***This email will seem to you like the least surprising thing in the world, which makes it ever more tragic. I am a law school applicant. One day I get an email from the University of Miami SOL (funny how "school of law" and "shit out of luck" share an acronym) telling me they would waive my application fee. I didn't do that much research, but thought, hey, Miami could be fun. It's a major city. It's warm. Both my grades are well above their median, so I might get a lot of money from them, etc. Why not fork up the $16 to apply? I did so, and maybe two weeks later I was accepted. A month later, I get a scholarship of $25,000. "A good scholarship! You should consider it!" my parents said (who not-so-secretly want to buy, or want an excuse to buy, a condo there).
Anyway, fast forward to me reading one of your blog posts urging applicants to be persistent in finding detailed statstics on placement/salary, etc (http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2011/12/an-early-christmas-present-for-the-prospective-law-school-class-of-2015 - "Do not even consider enrolling in any school that refuses to supply you the core employment rate, in writing, of the most recent graduating class for which it has that data.") So I go on Miami's website to look up their career stats for the c/o 2010. This is the only thing I find that resembles "detailed statistics": http://www.law.miami.edu/ps/fastfacts.php?op=4. At the bottom, the only stats listed are, "How many reported.." and "Of those, how many are employed..." The total number of employed candidates is listed at 386, or ~84% of the graduating class. Not bad right? But there's no information, none, on what types of jobs these are, whether they require a JD, any salary information, any information on their placement in clerkships or public agencies, etc. The fast facts do say "go to our CDO page for more information". The following is what Miami says is "more information", found under the FAQ for Prospective Students (http://www.law.miami.edu/cdo/cpc_02_03.php?op=2):
"How much money can I expect to earn upon graduating from UM Law?
Salaries vary enormously depending on the type of law you want to practice and the setting in which you wish to practice. Starting salaries of recent UM grads ranged from $30,000 to $150,000. Law firms in the private sector pay more than government and public interest positions, and larger firms pay more than smaller firms do. Salaries of UM law grads are on the whole comparable to the national average salaries calculated by the National Association of Law Placement."
Oh! A salary range of 30,000-150,000. Well I'm satisfied. Oh! Larger firms pay more than smaller firms, private work pays more than public interest, and 10 TIMES 10 is greater than 10 PLUS 10.
I sent them an email asking for more detailed statistics (see below), but they dodged. The last exchange I found particularly maddening because even though I referenced the lack of info on the CDO website, their response was to...send me to the CDO website.
It's becoming clear that these people are hiding something I see two scary things about this: 1) Any shade of academic integrity by schools like Miami (ranked #77, with ~123 schools ranked below it) is compromised by these kinds of tactics. Some universities have now become corporations -- actively hiding things from the consumer to increase profit. But, unlike corporations, which are (poorly, but nonetheless) regulated, the law schools' regulator, the ABA, is asleep at the wheel with no sign of consciousness. 2) It only took your blog for me to realize that DETAILED career stats are a huge, huge deal, and any school not providing this information probably has something they do not want you to see. Without doing due research, I would have thought, as my parents did: the scholarship is nice, the campus looks beautiful, I would not have to pay rent (because of the folks' itch to buy a condo), and surely a school LOCATED in Miami would have tons of jobs IN Miami, right? Nope. Not right. But some like me may not realize this. Is this their fault? William Robinson thinks it is. But I think not. I think the burden of proof should also be on the school CHARGING the hundreds of thousands to give the customers full and honest information about their students' success rates. I shouldn't have to email the school asking for these statistics. Nor should the school basically dodge my requests for more information. [Email correspondence below; read from bottom up]
From: Student Recruiting <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Thu, Jan 26, 2012 at 11:38 AM
Subject: RE: Placement Question
Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2012 11:25 AM
To: Student Recruiting
Subject: Re: Placement Question
Thanks. The fast facts provided here (http://www.law.miami.edu/ps/fastfacts.php?op=4) do provide reporting %, but no salary ranges or private/public breakdown, nor do they say how many of the jobs required a JD. Can you redirect me to another link or provide some more information on this? The fast facts do say to go to the CDO page for more information, but I am not able to find this data on that page. Thanks for your help.
[Name]On Thu, Jan 26, 2012 at 11:05 AM, Student Recruiting <email@example.com> wrote:[Name]
You can find this information on our website: www.miamilawschool.info. If you check under fast facts, there will be statistics for you to see.
Thanks,Luis AcostaOffice of Admissions & Student RecruitmentUniversity of Miami - School of Law1311 Miller Drive, Suite F203Coral Gables, Florida 33146Office: 305.284.6746Fax: 305.284.4400Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 5:35 PM
To: Student Recruiting
Subject: Placement Question
Fairly recently I was admitted to the class of 2015. I'm still interested in Miami but I am nervous about taking out a lot of debt in an uncertain market. I was looking through the UM law website and could not find detailed placement statistics for the class of 2010 or 2011. Most, if not all, of the other schools to which I sent applications had fairly detailed statistics (total graduates, total # of graduates reporting income, pvt/pub sector breakdown, 25-50-75% in salary, etc) on how their graduates fared. Do you have this information? If so, could you please provide me, or send me a link to, placement and salary information for the class of 2010 or 2011?
Thank you for your time,
Meanwhile, over at the Colorado Attorney General's office:
DENVER — Colorado Attorney General John Suthers announced today that the state has reached a settlement with the Oklahoma-based tanning chain At The Beach that resolves allegations that the company misled consumers about its tanning contracts. The agreement requires At The Beach to pay an estimated $350,000 in consumer restitution, fines and attorney fees and requires that At The Beach halt its deceptive sales practices and record all of its future sales.
“This agreement is a victory for the hundred of Colorado consumers who felt that At The Beach was not engaging in fair sales practices,” Suthers said. “We believe the company’s agreement to record all sales transactions will deter future misconduct, and is evidence of the company’s desire to change its sales practices.”
At The Beach allowed its employees to misrepresent that consumers could “cancel their contract at any time,” according to the state’s complaint. Former employees and consumers told investigators that the company failed to disclose that cancellation would require payment of half of the remaining cost of the contract. Consumers also said they first learned of the cancellation fee when they attempted to cancel.
Consumers will be eligible for restitution if they have already filed a written complaint with the Colorado Attorney General’s office or the Better Business Bureau. The Office of the Attorney General estimates that more than $100,000 will be refunded to more than 300 past At The Beach customers. The company also will be required to pay an additional $75,000 to the state to be used to reimburse consumers who file complaints going forward.
The settlement also requires At The Beach to pay a $75,000 fine and $38,500 to cover the costs of the investigation. At The Beach has already reimbursed Colorado consumers approximately $45,000 as a result of the state’s investigation into At The Beach’s credit and collection practices.
The settlement also will require At The Beach to:
To learn more about recent actions the Office of the Attorney General has filed against companies engaged in deceptive trade practices, visit www.coloradoattorneygeneral.gov/consumercases.
- Install recording equipment in all of its stores and maintain an audio copy of every sale;
- Update its contracts to require initialing from consumers throughout the document; and,
- Simplify the documentation required to cancel a contract when moving outside the company’s service areas.
Note that this case involved a contract which stated in writing that customers would be charged for half the remaining balance on their contracts if they canceled them prior to expiration.
The juxtaposition of these stories will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the academic literature on professional self-regulation.