Thursday, July 26, 2012

The wisdom of Solomon

 (Updated below)

More than a week ago ITLSS pointed out that the reported debt numbers for Rutgers-Camden law graduates didn't appear to make any sense. Within a few hours, with the help of internet crowd-sourcing, it became clear what had happened: Rutgers-Camden was reporting only the law school debt incurred by its graduating class in the class's third year, rather than, as it was required to by the ABA, over the course of attending the school.  (It also became evident that Georgia State and Barry -- at least -- were making the same "mistake." The numbers for Southern and Texas Southern are probably wrong in the same way).

On Monday, Rutgers' Dean Rayman Solomon  sent an email to the school's students, purporting to explain what had happened.  Here is the relevant portion:

The third post occurred [this is a reference to the first ITLSS post linked above] on July 18th and questioned our reported number for average indebtedness at graduation.  The reported number was incorrect. Here is the sequence of events:   each year the ABA asks for information about student indebtedness.  The number for average indebtedness was one that until this year had not been publicly reported - it was reported to the ABA and they did not reprint it or disclose it.  Our process for determining that number is that one of our administrative staff members gets the data from the University's financial aid office and fills out the answer to the question.  The staff person interpreted the question as asking what the average debt was for a graduating 3L for the third year --- not the total three-year indebtedness.   This year US News asked for the data and we gave them what we had given the ABA.  US News then did a ranking on least and most expensive schools.  On the day the ranking came out I was informed by a fellow dean that we, along with a number of schools, had incorrectly interpreted the question.  I immediately informed the ABA of our mistake.  The ABA sent out an email to all schools and asked each to verify this number as there were enough schools that had the same problem to require everyone to recheck the information.  We worked with financial aid to generate the accurate number, which was more difficult than one might imagine, as it required tracing students who had started in different years and taking out the undergraduate debt of Rutgers graduates.  As soon as we could complete the process we reported to the ABA our accurate number.  When US News requested the corrected number I supplied it to them.  The ABA was completely satisfied that there was no intentional misconduct on our part.  However, I sign the ABA questionnaire certification, and I take full responsibility for this mistake.

Dean Solomon is claiming that he knew nothing about this "mistake" (which the law school he's been running since 1998 has committed every year since at least 2008 ) until March, 2012, when a helpful fellow dean informed him of it. Prior to this year, according to Dean Solomon, only the ABA had this information "and they did not reprint it or disclose it."  So Rutgers-Camden did not benefit from the misreported information, and indeed remained unaware of the  mistake until this March.

I will assume that Dean Solomon's statement that another dean contacted him is true. Every other assertion in the previous paragraph is provably false.  The facts are these:

(1) US News has been asking law schools for graduating class debt data since at least the graduating class of 2008.  It has been publishing this data on the internet, where any interested party has been able to examine it. (Note that US News gets this data directly from law schools themselves, not from the ABA).

(2) In March of 2011 US News ran a story entitled "Ten Law Degrees With Most Financial Value at Graduation."  This story ranked Rutgers-Camden as providing its graduates with the third-most valuable law degree in the country, measured in terms of the ratio between the purported average law school debt of its graduates and their purported median private sector starting salary.

(3) In November of 2011, the National Jurist ran a story on "Best Value Law Schools," giving Rutgers-Camden a grade of A- for offering "an affordable education with great job prospects." Like the March 2011 US News story, this story cited the school's remarkably low graduate debt totals.

(4) On November 15, 2011, Rutgers' Media Relations Office distributed a press release to the local and national media, quoting from and linking to both the US News and National Jurist stories ranking Rutgers-Camden as one of the most affordable and best value law schools in the nation.  This press release quotes Dean Solomon regarding the US News and National Jurist affordability/best-value rankings:

“These rankings, while gratifying, represent just a glimpse into the Rutgers–Camden law school experience,” says Rayman Solomon, dean of the Rutgers School of Law–Camden.  “Our curriculum and faculty prepare our students for success at every level of the profession.  In addition to the success of our graduates in the private sector, the Rutgers–Camden law school  also prepares them for success in the judiciary and in the public interest sector. 
So, in direct contradiction to what he asserted in Monday's e-mail to his students, Dean Solomon is on record as having known since at least November of last year that US News publishes law graduate debt rankings, and that his school does extraordinarily well in those rankings.

Of course it is utterly fantastic to imagine that Dean Solomon hasn't been perfectly well aware for several years that Rutgers-Camden has been reporting phony debt numbers to both the ABA and US News since at least 2008.  He has been the dean of the school for 14 years; it's beyond incredible to think he's been under the impression that Rutgers-Camden graduates actually graduate with debt loads one third as large as those carried by graduates of his school's most direct competitors for potential students, i.e., Rutgers-Newark and Temple. 

What is also beyond incredible is that Dean Solomon thinks it's a good idea to continue to lie so shamelessly.  I am sincerely curious if the ABA is going to do anything about the fact that Dean Solomon is lying to it about when he discovered this mistake.

I'm also curious regarding whether Bob Morse is going to do anything about the fact that as of last Friday Dean Solomon had done nothing to inform US News regarding the radically incorrect numbers US News has been publishing regarding Rutgers since at least 2008 -- numbers which by his own admission he has known for at least four months were completely wrong, although I'm fairly confident the internal communications of Rutgers University document that he has known this for much longer (perhaps some enterprising lawyer will try to find out exactly how long).

