Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Conditional Scholarships and a Law School's Duty to Instill Professionalism in Its Students

While I was in the hospital last week, there was a debate on the ethics of how law schools have used conditional scholarships (sometimes called bait-and-switch scholarships).  (e.g., here, here)  I do not want to rehash all the arguments today, especially since I have criticized conditional scholarships in posts over the last several years.  (e.g., here, here)  However, I would like to mention my main reason for opposing conditional scholarships.

The way law schools have used conditional scholarships, particularly their failure to disclose the retention rate until recently required by the ABA, has sent the wrong message to law students.  One of law schools' major purposes is to turn out ethical, professional students.  Law schools cannot do this if they are not fully disclosing information and being fair to their students.  Law schools and law professors serve as role models to their students.  You cannot produce an ethical lawyer from a law school that adopts unethical practices.  Law schools must go further in being fair and ethic than other professional and graduate schools because of its role in society.  A medical school will not produce graduates skilled in patient relations if the professors at that school don't treat patients well.  Likewise, a law school will not turn out ethical, professional students, unless they hold themselves to the highest standards.

(Scott Fruehwald)


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