Villanova Law School Paying A Price Despite Doing Right
Sometimes, unfortunately, the nice guy does indeed finish last. The phrase is a bit hyperbolic. Still, the premise rings true often. In this case, the nice law school still finishes near last. Specifically, Villanova University School of Law, despite trying to right the wrongs of a previous administration, is still paying for the transgressions of their predecessors.
In 2009, Villanova Law’s Dean, Mark Sargent left the school when it was revealed that he was involved in a prostitution ring. The majority of the administration also left. When the new administration moved in, they realized discrepancies in actual LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs of its students and the numbers that were reported to U.S. News for its annual rankings.
The new dean, John Gotanda, immediately hired Boston-based law firm, Ropes & Gray, to conduct a thorough investigation. Once the investigation was complete, Gotanda disclosed the entire report. As the Philadelphia Inquirer bluntly put it, “Villanova, in short, did everything right.”
Understandably, the school’s rankings took a hit, for multiple reasons. First, they were reporting their actual LSAT scores and GPAs, which were lower than previously reported. Second, U.S. News puts a ridiculous amount of weight on reputation of schools from other law school administrations. Simply put, if other schools don’t like you or think less of your school, you’re going to be categorically hurt in the rankings.
Gotanda and team have done a lot to bring the rankings back to where they once were. Thanks to a wealthy (and generous) alumni base, about 20% of Villanova Law students are earning their degrees for free. The school is known in Philadelphia as producing some of the top graduates entering Big Law in the city. In fact, top graduates often earn $160,000 out of the gates at Philadelphia’s top law firms.
Yet when the 2016 U.S. News rankings came out, the school was ranked 87th—20 places lower than before the scandal broke. Gotanda remains optimistic. “We have been slowly building back up,” he told the Philadelphia Inquirer.
But for now, the new administration will continue to try to dig itself out of the rankings hole that was dug by an administration they have almost no connection to.
Source: Philadelphia Inquirer
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