Also, it would be nice to know when US News is going to bestir itself to correct its webpage reporting average graduate debt, since it now apparently has the correct figure for 2011 from Rutgers (a figure which Dean Solomon omits to mention in his phony mea culpa to his students). In addition, inquiring minds would like to know if US News has bothered to contact Georgia State and Barry, if those schools haven't sent corrections to the publication themselves.  (Needless to say the ABA ought to be looking into these "mistakes" as well).

A final note of incredulity: I'm well aware a lot of people will still somehow find a way to characterize all this as no big deal.  The fact that a law school dean has been lying to the ABA for years about a number his school is required to report to the school's accrediting organization will be treated as somehow not important. The fact that a law school dean has provably known since last year that national publications were running stories publicizing his school on the basis of phony numbers the school has transmitted to the ABA, and he did nothing to correct the public record, will be rationalized away as insignificant ("Anybody who is naive enough to believe those kinds of stories deserves what they get").  The fact that this dean continues even now to repeat these lies to his own students is of no consequence.  By now these "kids" should know they're pretty much screwed, so what's one more lie on top of all the others?

Destroying the capacity for outrage is in some ways the worst crime these institutions commit.

Update:  Given Dean Solomon's incredible representation to the ABA that he only became aware in March that the school was reporting inaccurate graduate debt numbers, two readers have asked me to post information on how to contact the ABA regarding this matter:

Office of the Consultant on Legal Education /
Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar

American Bar Association
321 N. Clark Street, 21st Floor
Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 312.988.6738
Fax: 312.988.5681
legaled@americanbar.org

Another reader asked for a link to my article on the law school crisis (This is an updated SSRN version of an earlier draft some readers may have downloaded from ExpressO.  The updated version includes among other things 2011 salary and debt information, along with the most current information on law schools hiring their own graduates).




97 comments:

  1. Quick edit- I think you mean GA State instead of Tech in the opening paragraphs.

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  2. Why are law schools prone to making "inadvertent" mistakes which ALWAYS favor them? Whether it is reporting federal clerkship placement, salaries, employment data, LSAT admin. numbers or indebtness figures, why are all these mistakes always tilted to favor the scam? These "academics" and deans preach about ethics and how you must correct your mistakes once you discover them. Hello, Rutgers-Camden was repeating the "mistake" over a period of years. Do you think if a taxpayer made this kind of mistake (underreporting income) over a length of time, the IRS would say "oh ok, understandable, we'll waive criminal prosecution, interest, penalties and other fees because you are such an honest person?"

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  3. Wow, the gloves are off! This is awesome!

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  4. And. Boom. Goes. The. Dynamite.

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  5. Mistruth piled atop mistruth... The term "snake oil salesman" comes to mind.

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  6. Genocide is an outrage.

    This is a petty fraud that should get a handful of people fired.

    What's ridiculous (although not an outrage) is that noone will get fired, or even meaningfully censured, for their fraudulent conduct.

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  7. LUCKY SEVEN

    I'm glad I went part-time, worked full-time and got out of the LSS (law school scam) after 1L.

    Phew!

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  8. preachon, lawprof!

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  9. I'm one of those who were blasé about yesterday's post. I agree that today's is a big effing deal.

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  10. In this case, the prospective law student could multiply their first year's tuition and fees by three, and add another 8% for the federal vigorish, to see through Rutgers-Camden's false advertising on this issue.

    Now, they would have no way of knowing how hard it would be to keep a "merit scholarship," or that the employment rates and median starting salaries were pure bullshit, but they could figure out that $30,000 per year wasn't magically going to be $30,000 in debt after three years.

    It's nice to know that Dean Solomon can always find somebody making a twentieth of his salary to blame for these little errors, though.

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  11. Question:

    Was Rutgers-Camden reporting an accurate number for some period, and then reporting an inaccurate number until LP called them out?

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  12. Such an awesome post.

    LawProf, given that several of the cases against law schools have been dismissed, what do you think is the best way to penalize schools or their administration for this kind of conduct?

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  13. Yeah something I find most disgusting about his excuse is that he pins it on some staffer. Was no one supervising this person? Was no one supervising this staff person's supervisor? Where's the accountability? Maybe the person at the bottom did make an honest mistake at first- but the blame for the continued error, and Rutgers continuing to promote the numbers as a positive in its favor does NOT lie with that staff person. Chances are whoever that person was, made less money in one year than the dean makes each month. Disgusting.

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  14. After the ABA fined U of I for lying about its admissions stats, it will be interesting to see if the bar association "police" follow up with audits of other numbers routinely published by law schools -- loans, employment data, etc.

    If the ABA is serious about verifying law school data, an admittedly huge undertaking, much of what schools publish could turn out to be rubbish.

    But, I guess we shouldn't be surprised...

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  15. So judges don't consider publication of these false data material in the decision to attend law school.

    Unless the FTC starts getting involved, there is no consequence to the lies. If you further lie about the lie with some seemingly plausible excuse, you can get a total pass.

    I'm sure that Rutgers will continue to tout its best buy status. The whole thing makes me sick.

    I've said it before, and I'll say it again, unlimited federal loans make all of this possible. All you have to do is fill the seats, and you get paid in full. Until that changes, don't expect law school administration conduct to.

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  16. Upon re-reading, I withdraw my question.

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  17. Some more wisdom:

    It seems the scambloggers are in a tizzy, and I can't help but wonder why. Did they honestly think that they would make $100k+, or even $60k+ GUARANTEED after sitting in 3 years in class? Did they really think that riches would be bestowed upon them after sitting on Facebook, texting, and playing games for 3 years while the professor spoke? If life was that easy everyone would be rich. And yet the scambloggers are all upset over their debt load. Well, it's not the schools fault that many law students like to spend, spend, spend. You were given aid for housing, for eating out, binge drinking, partying, dating, and living it up for 3 years. Now it's time to pay it back! And you are all so angry.

