March 9, 2012
Gamed Law School Data Felonies: Will unemployed grads be visiting their law deans in prison someday?
From the abstract of Law Deans in Jail [SSRN] by Morgan Cloud and George B. Shepherd (both Emory Law):
A most unlikely collection of suspects - law schools, their deans, U.S. News & World Report and its employees - may have committed felonies by publishing false information as part of U.S. News' ranking of law schools. The possible federal felonies include mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, racketeering, and making false statements. Employees of law schools and U.S. News who committed these crimes can be punished as individuals, and under federal law the schools and U.S. News would likely be criminally liable for their agents' crimes.
Some law schools and their deans submitted false information about the schools' expenditures and their students' undergraduate grades and LSAT scores. Others submitted information that may have been literally true but was misleading. Examples include misleading statistics about recent graduates' employment rates and students' undergraduate grades and LSAT scores.
U.S. News itself may have committed mail and wire fraud. It has republished, and sold for profit, data submitted by law schools without verifying the data's accuracy, despite being aware that at least some schools were submitting false and misleading data. U.S. News refused to correct incorrect data and rankings errors and continued to sell that information even after individual schools confessed that they had submitted false information. In addition, U.S. News marketed its surveys and rankings as valid although they were riddled with fundamental methodological errors.
And this all started out so innocently to move up a notch or two or three positions for law prof ego-stroking peer recognition. Hello, DOJ! For concerned members of the legal academy and US News, here's the link to the US Sentencing Commisssion's Federal Sentencing Guidelines Manual.
Hat tip to The Chroncile's Law Deans Could End Up in Prison for Misleading Applicants, Paper Suggests. [JH]