Friday, April 26, 2013

Traitor Activity Alert: Nancy Rapoport, UNLV Thankfully Blames US News

Nancy Rapoport, Interim (there's still time!) Dean of the Prestigious William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas* has written a law review essay that you should read carefully since she is a known traitor. Called Managing U.S. News & World Report - The Enron Way, I thought for sure it would be an excellent, head-nodding example of blame-shifting and placing everything on Saint Morse's shoulders. It sort-of gets there, but there's enough ambiguous finger-wagging for me to be displeased.

Well, for starters, she exposes what she believes to be the inner workings of a law deans' mind using language that would make a sophomore psychology major blush:

Cognitive dissonance (the subconscious rationalization of two competing moral views) is easy to spot in fudging the rankings. Someone who thinks of herself as honest and who still, say, plays with her school’s placement figures to make them look better than they really are is subconsciously justifying her “creativity” by deciding that U.S. News’s questions are so bogus that she shouldn’t have to take them seriously. If she’s not sure that her answers are accurate, she can always assume that someone else will catch her mistake (diffusion of authority). She can reason that, because other schools are hiding their bad placement numbers by hiring their own graduates, her school should do the same (social pressure). When schools let the U.S. News rankings drive their own admissions decisions (e.g., preferring LSATs over work experience or “striving”) or scholarship awards (buying higher LSATs with full rides plus stipends)—or when schools set the size of their entering classes and transfers solely to keep their LSATs and UGPAs high—those decisions are all perfect examples of anchoring bias (letting the rankings drive all other decisions).

First, since she is a dean, the inner workings of a deans mind are PRIVILEGED and she should not be stating them publicly.

Second, I despise the idea of making what our best deans do so science-like. What the Valvoline Dean does is an art. When Cooley publishes its own convoluted law school rankings and Don Deluc goes on the warpath against everyone from scambloggers to the Michigan Bar, that's creativity, not some hack output of a psychological theory. It's like she's trying to lesson the greatness of these endeavors. If Rapoport can't even appreciate the artfulness of the scammiest actors, how will she appreciate it when they manage to dodge reform effort after reform effort? Chalk it up to more pop psychology? (Survival mechanism? 3rd stage of grief?).

But that pales in comparison to this poopwork:

“Rankings management” just reminds me too much of the “earnings management” that I followed when I devoured every news article out there about the Enron scandal.

Enron, good gravy! Enron broke securities laws. Guess what? Law schools don't even have to follow those! Analogy bad, argument over.

But the article does have a good point, despite her not wanting to play ball completely: it's all US News' Fault. If only US News would change its rankings formula, law deans would be systematically rewarded for doing the right things and they surely wouldn't increase tuition to take any of that sweet, sweet student loan crude or present themselves dishonestly to attract superior students.

Of course not. So at least Nancy did something right by blame-shifting. Because in the end, that's the message you SHOULD take away from her article, that there is absolutely nothing the law schools can do until a third-party third-rate magazine gets its act together. Our hands are tied. Blame Bob Morse. 

Sounds good to me!

*That's the only law school in the only state with legalized prostitution. If you want to specialize in Civil Hooker Law, get on the bus now!

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