The worst thing to do in a crisis is to allow it to drag on. And that’s what Villanova Law is doing.  The school recently admitted that it lied to the ABA about its admissions statistics. I postulated that the school may have inflated its LSAT or under-reported the number of students it enrolled each year. Apparently, the ABA is now saying that the school lied about its GPA and LSAT scores.

At any rate, Dean Gotanda sent around another email about the scandal, which was published on Above the Law:

Dear VLS Students:

On Friday, Feb. 4, I notified you by email of the issue that has arisen with respect to figures that have been reported to the American Bar Association. We shared this information with you as soon as possible, but due to the nature of our investigation, we could not make any announcements before last Friday. Once we were able to share this information, we made the decision to inform our entire community immediately, within the same two-hour time period. Thus, notification was made to the Board of Consultors, the faculty, the staff, the alumni, and students on Friday afternoon.

I am sure that you have many questions about the email. Under the circumstances, we were unable to provide more complete and detailed information in that first communication. I believe it is very important for you to understand this issue and its effect, and both the faculty and I want to give you as much information as possible as soon as we can. As such, I am working with the faculty and our administrative team to develop an orderly process for bringing you up to speed. We expect to begin this process Monday morning, and to continue it for the next several weeks. Please let me know if you have any thoughts about what would most helpful to you at this time.

Throughout these difficult two weeks, my foremost thought has been with you – our students – and your welfare. Please be assured that I will do everything I can to protect the reputation of our Law School and to ensure that you continue to receive an excellent legal education.

Sincerely,

John Y. Gotanda

Dean Gotanda gives up nothing. No names, no details. This email is nothing more than a tease–and a guarantee that the scandal will live to see another day.

The great thing–and one of the worst things–about Above the Law is the colorful commentors, who, on occasion, can provide a sliver of color on a situation amidst a sea of used-up commenter shticks repeating tired memes. User “Spyderman401” makes the following comment:

VLS student here. Members of the faculty and administration went around to a ton of classes today to fully explain the story to the student body.

What they said was that Dean Gotanda initiated an Academic Success Initiative or some such which required two faculty members to review previous years admissions data. In doing so, they realized that the actual median numbers were about 3 points lower than what had been reported to the ABA. The two professors informed Dean Gotanda, who in turn informed the ABA and hired Ropes & Gray to perform some kind of audit. A second national firm is in the process of being hired to conduct a full investigation to see if there are any other skeletons in the closet, they expect to finalize a deal this week.

The net result is that one dean and one member of admissions were fired for misreporting LSAT numbers and occasionally GPAs for incoming classes dating back at least five years. Incidentally, the Class of 2013’s numbers are accurate (or say they claim) with a median LSAT score of 160. There was an admission that the system was totally flawed in that three individuals could fudge numbers without any oversight from the rest of the administration or faculty. The admissions/reporting system has been revamped and reconstituted to avoid for such things in the future.

The faculty and adminstration has been really good about this whole situation, especially considering the student body is ripshit enough to make Cairo look like Discovery Zone right now. Apparently there is no possibility of probation or loss of accreditation, but you’d have to imagine that this is a rotten year for the ABA to come calling for it’s site visit which will happen in April. Given the student response and what the administration is telling the students, I expect there will be more from Dean Gotanda in the days to come.

Pretty damning, assuming this anonymous commenter is telling the truth. Villanova Law misreported their admissions stats for at least five years! The obvious motive–and reason behind virtually every decision made by law school administrations across America–was to increase their U.S. News ranking.  GPA and LSAT scores for the incoming class of 1Ls account for a whopping 22.5% of the score that ultimately determines a law school’s rank.

Even a tiny improvement in a school’s score can have a dramatic effect on a school’s ranking. Villanova Law currently ranks 67th–along with four other schools. If its score dropped two points, its ranking would drop to 78th. And when a law school’s ranking drops, deans go bye-bye either by will or by force. And deans aren’t the only ones: good professors leave for better schools and good students pass up the school for more highly ranked schools.

I’m surprised that the school is sharing these details with their students, but not with us. The delay will ultimately mean that this crisis will hit the news cycle at least one more time.

In the mean time, students applying to Villanova Law (and any other law school, for that matter) right now should ask themselves this question: if this school was willing to lie to the ABA about their GPA and LSAT scores, what are they willing to lie to you about? After all, the ABA accredits them, but your student loans keep the lights on, keep books on the shelves, and keep professors’ toes toasty in the winter as they avoid you in lieu of office hours.

What will they lie to you about?

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One Response to Drip, drip, drip: Villanova Law offers another cryptic email with no answers

  1. cas127 says:

    Question: What would they lie to you about?

    Answer: Everything.

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