In the March 18th issue of the Wall Street Journal, an article appeared entitled “Law Schools Face Scrutiny on Job Claims.” The essence of the article was that numerous law schools were misrepresenting the percentage of legal jobs available to their graduate students. The higher the percentage of jobs available, the more likely that college applicants will choose a law school with an attractive percentage of law firms or government jobs available.
The reason for the “scrutiny” is because the designated law schools were fudging the figures by providing non-legal jobs paid for by the law school to graduates to increase the percentage without revealing that these temporary jobs were with non-profit companies and others that often expired within a year of graduation. After spending three years and loads of money to become a lawyer, the students deserve honesty from their law schools.
What is wrong with this scenario? As I point out in “Ethical Meltdown,” this type of arrangement violates a rule of ethics known as “Conflict of Interest.” A conflict of interest occurs when there is a situation in which an individual or corporation (or law school) is in a position to exploit a professional or official capacity in some way for personal benefit.
When law schools violate this ethical rule, this should be a wake-up call for the Dean, the professors who teach ethics, and for the Board of Regents, many of whom are probably law graduates from the schools in question.