    So let's see here. You didn't get the big $$$ job after 3 years that the government paid you to party, play on your new computers, socialize, and enjoy not having to work. And you are upset that although the schools charged you $40k/year to learn a profession, you can't make $70-80k right out of it? Talk about entitled! You all wanted your "golden tickets", yet you wanted them with minimal effort. And you claim you can't find a job outside of law, or that nobody wants a JD. Yet, when I see ads for non-legal positions in finance, I see it stated that a JD is actually a plus, right on the ad! Perhaps $30-40k isn't enough for you though. After living like how you perceived a lawyer to live on federal loans, you crave more. Scambloggers are the most entitled bunch of whiners I have ever seen on the internet. Of course they are mad though, they put in minimal effort to find work, add a mix of lame excuses (they don't want JDs, etc.), and then blame the system. It was your CHOICE to go to law school. You lived well for three years! Many of you gloat that you never paid attention in class yet you expect the big paying jobs! Ha!

    Here's a little lesson for you: if you don't put in the effort, you won't get the reward$. Of course, you all know that I'm right, yet you don't want to say it. Instead you will create new (badly articulated and horribly reasoned) arguments as to why this truth is wrong. You will state: "No, THEY (always blaming someone else for your mistakes) said I would make $70k+". You have to turn that blame inward sometime. You will never find any happiness in your lives if you sit behind the computer and whine about your existence. And suicide isn't going to solve a thing!

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  18. (continued) Now, you all lived like kings during law school, eating at the finest restaurants, dancing at the barrister's ball, dating the hottest of the hot, taking advantage of your "law student" status, and living in cushy student housing. You partied like it was 1999 and you drank like alcohol was going out of style. Your clothing was impeccable. In class, instead of listening the lectures you played the newest and sleekest games, you browsed Amazon and bought the finest products you could afford. You rode to school in late model automobiles and filled up the tanks on Sally Mae's dime. You took trips funded by Uncle Sam. And now you claim that you got nothing for the last 3 years? You lived like KINGS! The majority of people in the world will NEVER have experienced life like you had it in the last 3 years. Many people even in this country don't know what it's like. So don't you dare tell me you got nothing for it. Stop your whining and your sense of entitlement. Because if there is one thing that is wrong with this world today, it's entitlement.

    Now, there's plenty of jobs out there that will pay $30-40k. IBR is an option for you, and no conspiracy theory excuses why they may get rid of it. They won't. Get a job dish washing, waiting tables, anything. You are all so-called 'smart kids'. Why not use your brains? Or did they stop working the day you graduated? For crying out loud, you don't need to put you have a JD on every resume you make. Sometimes it's not necessary or needed.

    You're not going to live like a king for a while. Those days of living off Sally Mae's back are gone for a while. You got more than you deserved. A law degree, a cushy life for 3 years, and a vacation from the "real world" where people do struggle. You're adults now, yet you whine like children. Everyone struggles to a point in life. Why should you be any different? Because you goofed off for three years and took a few tests? Wow, talk about entitlement... It's really disgusting, to be honest.

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  19. Remember when this blog started, and the law school community was outraged that LawProf called the business a scam?

    Ah, good times.

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  20. Paul, I am going to pay you a high compliment: you're wasted on legal academia, you should have been a practicing lawyer.

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  21. @ 8:00 A.M.

    Nice strawman argument you have there, Leiter.

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  22. I'm not a civil attorney so maybe one can address this question. If a judge dismisses a suit and one of the defendants in the suit (e.g. the Cooley or New York cases) is later discovered to have provided factually false information (as opposed to telling the literal truth, but in a misleading way, featuring lots of small print and asterisks and qualifiers) how does this affect the viability of an appeal, or refiling based on the new information?

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  23. @7:59/8:00 a.m.:

    It's all good stuff, but did you really need two posts to troll us as entitled little whiners?

    Electrons may be free, but you don't need to write like it.

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  24. 8:00 AM--you have some valid points but it is unfair to generalize that all law students lived lavishly in law school. I know some did (like that guy in the NYT article who went to Prague and the South of France on student loans); most didn't. It doesn't change the fact that the schools have presented misleading and in some cases false information regarding the value of the degree being peddled.

    Your comment about omitting a JD from a resume is one that I think deserves some discussion. I understand it can be poison with some prospective employers. But how does one explain the three year gap in one's history without getting pulled further into a web of lies? And given how many prospective employers conduct credit checks these days, they can easily find out about a six figure student loan debt.

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  25. At the heels of the article before this one, Crux of the Law, one of the best posters on this blog, by the way, expressed bewilderment at the anti-boomer rage. I'm a boomer, but I think I get it. The Boomers running any institution: law schools, hedge funds, Congress, you name it--never take personal responsibility for anything. Instead, they look upon the scams and dodges they construct as being clever and "really smart"; not as cons that are destroying the very real lives of very real people. My generation constructs a scam, gets caught, no problem. We just spin the con as an "inadvertant error" and then say, "no problem, now lets move on."

    To you millenials: believe it or not, there was a time when teaching at a University was looked upon as a calling, an opportunity to serve the next generation, not as an opportunity to make enough to buy a Mercedes and a beach-front condo. Professors made a comfortable, middle-class living, garnered some prestige in their local community, but that was about all. Law schools were small and not intended to make a profit. I admit, when the baby boomers crashed the gates, that changed---the con game began. I'm sorry.

