Sunday, April 26, 2009

Law Schools on Steroids

The annual USN&WR rankings and the inevitable controversy that follows, steroid use by baseball players, and a recent article in the New Yorker ("Brain Gain," April 27, 2009) have made me realize that I am not sure what it means to cheat. It's not that I do not regard lying as cheating but things get very blurry after that.

You could say that cheating means everything that creates a perception that is not accurate.

In the law school ranking context, employment rates are suppose to reflect the demand of graduates so that applicants can assess their chances of landing jobs if they enroll at that law school. A school raises that number by hiring its own graduates. Is the School engaged in a misrepresentation? Does it matter that the number might have been achieved if the school had devoted more resources to placement.

In baseball, a player's average of 20 home runs a year jumps to 35 after the use of steroids. 35 might have been achieved with a conditioning program that would have been much more difficult than a few shots in the butt. Why does this concern law school officials who are quick to hire their own graduates or solicit applications from people with no chance of admission?

A student turns in four terms papers on time after several all-nighters aided by Adderall which was not prescribed or was prescribed after the student read up on how to describe the "right" symptoms to a physician. Or course, the same papers could have been submitted with less partying and more planning. Why would someone doing this give a second thought to steroid use?

I think cheating is increasingly defined by what someone else is doing. This seems especially true in the law school rankings game. Or maybe it is defined as being anything you would prefer not to reveal or feel compelled to defend. Or it could be that life is ultimately just a fucking free for all. Opps. Now I have cheated -- used the dreaded F-bomb in a blog which may cause idle web surfers to drop by looking for porn and send up the readership or, in another context, SSRN downloads.

Please pass the Adderall. I need to get my exam written by tomorrow.


Anonymous david said...

a very good article and interesting to read

5/03/2009 11:45 AM  
Anonymous Apostille said...

Liked the post..


5/06/2009 11:12 PM  

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