Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Law schools and ethics

According to the New York Times, at least ten law schools have recently changed their grading standards in order to intentionally inflate student GPAs (grade point averages). How else can their students compete, after all -- surely not on the basis of their superior knowledge and ability. One school -- Loyola Law School Los Angeles, is simply tacking .333 to every student's GPA -- retroactively.

Another name for this is "fraud." It's designed to hide the truth and deceive potential employers and the public. It's destructive. And it helps explain the low repute of the law profession, which in large part seems to be based on the twisting of words and meanings, and deception. I wonder where attorneys learned this?

Contrast the attitude of the law school administrators with the following: I'm familiar with a case at a moderately decent engineering school, in which an entire class in a particular engineering course earned F's. They protested, pointing out that this set everyone of them back one full year since courses can't be taken out of sequence. The professor responded that if they were passed without understanding the course material, they would go on to design things that would fail and kill people. The Engineering College backed the professor (basically told the students to go to h*** with their complaint).

Either these law schools see law as unimportant so this grade inflation doesn't matter, or else they simply see their mission as getting whatever they can for themselves and the public be damned. I suspect it is the latter.

Note that most of our politicians are attorneys, and you'll begin to see why so much of politics seems based on looting the public. There's a kind of self-selection for scoundrels with low standards in all this.

I tend to try to discourage my students from going into law schools for exactly these sorts of reasons.

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