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  26. You are just at the tip of the iceberg of the boomer hate.
    You should read the TLS thread.

    All of the problems that millenials are facing go back to the way spoiled boomers ran the country, any institution, etc. Boomers were able to get housing, buy cars, go to law school at very affordable prices. Boomers look at salaries some grad get and think that we are complaining for no reason. One guy on TLS posted "sure tuition was low in 1983 but salaries were lower too." How do you even explain to someone like that?

    What is worse is that boomers don't see what they have done and then call millenials "entitled and lazy."

    I'll get off this point because it isn't relevant, just understand, the boomers have created and are creating a huge mess for their kids to live with and clean up. Remember that the same boomers who are (or will be) living on government entitlement programs are the same people who think that millenials don't deserve loan forgiveness.

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  27. FYI -- "millennial" has 2 n's.

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  28. Lawprof: I think lying about debt is a big deal. I don't know what more to do about it though. We have posted about it on TLS and discussed it.

    I don't know why the plantiffs were unable to establish to this boomer out-of -touch judge how much people actually did rely on these numbers. Why couldn't they prove that these numbers were crucially important to young people making these decisions?

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  29. 7:59/8:00 am - I don't think you get it. I am a fiscally conservative guy (not so much a social conservative) who came from nothing and made it entirely on my own through undergrad and T10 in the 80's with no, as in zero debt. I did well too, summa cum laude, law review, and so on, with a ridiculous surplus of BigLaw choices. I could easily fall into the trap of calling those stuck in the law school scam "whiners" or "entitled". Sure, some minority might fit that description, but that same minority existed when I was in law school. But that would be a mistake.

    Look, I agree as a matter of personal finance that everyone, including law students, should be far more sensitive to debt than they have been. But the law schools and the government have conspired, unintentionally or not, to engage in the kind of business practices which caused the sub-prime mortgage market to collapse. Under the guise that home ownership always leads to positive outcomes, the housers and politicians ended up visiting a disaster on our economy. The education is always great crowd is doing just the same thing, except that we generally a have more difficult time comprehending the depth of the scam because the victims, unlike with the sub-prime mortgage crisis, are not poor minority citizens but rather are the sons and daughters of our middle class, now stuck with loans with terms that would make an auto title/fast cash loan company's terms look generous. No enterprise built on one sided instruments and rip-off loans can sustain itself. I used to think this was kind of a conservative principle - after all - a good business is one with customers who remain viable and are treated fairly - but I think it transcends politics - the law school market is not a good one, and is built upon a business model of trolling for federal dollars using students as absurdly burdened conduits.

    And finally, 7:59/8:00 - look at the economic impact. These loans will have a huge impact on this generation. It is in my self-interest to solve this problem and avoid blaming whiners. I shudder to think of the damage these loans cause - the relationships ruined, the marriages not entered into, the houses not bought, the vehicles not bought, the health problems, the productive (remember, we are talking the middle class here) and happy children not being born? The last item is really a negative. We need productive and happy offspring to keep the nation strong, especially in a global, knowledge based economy. Really, a lecture about the whiners? We have to fix the problem, and it will likely involve Government restraint and changed policy. But until then, the work Prof. Campos is doing is vital - far more vital than any law review article I have ever read - he is a credible purveyor of market information and is finally helping to make the market efficient. You can warn about entitlement attitudes - it has always been a problem - but it is in all of our interest (except maybe for the law professors and politicians who like to dole out favors) to identify this problem and help solve it.

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  30. 7:59 and continued at 8:00 -

    I'm sorry, I didn't quite capture the essence of your thoughts.

    Can you re-phrase?

    Thanks, awfully.

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  31. "Yet, when I see ads for non-legal positions in finance, I see it stated that a JD is actually a plus, right on the ad!"

    Links or it didn't happen.

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  32. Even in the digital age, it is amazing how many lies are hiding in plain sight!

    The dean plays the old "plausible deniability" trick of blaming an unnamed staff member, while taking "full responsibility" for having inadvertently certified the error--you know, the ABA questionaire certification was just one of countless forms he had to sign while doing important dean stuff, and a little math error buried in one of the forms is going to slide by occasionally.

    How could anybody think that the ABA, or anyone else, would care about the "debt... for a graduating 3L for the third year --- not the total three-year indebtedness"? I mean, if that was a relevant inquiry, all schools could claim zero debt for graduating 3Ls by simply raising tuition by 50% for the first two years and then comping the third year.

    dybbuk

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  33. @ 8:44 -

    Wow, very tightly reasoned and clearly written response.

    Kudos!

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  34. Basically what 7:59/ 8:00 is saying is summarized by his hateful sentence
    "You got more than you deserved."
    Nothing more to say.
    Why even post here? Go away, you don't know anything about what is going on.

    If you want to be helpful, email Rutgers-Camden about their lying dean. I am going to do so.

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  35. If a judge dismisses a suit and one of the defendants in the suit (e.g. the Cooley or New York cases) is later discovered to have provided factually false information (as opposed to telling the literal truth, but in a misleading way, featuring lots of small print and asterisks and qualifiers) how does this affect the viability of an appeal, or refiling based on the new information?

    I don't think the subsequent discovery of fraud would affect the substance of the appeal, though it could have a big effect on strategy. However, the fraud could enable a plaintiff to bring a new action and escape the preclusive effect of the prior decision. But it doesn't sound like the type of fraud we're talking about here would be enough to persuade the Cooley judge that the prior decision should not be binding.

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  36. as i said in a prior post, heads need to roll.

