Today the American Bar Association announced imposition of sanctions on the University of Illinois College of Law. The U of I was found to have intentionally provided false LSAT and GPA data to the ABA and improperly obtained a waiver from the ABA rule requiring use of the LSAT (or similar test).
The sanctions include:
(1) public censure;
(2) the requirement that the College of Law issue, in a form approved by the Council, a public statement of correction to be distributed to all ABA‐approved law schools;
(3) the direction that the College of Law engage and pay a compliance monitor to report to the Accreditation Committee on its admissions process and data for the 2012‐2013 and 2013‐2014 academic years;
(4) the imposition of a $250,000 monetary sanction on the College of Law that will be placed in a separate, designated fund and used by the Section for monitoring and enhancing compliance with the data reporting and publication requirements of the Standards by all ABA‐ approved law schools; and
(5) the termination of the variance of Standard 503, granted to the College of Law by the Council in June 2009 with respect to the Illinois Law Early Action Program (iLEAP).
Interestingly, the grounds boiled down to lack of institutional control. Sound familiar?
These misbehaviors occurred in the context of the College of Law’s 2006 Strategic Plan, which set a course for the school to reclaim a top‐20 national ranking. It established goals of, within five years, enrolling a class with a median LSAT of 168 and a median GPA of 3.7....
The College of Law attributed the misreporting solely to its then assistant dean of admissions and financial aid. This individual, a 2003 graduate of the College of Law, was hired as Assistant Director for Admissions and Financial Aid in 2003 and was promoted to Director of Admissions and Financial Aid in 2004. His success in recruiting highly credentialed classes earned him praise from the College of Law’s leadership and a series of pay raises that more than doubled his salary by 2011. The facts show that the College of Law did not adequately appreciate the connection between (a) establishing aggressive goals, placing authority for admissions decisions in a single individual who stood to gain personally and professionally from meeting or exceeding the established goals, and the lack of oversight of data reporting; and (b) the ultimate publication and reporting of false data. The College of Law lacked effective internal controls and oversight to prevent, deter and detect inadvertent or intentional manipulation of admissions data.
The censure letter is here. And if you're wondering whether the ABA considered that it had not dropped a hammer in prior cases...well, yes, it did.
While the College of Law may find it convenient to point to apparent similarities to other cases decided by the Council, each school appearing before the Council is considered4 according to its own unique set of facts and circumstances. The imposition of a monetary sanction is merited by the facts of this case.