The University of Illinois College of Law has had a tough run in recent years. The school was hammered by an admissions scandal after it allegedly admitted unqualified or less competitive students to secure jobs or to please powerful politicians. Now it has been hit with a public censure and $250,000 fine by the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar for intentionally reporting and publishing false admissions data in six out of the last 10 years.
In addition to the penalties, the law school has been ordered to issue a public statement of correction to be distributed to all ABA-approved law schools. It must also hire a compliance monitor to report on its admissions process and data for the next two academic years. Finally, the school must up a variance that allowed it to conduct an early-admissions program — a blow in competing for top students. The result is that an effort to enhance standing in rankings like that of U.S. News and World Report has now resulted in the tarnishing of the school’s image and a reduction of its ability to compete with other schools. I expect that the school will ultimately bounce back however. It is part of a very strong academic institution in one of the top legal markets in the country. It also has a loyal alumni and strong faculty.
Notably, it was the school itself that launched the investigation after discovering the discrepancies. It blamed Paul Pless, the law school’s former assistant dean for admissions, for the false reporting.
These blows to the school are obviously the fault of the administration at the law school and do not reflect upon the faculty or students generally. University of Illinois remains an excellent school with a gifted faculty. Moreover, this is a problem that has appeared at other schools as pressure builds in the increasing competitive ranking and recruitment for law schools. However, the report insisted “No matter what the competitive pressures, law schools must not cheat. The College of Law cheated.”
Source: ABA Journal