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  37. There must be a Rutgers-Camden grad who is willing to sue the school because they lied about how it cheap it was. If a judge says you should have known better after those numbers had been repeated for years and the basis for stories in USN&WR, then I don't know what more can be done.

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  38. You can complain all you want about law students not studying enough and living the high life: law school can be a fun time despite the way the subject matter is taught. But remember that law school functioned for many, many years as a barrier to entering the profession: it kept people out of the profession through delay and expense, and, in the meanwhile, taught some law. As a result, there was work for those that kept on. I don't justify this; I only remark on it.

    Now, the model is broken: because there is so much loan money to be made, the profession has seen to it that anyone can attend some sort of law school and anyone can get the money to do it. However, students don't see that the model is broken until they get out. In other words, in return for the delay and expense, JDs still expect to find work. That's just to be expected as a matter of psychology. Let's face it, no one in his right mind would spend (or indent himself for) $200K (and three years opportunity costs on top of that) to get a $45K job that likely doesn't require a JD. We can say the new JDs are wrong to feel entitled, but the whole system operates to encourage a feeling of entitlement.

    --Porsenna

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  39. All of this is appalling, and here's something that alarms me even more: Dean Solomon, who has been heading a law school for more than a decade, doesn't have a ballpark sense of his students' total debt load at graduation. He sees this as a trivial, bureaucratic number for an administrative staff member to dredge up and report on an annoying questionnaire. And when pushed to find the real number, he complains that this was so difficult.

    This isn't just about reporting some number to the ABA or US News; it's about understanding the financial structure of your institution and it's impact on students. Shame on any dean who doesn't *KNOW* the average at-graduation debt of the latest class within a few thousand dollars, as well as general trends for that debt over the last ten years.

    You can bet that any dean knows all sorts of figures trotted out to sell the school: average LSAT, how that number has increased over the years, average citation counts for faculty, school's rank in whatever ranking scheme or sub-scheme gives the school the highest place ("We rank among the top twenty public law schools east of the Mississippi!").

    It's shocking that a dean doesn't have a hands-on sense of graduate debt. Not surprising given what we've learned about law schools, but shocking nonetheless.

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  40. "indebt" not "indent."

    --Porsenna

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  41. 7:59/8:00 - In your next post(s), please don't forget to tell everybody how you pulled yourself up by your bootstraps from pitiably modest beginnings. Don't leave out the parts about trudging barefoot three miles through the woods to attend a one-room schoolhouse... passing on acceptance to private party-hearty college to attend Hardknocks State U on scholly ... and putting yourself through TTTT School of Law by working three jobs and driving an 11-year old Datsun. And by all means describe how you built up a fabulously successful practice in dogbite law through perseverence, discipline and hard work!

    God bless you.

    Lawprof, time to shut this baby down. Attorney Alger has spoken and it's time to get to work!

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  42. Since LawProf is being modest, he didn't link to his research paper. I believe that it has been mentioned before, but here is the link anyway:

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2102702

    Excellent read.

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  43. ReTLS on boomer hate:
    http://www.top-law-schools.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=188008

    Don't know if you have to have an account to sign in and read it.

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  44. Dean Solomon: "I'm shocked, shocked to find fraud going on here!"

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  45. @9:19 Thanks for the link! Can't wait to read that baby.

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  46. "There must be a Rutgers-Camden grad who is willing to sue the school because they lied about how it cheap it was."

    Not to be an apologist for the scam, but if you're a lawyer, you should know the difference between an negligent and intentional misrepresentation.

    At this point, despite Law Prof's commentary (which I generally agree) the evidence still points to an inadvertent or negligent misrepresentation, not an intentional one.

    That's why the law suits against Cooley and NYLS are being dismissed-- it's very difficult to prove intentional fraud. FRCP 9 is a high hurdle, so is the "clear and convincing" burden of proof required at trial under the common law of most states.

    When the smoke clears, the law school scam is likely to be exposed as a series of mistakes, inadvertent statements, and wishful thinking. The industry does not want to tell its students that a J.D. will only benefit the top 40% (if T14 or possibly T6) to top 10% (TTT and lower). In light of this, six figures of non-dischargeable debt do not justify the degree.

    The message will become clearer and clearer as more incidents like this R/C event get disclosed. However, it doesn't mean that a particular law school intentionally "lied"-- at least, not yet.

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  47. DJM:

    I think it's important to emphasize that Solomon *did* claim to know, certainly no later than November of last year, the average law school debt load for Rutgers-Camden grads, since he was quoted responding to positive media coverage of how low it supposedly was.

    Again, it is simply beyond belief that Solomon could have thought those numbers were correct. He's dean of a law school in a major financial crisis: is it conceivable he doesn't know what his school's market position actually is in regard to this absolutely crucial variable? I suggest it isn't.

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  48. Oh my stars, a dean lied?! No way!

    Jesus, how can judges let this industry get off? How can the New Jersey bar sit on its hands?

    The real headlines will be when a law dean is actually telling the truth.

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  49. I'll skip my long winded posting and just say: good job Lawprof/internetz.

    ReplyDelete
  50. "Dean Solomon lied, countless Rutgers grads' futures died."

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  51. Shame on any dean who doesn't *KNOW* the average at-graduation debt of the latest class within a few thousand dollars, as well as general trends for that debt over the last ten years.

    Funny to think that there was a time, not all that long ago, when colleges and universities were actually viewed as acting in loco parentis. Now they're more like a cross between a big-tobacco lobbyist and a variable-annuity salesman.

