Is your Law School Committing Fraud?

So, we all know (or soon will ) that fraud is making a material misrepresentation of an existing fact that the bad guy knows if false—but the hapless victim does not—with the intent that bonehead will act on it, if bonehead actually acts on the statement and suffers damages.  

The New York Times just wrote an article called Is Law School a Losing Game that seriously questions the integrity of law school data reporting.  The article highlights the fact that graduating students are facing a nightmare job market, while at the same time law school data suggests that their prospects are better now than ever.  

One law school professor stated that “Enron-type accounting standards have become the norm.”  The professor has joined the ranks of other law professors who are asking the American Bar Association to re-think the way law schools measure their results.  “Every time I look at this data, I feel dirty.”

One way they manipulate the data is by counting any student that has a job (even as a waitress) as employed.  Can you say–Shady?  Also, some law schools will actually hire their students for a temp job so that they are working on the magic day that the ABA uses to decide if the new law grads are working.  The number-fudging games are widespread because the fortunes of law schools rise and fall on their rankings.  And, make no mistake, they are very profitable.      

So, it seems a little ironic that your law school states that its median starting salary is over $100,000 with over 90% of its students are working within nine months of graduation, when the same school requires law studentsto take Professional Responsibililty (a course on ethics and disclosure). 

One of the proposed solutions to this problem is to put a mandatory warning in front of prospective law students.  Like something off of a cigarette pack it would read “Law school tuition is expensive and here is what the actual cost will be, the job market is uncertain and you should carefully consider whether you want to pursue this degree.  If you sign up for X amount of debt, your l payment will be X in three years.”

So, if you haven’t joined the ranks of law students yet you might want to carefully consider your options before committing to an extra mortgage payment in the hopes that you will get a cush job making tons of money.  Or, you could just be a bonehead like many of us were…