Saturday, December 22, 2012

Law School Marketing and Legal Ethics by Ben Trachtenberg :: SSRN

Law professors prepare students for a world in which the teacher has not succeeded.  The principal qualification of most law professors is to have been a good student.  Others - I include myself - had some impact in the practice of law.  My teaching and writing grows from that.  But neither credential represents success in the world our students will be entering.  I began my career with a debt of $1,500 (my parents paid for college, my Peace Corps termination pay paid for grad school, and law school at Rutgers was practically free), Then I entered a world of trade unions and community organizations in the days before cable TV, before the internet, before PC's or even fax machines.  
A community-based law practice was a practical, even obvious route for a man without a plan. So I achieved self-sufficiency quickly while self-employed in a world so different that it leaves me unsure how to advise students who will enter a world of virtual communication, where unions scarcely exist, and promotional messages are tweeted rather than mailed, where people text rather than call, and personal injury, workers comp, SSD, house closings, and advice to community groups and small businesses are not likely to enable one to service a start-up debt of $125,00.

In these circumstances it is important to the students, and the profession, that law schools be scrupulous in reporting their graduates post-graduate paths.  In this heated debate about the economics of legal education there are careful commentators like Brian Tamanaha in Failing Law Schools, and intemperate voices like Paul Campos at Inside the Law School Scam.  By what standard should the professoriate be judged?  By that of  lawyers' rules of professional conduct governing attorney advertising, says Ben Trachtenberg, a professor at the University of Missouri law school.  Sounds right to me.  - GWC   h/t Steven Gillers at Legal Ethics Forum
Law School Marketing and Legal Ethics by Ben Trachtenberg :: SSRN:
Law schools have misled prospective students for years about the value of legal education. In some cases, law school officials have engaged in outright deceit, knowingly spreading false information about their schools. More commonly, they have presented statistics—especially those concerning the employment outcomes of law graduates—in ways nearly guaranteed to confuse readers. These deceptions and sharp practices violate the norms of the legal profession, a profession that scrupulously regulates the advertising of legal services. The deceptions also violate ethical rules prohibiting lawyers from engaging in dishonesty, misrepresentation, and deceit.
This article exposes how pitches aimed at prospective students, including the seemingly straightforward recitation of statistics on law school websites, still paint an unduly rosy picture of the legal employment market. Focusing on Rule 8.4(c) of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, the article explains that law school officials have exposed themselves to professional discipline, which may offer a solution to the pervasive problem of misleading law school marketing.

 'via Blog this'


  1. George, thanks. (Actually it was Steve Gillers who posted that one.)