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  52. the TLS boomer hate thread is the best thing the internet ever produced.

    if millennials and gen x'ers actually form some type of political action group, they may in fact be able to have a say in this thing. til then, though, the well-organized aarp and elderly voting blocs will be pandered to by both parties. can i get some leadership in this bitch!?

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  53. LawProf, excellent point--I agree entirely. I wasn't sufficiently clear that I was taking the lies as proven in your original post, then thinking how shocking it is (on top of all that) that any dean doesn't follow debt loads closely regardless of reporting obligations. I.e., that Solomon should have known these numbers in 1998, as well as 1999, 2000, 2001....

    He (and every other dean) should have been tracking the debt load figures closely and thinking about the impact on graduates. It's yet another indication (as if we needed more) of how law schools have completely abdicated any responsibility toward students, the profession, and clients. All of this plotting and manipulation to affect numbers that can increase rank in US News; almost no thought about responsibility toward students. It seems boring to recite at this point. But as you say, destroying the capacity for outrage is yet another crime.

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  54. 9:42, Law schools today are "like a cross between a big-tobacco lobbyist and a variable-annuity salesman."

    Perfect characterization!

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  55. Amazing that LST was on this BS statistic in May. Also a great opportunity to be reminded of Dean Solomon's quote in regard to the sales pitch to GMAT test takers:

    But were the numbers misleading?

    “I don’t know how to respond,” Solomon said. “If you have a hundred people, would four of them be misled? Would one be misled? Would 98 be misled? [It was] a piece that was designed to get people to think about something they hadn’t thought about. This wasn’t the only information they could get about it.”

    http://www.lawschooltransparency.com/tag/rutgers-camden/

    Human beings are something else :)

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  56. There is plenty more to come from Camden. The school provided LST a report that three senior faculty completed on its class of 2011 stats. Additionally, we submitted an open records request. We have some of the documents (and frankly enough to go on), but the next wave of documents is due to us tomorrow from the school's Custodian of Records.

    The next step will be filing the ABA complaint and showing/publicizing the evidence that Camden made unequivocally false statements.

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  57. LawProf, DJM, Law School Transparency: I love you all.

    ReplyDelete
  58. I sent an email to the ABA. I suggest all of you do the same!

    ReplyDelete
  59. LST
    Just for fun send a copy to whatever NJ board disciplines lawyers.

    ReplyDelete
  60. "What is also beyond incredible is that Dean Solomon thinks it's a good idea to continue to lie so shamelessly. I am sincerely curious if the ABA is going to do anything about the fact that Dean Solomon is lying to it about when he discovered this mistake."


    Hmmm.... Wonder when Dean Solomon is going to "Go Cooley" on LP and file the defamation suit?

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  61. Emailing the ABA is a good idea. I spoke to a higher up at the Section of Legal Education about Camden a month or two ago -- he was not happy at all after reading our findings. On a similar note, the reaction was the same last week to Cooley's latest antics when I brought it to their attention.

    These will be two great test cases to see if the ABA is serious about enforcing its rules. The soft punishment of Illinois should make skeptics of even the most optimistic observers.

    Here's what I said to the Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette:

    "This seems like a soft punishment for years and years of lying," said Kyle McEntee, executive director of Law School Transparency, a Tennessee organization that advocates for more information about legal education.

    A more appropriate punishment would have been to strip the college of its accreditation, he said. The ABA's censure does not get at "why this is happening in first place, why a supposedly rogue admissions dean felt the need to do this," he said. "Law schools across the country, Illinois included, have this culture of competitiveness that trumps the interest of students and the people who the students are going to serve when they graduate."

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  62. This is so messed up. I haven't seen anything on ATL about this; why not?

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  63. This is some straight up gangster shit. I mean, seriously, this is some straight up gangster shit.

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  64. 11:46 A.M.

    "It's hard out there for a pimp...I mean, law school dean."

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  65. It's always something of a shock when institutions or people who have played pivotal roles in our lives turn out to be something other than what we thought they were.

    For most of my professional career I have thought of law schools and their faculty as being fundamentally honest and who had the best interests of their students at heart. Now I learn they are exploiting the young and inexperienced. They should be ashamed of themselves.

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  66. Law Prof, not sure if you are still proof-reading, but you are missing a period after "law schools" and before "Since" in the paragraph second from the bottom on page 10 in your article.

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  67. No way a student would win a suit against the school for this "mistake" of law school debt.

    Even an idiot, let alone a "reasonable consumer" can figure out that 3 years at $30k is $90k no matter what is printed in an article or magazine to the contrary.

    Take a step back and see that this error was too obvious to be relied upon by anyone.

    The law schools are never going to be taken to task by the judicial system. The only thing that will hurt them is when individuals (continue to) decide not to attend.

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  68. 12:30 P.M.

    Isn't that essentially (writ large) what Judge Quist said in his recent ruling against the Cooley plaintiffs? That the stats provided by Cooley were so fudged and incomplete that no one could have reasonably relied on them.

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  69. "Paul, I am going to pay you a high compliment: you're wasted on legal academia, you should have been a practicing lawyer"

    @8:09:

    No, actually he is the best thing to happen to legal academia. Thank God he is in it, or else the schools would continue to defraud and act with impunity.

    I am flabbergasted by today's post. In addition to contacting the ABA, I would also suggest individuals contact the Department of Education to report this:

    Office of Inspector General,
    Department of Education
    http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/oig/index.html

    I am hoping the Office of Inspector General will pay more attention to this than the ABA has. Every single individual in the legal profession should be utterly ashamed that we have allowed the profession to get this far.

    It is absolutely shameful.

