Are Law Schools Scamming their Students?

by Nathan Harden

I tackle the question in my column this week:

Law schools know that to enhance their institutional reputations, they need to attract the best possible students — the ones with the highest GPAs and LSAT scores. So they offer huge scholarships — worth tens of thousands of dollars per year — in order to attract students that might otherwise choose higher ranked institutions.

But there’s a catch. These scholarships are usually contingent upon maintaining a specified grade point average. If students fail to make the necessary grades, they lose their scholarships permanently.

At first glance, these required grade point averages look reasonable and attainable. But since first year law courses are traditionally graded on a curve, the law schools know ahead of time that a large number of students are, mathematically speaking, all but guaranteed to lose their scholarships after the first year.

Not surprisingly, law schools never seem to mention how grading on a curve will allow them to automatically disqualify a significant percentage of those awards when they send out scholarship letters to would-be students…