The admissions dean did resign. The ABA spokesman said that “No matter what the competitive pressures, law schools should not cheat.” Can’t argue with that!
For pic o’ day, I thought I’d try to tie it in to the story. Admissions thought they could throw it all together and fool everyone. How is that for a pic os the analogy work?
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