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  70. Kyle - quoting yourself in the local U-C newspaper you had stated, "A more appropriate punishment would have been to strip the college of its accreditation, he said. The ABA's censure does not get at "why this is happening in first place, why a supposedly rogue admissions dean felt the need to do this," he said."


    I think accreditation loss is not appropriate. However, going with your theme of "fixing why it happened", how about the ABA quadruple the fine it imposed and prohibit UIUC Law from sending any information to the USNWR rankings folks for 6 years? (6 years being the length of time they sent in fraudulent LSAT/GPA data).

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  71. I have not read all of the posts on this blog in the last week, but just in case some of you do not know, Judge Harold Kahn of San Francisco Superior Court recently overulled the demurrers (akin to motions to dismiss) of University of San Francisco and Golden Gate University to claims that they had misled prospective law students with employment statistics. The cases are Hallock v. University of San Francisco (Case #CGC-12-517861) and Arring v. Golden Gate University (Case #CGC-51-517837). You can download the opinions on the SFSC web site. It will be interesting to see what comes out of formal discovery.

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  72. @12:49

    For the record, a loss of accreditation was on the table. As for appropriateness -- I think I only buy that it is not appropriate if we agree that accreditation should only be stripped when the school is providing an unsound legal education. With that I don't agree, but definitely understand the perspective.

    Your proposal is an interesting one. Kind of like a bowl ban. It's worth considering whether the ABA could do that.

    I did suggest to Bob Morse (h/t to DJM for the idea! I think she also sent him a letter.) that he remove Villanova and Illinois from the rankings this year, using the bowl ban analogy. He was receptive at the time, but ultimately they decided against it. Very unfortunate. It was an opportunity to take a stand for data integrity...a failed opportunity.

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  73. Following up on @12:55. Here are the PDFs:

    http://lawschooltransparency.com/lawsuits/Arring_v_GGU-Order-Denying-GGU-Motion-to-Dismiss.pdf

    http://lawschooltransparency.com/lawsuits/Hallock_v_USFL-Order-Denying-USFL-Motion-to-Dismiss.pdf

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  74. Amen, Porsenna, DJM, and Kyle McEntee. (And of course to LP's posting.)

    Thanks to ALL of you for working so tirelessly to bring this to light.

    And to 12:30, who said:

    "Even an idiot, let alone a "reasonable consumer" can figure out that 3 years at $30k is $90k no matter what is printed in an article or magazine to the contrary.

    Response:
    Funny that the position seems to be that consumers are idiots for not catching such 'blatant' errors, but everyone is supposed to express sympathy and complete understanding that a dean didn't catch them. I guess the new standard is that the reasonable, non-legally-educated consumer is supposed to be much more educated and savvy about employment and debt figures for law graduates than the reasonable law school dean.

    On another note, I would like to request an opinion from some of you more experienced practitioners: I just finished reading the Cooley decision. Part of the ruling was adamant that Cooley did not INTEND to deceive and that the figures posted were not misleading - they were just misunderstood by the readers.

    Law school hypothetical to be solved: Let's say, for the hypothetical's sake, that evidence could be found that a school purposely did not solicit the salaries of some of its graduates that it knew were working in lower-paid positions. For example, let's imagine that a law school's graduate employment survey only asked respondents to report their salary if they were working as an attorney or law clerk. Let's also say that the law school had an extremely high number of graduates who worked in non-legal, retail positions. Would the fact that the law school avoided soliciting non-legal salaries that it knew would bring down its overall salary level demonstrate intent to deceive on the part of the school w/ regards to this? Just curious...

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  75. I wish LP would make the full versions of documents he references available via hyperlink (like the e-mail above). While I appreciate his summaries sometimes I like to read the entire document for myself.

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  76. @7:59

    Listen you faux-conservative douche, stop the fucking no-nonsense. Seriously, the time for half-measure and talk with people like you, i.e. fake-conservatives, is over.

    You can take the implications of your statement and leave them at the corner.

    Let a person with real conservative convictions, proper fiscal perspectives, and true moral foundations lay it down for you real fucking simple.

    There is nothing easy associated with becoming a lawyer. There is nothing easy about getting an education or becoming a lawyer. Getting an education is harder than working in many instances, even if you slack all the way through (slack by the way is a relative term in this context). Proof? Here it fucking is: take a look at any of the high end police departments in the continental United States. The higher end officers make high six figures, and in rare instances 7 figures. Do you know what is required to move up the ranks in the overwhelming majority of instances? A few exams. Do you know what happens if you fail those exams? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. You do not get fired, you do not get punished, etc.

    Typically, someone will study between 3 months to a year for each respective exam. Do you know what percentage of officers take the exam? Think less than 25%. That’s right douche bag, said officers find it infinitely easier to work 80 hours a week and accumulate overtime rather than try to pass one fucking test and increase their income by 30% for 30% less work (or 60% for 60% less work if they take even more tests). What I just described applies to every high paying municipal job around the country. So my question is this: why do most of these guys and gals choosing to work 80 hours a week rather than taking a test if working is so much harder than getting education and/or being evaluated via mental exercises? I think the answer is simple: taking tests and getting an education is harder than working my man.

    And do not even fucking think about telling me that passing the municipal tests is harder than slacking through law school and becoming a lawyer. The biggest slacker that makes it through the process has to i) take the LSAT, ii) perform even at a minimal level at LS for 3 years, iii) take the MPRE, and iv) pass the Bar. The Bar alone is a harder than most of these promotional exams, which frequently ask questions involving basic arithmetic.

