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Illinois Law Blames 6 Years of False Data on Asst. Dean

By Cynthia Hsu, Esq. on November 09, 2011 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Ethics. It's a law school course. It's even an exam that's a prerequisite to getting licensed by most state bars. Why are lawyers so inundated with ethics? Maybe it's because sometimes lawyers - and law schools - walk a fine line.

It's not necessarily "sleazy." But sometimes a lawyer's behavior can be described as "questionable."

So here's some questionable behavior brought to you by the University of Illinois: their law school reported inaccurate LSAT and GPA data for the last 6 out of 10 years.

Oh, don't worry. The school is not exactly taking the blame for the inaccurate data. They're pointing the finger at Paul Pless, the recently-resigned former assistant dean of admissions and financial aid.

Pless is alleged to have altered admissions data to show inaccurate LSAT and GPA data. The acceptance rate was also reportedly altered.

And no, this wasn't a simple case of "lawyers can't do math." The investigation ruled out the possibility that all of this was some fluke accident. The conclusion was that Pless "knowingly and intentionally" miscalculated the data.

Why exactly would he do this? What benefit could Mr. Pless, himself, derive from doctored stats?

Well, incidents like this aren't exactly rare. Villanova was sanctioned for similar reasons earlier this year.

Most law students and attorneys remember what it was like to apply for law school. About 90% of students approach the entire process with the U.S. News rankings tucked under their arm. The better law schools were the ones with the higher GPA and LSAT averages and lower acceptance rates. Prestige is the name of the game.

That's probably why Pless altered the data. And who's to say how many doe-eyed aspiring lawyers decided to attend the University of Illinois' based on its admissions data? Um yeah. Bets are that most of them did.

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