Tuesday, June 22, 2010

NYT tiptoes around law school scam

Yesterday brought another mainstream media piece about some of the shenanigans going on in legal education. Grade inflation is not exactly a great way to give students a leg-up in a horrible job market, especially when more and more schools are doing it. Additionally, as the article notes, employers are hip to the jive and are thus unlikely to care that a student's GPA is .333 higher.

It's good to see the paper give a skeptical glance to this grade-meddling. However, the NYT dropped the ball by failing to mention the larger problems that cause schools to come up with half-assed schemes like a GPA boost. The utter lack of legal jobs and the unemployment massacre that J.D. grads are entering after school is the root cause of these limpwristed efforts to aid students. As the article notes, how much of a boon these schemes will provide is quite debatable.

In an article that casts a suspicious eye on grade inflation and efforts by schools to pay employers to "test drive" their grads, more ought to have been said about what a bloody, suicidal clusterfuck law school has become. Instead, readers are given a few lines that passively reference the boiling cauldron of excrement that is the law school scam.
Once able to practically guarantee gainful employment to thousands of students every year, the schools are now fielding complaints from more and more unemployed graduates, frequently drowning in student debt.

"Fielding complaints" from "more and more" (read: tens of thousands) of graduates sounds a lot like the righteous anger of the law school scambloggers and other scammed grads. Yet a mere reference to "complaints" makes the whole backlash against law school seem wholly insignificant and whiny. There is a whole lot more going on than just a few complaints being filed!

As long as mainstream media outlets temper their reporting about the problems in legal education with an overall positive assessment, casual readers (like 0Ls and their parents) are not going to get the message. They might come away with some inkling that all is not well in law school land, but will just write it off. After all, it definitely isn't going to happen to THEM! As long as the plight of the tens of thousands of scammed grads is characterized as "a few complaints," or an aberration on the road to $160k salaries, unknowing students will continue to matriculate. I'm not expecting the NYT or any other respectable paper to adopt the tone of a scambuster, but it would be nice to see them give a harder look to the problems facing law grads.


  1. Part of the problem is that law school has been the fallback for journalists for decades. They're almost as invested in the idea of law as a "safe" out as your average 0L.

  2. Don't expect much from the New York Times.

  3. nytimes == voice of banking. And banks are making a fortune off student loans.

  4. 6:13 nailed it. The paper will not hurt its benefactors. With regards to grade inflation, other schools will pick up on this trend - which will nullify any benefit to these students. Also, how will legions of JDs feel when they graduate with a 3.65 GPA and no practical job prospects? Yes, that will really boost their self-esteem, won't it?!

  5. Question: If a student has a 4.33 GPA in law school, will that student graduate with a 4.663 GPA or a 4.33? And does the grade inflation apply retroactively? I still yet may become the next Ronald Dworkin of this generation.