Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Fellowship or Fraud?

"Securities fraud, also known as stock fraud and investment fraud, is a practice that induces investors to make purchase or sale decisions on the basis of false information, frequently resulting in losses [...]"
- Wikipedia (take it for whatever it's worth).

The University of Denver recently sent the following email out to all its graduating law students.

Dear 3L and 4LE Students,

To assist May 2011 graduates who have not found employment, the University of Denver Sturm College of Law is pleased to announce the Class of 2011 Faculty Fellows Program. This program offers eligible members of the Class of 2011 the opportunity to work as Research Fellows for SCOL faculty members, providing them with substantive assistance in their scholarly and professional work. We are excited about this new program and believe it is a win-win for faculty and graduating students. Fellows will be paid at the normal RA rate of $9 per hour for part time work that could go until April of 2012 depending on the circumstances. I’ve attached a general student application to be returned to me via hand delivery or email (e-Signatures are acceptable). This general application determines your eligibility for the program and is required in addition to any specific application requirements from the participating faculty members.

The main eligibility requirements are listed below and a full set of eligibility requirements is available upon request.

· All offers for employment as a Faculty Fellow must be made prior to May 21, 2011.

· May 2011 graduates who are currently working as research assistants for SCOL faculty are eligible to continue in their positions after graduation through June 24, 2011 (one month before the bar exam). May 2011 graduates who are not currently working as research assistants for SCOL faculty may apply for a Fellowship and will be eligible for consideration if they affirm in writing that they are not employed in any capacity (legal, non- legal, full time or part time) and have no offer of employment. All Fellows will be given time off to study for the bar exam from June 25, 2011 through completion of the exam. Fellows will be eligible to return to their positions on or about August 1, 2011 only if they affirm in writing that they are not employed in any capacity (legal, non-legal, full time or part time) and have no offer of future employment.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.


Regards,

Assistant Dean for Career Opportunities

I sent the Assistant Dean an email inquiring about what effect this program might have on employment statistics and how, specifically, the law school plans on reporting the number of grads that are employed for $9 an hour to future applicants. So far he's only been able to say that he's "working"on a response for me.

Here's how I see it, this program has the possibility to substantially inflate the "employed at graduation" statistic reported in US News. That's a statistic I paid close attention to when I was applying to law school. I decided to invest $150,000 in a legal education based (in part) on the number of graduates who actually had a job when they graduated. I figured, if most of them have jobs, I stand a good chance of being employed as well. And, hence, I'll have a good chance at paying back the loans I'm taking on.

Next year's students could potentially be making a $150,000 investment decision based on inflated data. Sounds like a pretty close cousin to fraud to me. Given all the negative press law schools and their statistics have been getting these days, this program seems irresponsible at best.

Further reading:

3 comments:

  1. It's a moral dilemma, isn't it?

    On one hand, you want a job. On the other, you want no part of their bogus "statistics" and if you work for them, you're sure as hell going to be counted as "employed."

    If I'm offered something like this, I might take it and then spend the entire year deliberately screwing up everything I can (will they fire me, or keep me on so I an be "employed" at 9 months?), but I'm probably more sadistic than most.

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