Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Update on my Gonzaga piece on law schools, lying, and Enron.

After I published this piece, Robert K. Vischer, the dean of the University of St. Thomas Law School (Minnesota), gently suggested that I might want to clarify St. Thomas's restatement of its employment data: 
[Y]ou refer to St. Thomas Law School as having done “the right thing and ‘fessed up when it discovered that it had been misrepresenting its placement data.”  This is an important paper on an important topic, and I’m glad you’re tackling it head on.  I fear, though, that this line may lead readers to lump St. Thomas in with other law schools that have shown a pattern of deliberate misrepresentation.  Our oversight was a one-time occurrence that resulted from an erroneous entry of data.

Specifically, on line 169 of our Class of 2010 U.S. News Employment data report, the number of graduates known to be employed at graduation was correctly listed as 51 graduates (or 32.9% of our 155 total number of 2010 graduates). Unfortunately, on line 164 of the report, we incorrectly listed 125 graduates (or 80.6%) as employed at graduation.  U.S. News listed that incorrect number in its law school rankings.  We immediately contacted U.S. News to alert them to the error. The nine month graduation rate of 86.5% was correct in the rankings.

We did make a one-time mistake, and we paid the price by being unranked for a year.  I’m hoping to avoid leaving the impression that we are another example of law schools trying to fudge the truth over a period of years.
I'm happy to help Dean Vischer clarify his school's role.  There's a huge difference between making a mistake and engaging in a pattern of deception.

Monday, May 13, 2013

It's official--the new bankruptcy fee guidelines are rolling out on July 1.

Today's Wall Street Journal has a big article about the U.S. Trustee Program's new fee guidelines for lawyers in larger bankruptcy cases (here).  The rollout of the guidelines isn't a surprise.  The USTP published the proposed guidelines, received comments, revised the guidelines, received more comments, and then promulgated the final version (see here).  As the Wall Street Journal article points out, the next stage of promulgation will address the fees of the non-attorney professionals in the larger cases.

Lois Lupica and I, as part of our follow-up as Reporters for the ABI's National Ethics Task Force Final Report, will be publishing our Best Practices for Working With Fee Examiners in the next issue of the ABI Journal.  (Special thanks go to three people who gave us very helpful comments in our development of our "best practices":  Andy Vara, Robert Keach, and Brady Williamson.)  We think that our suggestions will be useful as people see an increased use of fee review committees and fee examiners.