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Gaming the System? Lawyers?

Do law schools "game" the system? Is the Pope Catholic?

Last year, my former employee Suzy joined me at the Chicago Law Forum; my former employee Candice joined me at the Atlanta Law Forum. My new employee Erika joined me at UW's Law Fair. Did I have three employees last year, or none? Harvard Law School played that kind of game to reduce its student-faculty ratio (and you'd better believe I have the hard data to back up a statement like that!)

Wisconsin printed "specialty" sheets for a dozen different areas. Each one included contracts, civil procedure, legal research and writing...

Illinois got called on the carpet for counting the "fair market value" of the free internet time given them by Lexis and Nexis in their "expenditures per student."

Cardozo sent a letter to one of my clients (and I presume a lot of other people) saying, "At present, a small number of seats remain unclaimed.... Because your candidacy has been placed on Hold, we would like to grant you first consideration for one of these few seats. If you are interested in being considered for admission to Cardozo at this time, please respond to this email no later than..."

I have helped teach schools how to "game" the system.

  • Lower your offers and increase your selectivity by asking a "Why Our Law School" question.
  • Place a lot of high-end people on hold and see if they're still interested in late April, as Cardozo did.
  • Map your yield rates by LSAT and gpa, and only make offers in your highest yield parameters.
  • Matriculate fewer students, if necessary, to keep your medians up.

Perhaps the better question is, "Don't you game the system"?

  • Is every activity on your resume one to which you have seriously devoted your time and attention?
  • Did you include more big words in your job description on that resume than you've used in conversation this month?
  • If you worked for a family business, did you make it clear that "Big Corp., Int'l" is Dad's company?
  • Did you list your GPA in your major, since it's higher than your overall gpa?
  • Did you decide you don't need to report that underage drinking or curfew violation because...?

What's wrong with gaming the system?

Women spend thousands of dollars a year on makeup, clothes and hair; men spend it on cars and gyms. Why? "To look good." Isn't that what gaming the system is all about? Every applicant wants to present her- or himself in the best light; why shouldn't law schools?

Even I say that my job is to find the line and put one toe on it.

The problem isn't in trying to present your best image; the problem is in crossing the line of professional, organizational (ABA or AALS) or legal ethics in doing so.

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