08 May 2012

How To Succeed In Law School Without Really Trying

You have all heard of, if not consumed, the city's most famous export.

However, unless you are from that city or its country (or the nations near it), you probably haven't heard of one of its biggest scandals in recent years.

All of the world drinks Pilsner beer.  The original, and most famous, version of it is Pilsner Urquell, which is still brewed in the city from which the beer takes its name:  Plzen, in Bohemia (Czech Republic).

The city also has a law school--at least until October.  Now that I've mentioned it, you probably know where this post is going.

Local residents sometimes joke, "I have nothing to do this weekend. I think I'll get a law degree."  Turns out, they weren't exaggerating by as much as one might expect.  

While there has been cheating and other wrongdoing at the law school (Really? I'm shocked!) of the University of West Bohemia for as long as anybody can remember, the scandals that will likely result in the closure of the school first came to light three years ago.  Then, a student complained to Professor Petr Bezouska that he found passages in vice-dean Ivan Tomazic's thesis that had been copied from another legal text.  That same student then accused Jaroslav Zacharias, the dean of the faculty, of plagiarism.

Once those accusations were made public, Milan Kindl, another vice-dean, said that his colleague's work was indeed fraudulent, but had been planted in a library in order to root out an informer who had been leaking information about the faculty to the press. Kindl than accused Bezouska, the professor to whom the student complained, of being a snitch.

Kindl, Tomazic and Zacharias all resigned within a few days of the scandal breaking.  The Minister of Justice, Jiri Popisil, launched an investigation that revealed, among other things, a student who got a law degree in two months instead of the normal five years.  

In the subsequent months, dissertations mysteriously disappeared from the school's library.  Or, perhaps, they were never there in the first place.  When asked, some politicians who got degrees from the school couldn't present their dissertations.   Ivana Rapkova, the mayor of Chomutov, developed a case of amnesia--about her days at the law school.  She couldn't remember any of her professor's names.  

It could be argued that politicians like Rapkova have even more power to move government-related interests--and get jobs for friends, family members and such--than their American counterparts have.  They can even make it possible for said friends and family members to get degrees from places like the University of West Bohemia School of Law.

The Czech Accreditation Commission recently came to the conclusion that the School of Law had not sufficiently reformed itself.  As a result, the Commission decided that the School's accreditation won't be extended past this October. 

Vladimira Dvorakova, the chair of the Committee, said she expects the dean and rector of the faculty to contact the other three law schools in the Czech Republic about taking in the students from Plzen, who currently number around 2000. 


  1. Could you imagine the morally bankrupt organization known as the American Bar Association taking such action?! Hell, they would likely call such conduct "smart business practices."

  2. You're right, Nando. The ABA would probably applaud. And the law school deans would laugh all the way to the bank.