    30-40k is a bad outcome for someone that went to school for 7 years, even if they put the minimal effort (which is measured relative to their peers), especially in light of the debt load involved. Yet, many, many, many law grads would be happy with such an outcome. An outcome by the way that janitors for the NYC department of education would spit on.

    Your false moral outrage about kids living it up on the tax payer’s dime is so fucking disgusting. I am a real conservative, and real conservatives care about this: the tax payer is getting fleeced, bottom fucking line. It does not matter that stupid kids are being used as a conduit for the theft, it matters that the theft is happening.

    So why don’t you do everybody a favor and focus on the real culprit here: the people pocketing the money; the same people who know that these kids will not be able to pay back the debt; the same people who are feeding these kids’ inflated egos and stupidity; the same people who are, as you can fucking see, outright lying about material aspects of this process.

    Here is what’s happened folks. There are a bunch of people everywhere in this country that have figured out how to use i) social capital, ii) connections, iii) mass envy, and iv) mass held social beliefs, i.e. education pays, in order to steal. In the process of their stealing, they are destroying lives and they are trying to use the mass envy to distract everyone from the theft.

    Bottom fucking line.

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  77. 1:20: We are on polar opposites of the political spectrum, but well said, sir. Well said.

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  78. 1:20:

    Thank you. I second 1:23. May I borrow this from time-to-time so that I can copy/paste it in various comment sections on other boards so that when assheads like the original poster "think" I am armed with our comment?

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  79. your comment...

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  80. I too want to thank 1:20 for that rant. Home run ball right there. Swung yard.

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  81. @ 1:47,

    Please by all means.

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  82. @1:20

    While I generally agree with the points you are making, I am getting tired of reading posts by people suggesting that ditching law school for Police Academy is somehow a more guaranteed way of making it into some upper-middle class strata. Case in point from 2 weeks ago, in case you missed it:
    http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/lookout/scranton-minimum-wage-city-police-firemen-140229063.html

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  83. @ 2:51,

    Ditching school for the police academy is a great idea if you don't come from money. Most major metropolitans pay these guys and gals a fucking fortune, and when they DEMAND stuff no one calls them entitled, unlike when you are educated.

    Moreover, you can always go back to school if that job does not work out. Those Scranton cops can get on the Student Loan band wagon if they do not like the minimum wage salary they are getting. However, once you go to school first, you have to carry the black mark of your education forever, and suffer the consequences that stem therefrom.

    The key is to use social and political capital.

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  84. The question of "intent" is generally one for the jury and not appropriate for summary judgment. I haven't read the Cooley opinion but I hope the ruling judge had more than that!

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  85. This is probably a dumb comment but ... why can't the new federal consumer protection bureau or some other agency compile career financial statistics for attorneys using census or IRS data? Could it be that difficult?

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  86. A company I was general counsel of does hundreds of technology licenses worth very large amounts of money. From time to time we would audit licensees - and we would find royalty reporting errors - they were always "inadvertent" but only 5% were overpayments, somehow the inadvertent mistakes were 20-1 in the licensees' favor.

    hmmmm

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  87. Back in the 90s I was in a law firm in Japan - and I managed a lot of outside counsel. Controlling billing was part of the job - eventually I made a bunch of companies simply adopt billing guidelines. I will quote from standard billing guidelines:

    Errors in Bills
    Firms should recognise that the cost of legal services is, in real terms, very significant, and that with respect to hours charged COMPANY has little option but to rely on the assurances of the billing firm as to the appropriateness of the amounts billed. Errors in bills, and in particular frequent billing errors are deeply corrosive to COMPANY’s trust in the firm. They must therefore be treated by the billing firm as a very serious matter.

    Errors in bills are the responsibility of the partner in charge of the case at each firm retained (the billing partner). If there are errors in bills the billing partner should investigate. COMPANY believes that it is good practice and good client relations for any letter of apology or explanation with respect to billing queries to be signed by the billing partner, and not by that partner’s secretary. It is not normal practice to pay invoices which contain an error until they are corrected. However, in the event that the amount in dispute is small relative to the full amount of the invoice, COMPANY may, on request from the billing firm, agree to split invoices, i.e., one invoice for the amount not in dispute and one invoice for the amount in dispute.


    The reference to the partners secretary - that is why 4 or 5 of the biggest firms were blacklisted by some large Japanese companies - they were disgusted by a senior partner blaming his secretary. The same should apply to a law school dean.

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  88. Dean Solomon is an Illinois lawyer - so direct complaints there.

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  89. Full Licensed Name: Rayman Louis Solomon
    Full Former name(s): None
    Date of Admission as Lawyer
    by Illinois Supreme Court: October 23, 1976
    Registered Business Address: Rutgers Univ School of Law Camden
    217 N 5Th St
    Camden, NJ 08102-1203
    Registered Business Phone: (856) 225-6191
    Illinois Registration Status: Not authorized to practice law as attorney is not currently registered with ARDC and has not demonstrated required MCLE compliance
    Malpractice Insurance:
    (Current as of date of registration;
    consult attorney for further information) In annual registration, attorney reported that he/she does not have malpractice coverage. (Some attorneys, such as judges, government lawyers, and in-house corporate lawyers, may not carry coverage due to the nature of their practice setting.)

    And you can get an investigation form here:

    http://www.iardc.org/information/online_forms/RequestFormFillable.pdf

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  90. MacK,

    In your experience, is the impulse to shift blame a human impulse or a cultural one?

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  91. Learn a lot from this moral story.Thank you.

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  92. Great moral story the wisdom of Solomon.I like it.

    ReplyDelete
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