Law School Marketing and Legal Ethics

60 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2012 Last revised: 25 Jun 2013

See all articles by Ben Trachtenberg

Ben Trachtenberg

University of Missouri School of Law


Law schools have misled prospective students for years about the value of legal education. In some cases, law school officials have engaged in outright deceit, knowingly spreading false information about their schools. More commonly, they have presented statistics — especially those concerning the employment outcomes of law graduates — in ways nearly guaranteed to confuse readers. These deceptions and sharp practices violate the norms of the legal profession, a profession that scrupulously regulates the advertising of legal services. The deceptions also violate ethical rules prohibiting lawyers from engaging in dishonesty, misrepresentation, and deceit.

This article exposes how pitches aimed at prospective students, including the seemingly straightforward recitation of statistics on law school websites, still paint an unduly rosy picture of the legal employment market. Focusing on Rule 8.4(c) of the Model Rules of Professional Conduct, the article explains that law school officials have exposed themselves to professional discipline, which may offer a solution to the pervasive problem of misleading law school marketing.

Keywords: Law school marketing, NALP, AALS, ABA, U.S. News, advertising, Rule 8.4(c), Rule 8.3, Association of American Law Schools, American Bar Association, National Association for Law Placement, accreditation, salaries, scholarships, IBR, income-based repayment, employment, employment statistics

Suggested Citation

Trachtenberg, Ben, Law School Marketing and Legal Ethics. 91 Nebraska Law Review 866 (2013), University of Missouri School of Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2012-41, Available at SSRN:

Ben Trachtenberg (Contact Author)

University of Missouri School of Law ( email )

Missouri Avenue & Conley Avenue
Columbia, MO MO 65211
United States

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