Please Don't Lie
Yes, I've been away from the blog for a while, and my plans for a fall P.S. Boot Camp II got waylaid in light of recruitment travel, flexapp issues, and life in general. Usually, when I come back on the blog after the summer I try to write some cleverly-titled post that offers some humor to kick off the admissions season. And as you know, I do troll through discussion boards to see what you guys are wondering about so I can be responsive. I was therefore disappointed to find, in my first troll through the online discussions, that some people are discussing whether or not to lie on their Yale Law School applications. So, although I have written about this before, let me be blunt:
People who lie make me angry. And you won't like me when I'm angry.
Specifically, some students are discussing whether or not to lie on the question on our application that asks whether or not you have taken a test preparation course. I explained our rationale for this question (and the one asking about any assistance you received in preparing your application), but it appears that some students believe that by saying they didn't take a course, when in fact they did, they will somehow gain an advantage in our admissions process.
Leaving aside whether or not this is true, let's just cut to the chase. Lying on an application -- ANY application (job, law school, government forms, etc.) -- is REALLY STUPID. Once you sign your name to anything which you certify to be true, when you know that it isn't, you have pretty much committed yourself to living under a sword of Damocles for the rest of your life. That's because, even if the underlying "lie" is very minor, and may not have been material to anything to begin with, the act of deliberately falsifying a document with the intention to mislead the recipient is a huge blemish on your character, and if your lie is ever discovered, you are basically screwed. Why? Well, obviously, providing false information is lying. And giving false information in order to gain an unfair advantage is cheating. And if you obtain a seat at Yale by lying and cheating...that's stealing. Your 179 LSAT is not going to be so impressive if we discover that you are a liar, a cheat, and a thief. And stupid.
You may be wondering how we would ever know. I'll be honest, unless my spidey senses go up when reading an application, I generally don't go around digging for dirt on people. But my friends, you would be shocked at the amount of random information that comes flowing into our office about various applicants, from sources other than themselves. There's more information than you realize about you out there...particularly if you've, you know, been out in public and interacted with people, for example in a law school test preparation class. Anyway, if and when it's appropriate, we do cross-check information we discover with the information provided on the student's application. In 98% of the cases, the information checks out. In the 2% that don't...well, those people get pulled from our pipeline and receive a ding letter. Pretty simple.
That's, of course, if we're being nice. Yale, like every other law school, has the option to report any instances of applicant miconduct -- which includes providing inaccurate or miselading information on your application -- to LSAC's Misconduct Committee. The Misconduct Committee's investigation is limited to only an objective finding of whether the alleged misconduct occurred; in other words, your subjective intent -- whether your error/omission was intentional -- is not a part of the inquiry. If there is a finding of misconduct, a copy of the investigative report and the Committee's findings are permanently attached to your LSDAS report and sent to every other law school to which you have applied or will apply to. For the rest of your life.
The information you provide in your application also follows you into law school. So, for example, a discovery in your third year that you lied on your application can be grounds for disciplinary action in your law school, not certifying you for the bar, and even revoking your admission at that time. And finally, even if you skate through law school and the bar undetected, when you are sitting for your polygraph to get your Top Secret clearance to become the Special Assistant to the Director of Homeland Security or whatever, and your polygrapher asks, "Have you ever lied on an application?" (this is the one of the more specific follow-ups to the initial "Have you ever lied?" question for the polygraph), you'll ping.
Which only brings home how dumb it is to lie on your application, especially about something like taking a test preparation course. I mean, lying is bad no matter how you do it, but someone who, say, forges an entire LSDAS report is dumb in a "Holy crap I can't believe he tried to get away with that!" kind of way. A person who lies about taking a test prep course is dumb in a terrorist who tried to get back his Ryder truck deposit after blowing it up kind of way. There's stupid, and then there's stupid.
Anyway, it's your choice. I'll be back with some condensed Personal Statement tips, as well as a new series that will be exploring our employment numbers in details. And I'll be starting to read apps this week!
UPDATE: As a follow-up to this post and an example of how anything you put down on paper could be verfied years (and decades) later, here is a current story from the Yale Daily News.