Irony: Law School Grads Suing Law Schools

Thursday, October 6, AD 2011

As faithful readers know, I have long sent out warnings to the unwary about the pitfalls of going to law school.  Read previous posts on the subject here, here , here here and here.

Dissatisfied law students are now suing their law schools.  Such law suits have always existed, usually filed by some desperate unemployed attorney with crushing debt, and such litigation has gotten no place.  Now this type of litigation has been taken up quite a few notches:

Two law firms, Law Offices of David Anziska and Strauss Law PLLC, have announced their intention to jointly file class action lawsuits against 15 more U.S. law schools (full press release below). The law schools are located in seven states:

  • California: California Western School of Law, Southwestern Law School, and University of San Francisco School of Law (3)
  • Florida: Florida Coastal School of Law (1)
  • Illinois: Chicago-Kent College of Law, DePaul University School of Law, and John Marshall School of Law (3)
  • Maryland: University of Baltimore School of Law (1)
  • New York: Albany Law School, Brooklyn Law School, Hofstra Law School, Pace University School of Law, and St. John’s University School of Law (5)
  • Pennsylvania: Villanova University School of Law and Widener University School of Law (also has a campus in Delaware) (2)

These complaints will follow previous complaints filed against New York Law School, Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Michigan, and Thomas Jefferson School of Law in California.

With these lawsuits, nearly 10% of all ABA-approved law schools across eight states will be accused of tortiously misrepresenting job placement statistics and violating state consumer protection laws. As with the previous complaints, the relief sought will include tuition reimbursement, punitive damages, and injunctive relief such as mandatory auditing of employment data and cessation of false advertising tactics.

Go here to read the rest at Law School Transparency.

A year ago I would not have given such litigation much of a chance.  However, now we are seeing examples of deliberate misrepresentation by law schools, including  at my alma mater, the University of Illinois College of Law:

Update on Student Profile Data

On September 19, 2011, the College of Law reported accurate, verified student profile (median LSAT and median GPA) for the class of 2014.  Ten years of profiles have been rigorously reviewed, and the inquiry has now determined that student profile data for the classes of 2011, 2012, and 2013 were also inaccurate.  Updated numbers are posted here.

A column at the blog Above the Law states the obvious about this scandal:

Here’s the thing. Do you guys really think that the only people who are doing this are Illinois and Villanova? Do you really think that the ABA — an organization that won’t force law schools to be accurate about graduate outcomes — has the stomach to find the truth about incoming classes?

Do you think that law schools that have become so comfortable playing fast and loose with the numbers even recognize that it is wrong to misstate statistics?

I don’t know, pile on Illinois if you want to. But the ABA is an organization that isn’t committed to making schools tell the truth, so I think the intelligent assumption is that all law schools are lying or inflating their statistics in some way.

The class action law suits are going to allow the Plaintiffs’ law firms to go over such statistics of law schools with the legal equivalent of a fine tooth comb.  I will be shocked if they do not find widespread “fudging” of admission statistics and statistics related to job placement and graduate salary.  This should all get very interesting very quickly.