Law Schools Sued For Lying About Post-Grad Employment

If it isn’t clear for whom law schools exist, now it is clearer:

The saga began last year, when Strauss and Anziska, both veterans of corporate legal work, filed lawsuits against New York Law School and Thomas M. Cooley Law School, in Michigan. The allegation: That Cooley and NYLS, by allegedly inflating post-graduate employment numbers, had committed fraud and violated local consumer protection acts. . . . The job market for lawyers has been contracting for years; hiring is down across the board. At the same time, law schools have continued to crank out young lawyers at an alarming rate.

This is the legal version of the joke that people go to law school because they aren’t good at math. So far twelve schools have been sued. I look forward to learning how the teachers at those schools react. Which side will they take? .

More about the lawsuits. I blogged about the deception a year ago. The California Culinary Academy in San Francisco was successfully sued for similar deception a few years ago. Inside the Law School Scam, a blog.

15 Responses to “Law Schools Sued For Lying About Post-Grad Employment”

  1. JPB Says:

    As bad as the problem is with law schools, it is equally bad in other fields. Colleges and universities have been expanding at a breath taking pace. They NEED ever more warm, tuition- paying bodies! There is definitely a bubble here and eventually, there will be some really bad fall-out. Perhaps this suit will help focus attention on the problem!

  2. Bryan Says:

    Fascinating. I’m surprised my 4th tier school wasn’t one of the ones sued.

    BTW, the Law School Scam blog is absolutely correct about how law schools game their employment numbers. Just recently Chapman Law School went from a 4th to 2nd tier school. One of the reasons their rank increased was post-graduate employment. I had friends that went to Chapman and, although they were happy their school went up, they were cynical about the U.S. News ranking process. They said the school made a BIG push among alumni to get them to hire recent graduates, even if it was for part-time work. Also, the undergradate school hired a Nobel Prize winner (Vernon Smith) which also had a halo effect on the law school’s prestige.

    But the way law school lies to its students is even deeper than the employment numbers or star faculty. The bigger scandal is that law school — ostensibly a professional school — is NOTHING like the actual practice of law. The ABA accreditation standards ensure a specific model that hasn’t changed much in 100 years, discourages innovation, and does not adequately prepare students for the day-to-day practice of law. Law school trains appellate lawyers when the vast majority of students will become litigators or trasactional attorneys. And don’t even get me started on the waste of time that is the law review.

  3. wcb Says:

    @Bryan

    The civil action filed against Widener Law School this week is pending in the USDC, New Jersey, although the main campus of the school is located in Wilmington, Delaware. Of course, Widener recruits students from NJ and PA, as well as Delaware and other surrounding areas. The case, which seeks class action status, is based on the Delaware Deceptive Trade Practices law, Title 6, Sections 2531 et seq.

    As noted by Seth in his piece and in the provided links, the factual basis of the complaint is allegedly-inflated, post-graduate employment data used by the school as part of its recruitment program for new students. Counsel for the plaintiffs have filed a very interesting, 30-page complaint with allegations which, if proven, will obviously be very damaging for Widener, both reputationally as well as financially, since the suit apparently seeks to claw back student tuition costs, among other monetary claims.

    (As an aside, one factoid which seemed surprising to me is that the law school dean was recently being paid more that $300K per annum in total comp. This seems over the top for a lower-tier institution whose admission standards are alleged in the complaint to be comparatively low.)

    Here’s a link to the text of the complaint for those who may be interested.
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/80168175/Filed-Widener-Lawsuit-Without-Index-Number-2

  4. Nancy Lebovitz Says:

    It wouldn’t surprise me if law schools are at greater risk of being sued.

  5. Tom Says:

    This lawsuit is particularly exciting, because it’s just the leading edge of the wedge.

    The truth is that most higher education is a scam. If this case succeeds – and I think it has a good chance – it has the potential to set off the unraveling of the entire higher education cartel.

  6. Tom Says:

    By the way, AdSense is hilarious – I love how this page is filling up with ads for expensive for-profit universities. :-)

  7. Seth Roberts Says:

    Colleges and universities have been expanding at a breath taking pace. They NEED ever more warm, tuition- paying bodies! There is definitely a bubble here and eventually, there will be some really bad fall-out.

    Yeah. I find it curious that the two sectors of the economy that I criticize the most — health care and higher education — are also the two sectors of the economy with out-of-control cost increases, far outstripping inflation. My criticism has nothing to do with price, it is about quality of the product. The usual explanation of health-care cost increases is that it is hard to shop around (e.g., compare hospitals). But it is easy to shop around in the case of colleges. On the face of it the two products (health care and education) are quite different.

  8. garymar Says:

    Elite universities can take care of themselves. What we need is unstinting support for our community college system. This is the real backbone of higher education, where a lot of real education takes place.

  9. Sara Says:

    This certainly makes me feel better for ditching law in favour of Psychology and Nutrition. At least in these fields they make it clear that you’re doing it more for the love than the money… ;) Several of my classmates have law degrees and could not get the required practice hours.

  10. Sara Says:

    Interesting also about cost increases. It’s not just cost, but time taken to complete a qualification. Psychology is a very good example. You used to be able to practice with a bachelor degree and internship (this is NZ I’m talking about so it might be different in the US), now it is minimum masters degree plus postgraduate diploma. Minimum six years to be a Psych in general practice, seven or eight years for a Clinical Psych, 9 or 10 years if you do a PhD as well. Total student loan? Somewhere upward of $30,000 depending on scholarships. To register as a nutritionist used to take three years (undergrad. degree). You can still do it in three, but registration then takes five years. Or you do a postgrad diploma or masters plus two years to register. For every profession they are trying to keep us at university for longer AND they are sometimes not upfront about the requirements. In my third year of Psych. I learned that internship was no longer part of the masters degree and now takes the form of a postgrad ‘practicing diploma’ (or you can go and try and find an internship yourself, but they are hard to get).

  11. Alex Chernavsky Says:

    This post reminds me of a passage from an excellent book called, Travels with Lizbeth, by Lars Eighner:

    “The purpose of welfare systems is not to help poor people. If the object were to help poor people, then that would be most surely done by giving money to poor people. But that is not the idea, as our tax code proves. If you give twenty dollars to someone on the street, there is not a way in the world you can deduct that donation from your taxes. To claim a deducation you must give the money to an organization that employs clerks and administrators and social workers and that, more than likely, puts nothing material into the hands of the poor… When the agency makes an accounting of the good it has done the poor, it will count the money it spent on paying social workers to hold the hands of the poor the same as money, if any, spent on bread. The purpose of welfare systems is to provide jobs for social workers and bureaucrats. I told Billy he should be grateful to have a job in the poverty industry, but to ask that such a job be meaningful is to ask too much.”

  12. WCB Says:

    @ Alex
    Excellent quote. The same might be said for a number of high profile “charitable” 501c3 organizations that pay outrageous compensation to their executives.

  13. JPB Says:

    Seth: It is interesting that the 2 out-of-control industries (medicine and academia) either do not respond when asked the reasons for the high rates or they just say that there is no way to make any cuts! Of course, the “authorities” never offer to show the books…

  14. Jim Says:

    Another issue is that many law school graduates, while getting jobs, get those jobs outside of the legal industry. Some do this by choice, but many do so because they can’t get a job within the legal industry. The law schools spin this by stating that law school trains your mind, and that such training is good for any endeavor. But using a legal education as training for a career outside the law is an inefficient use of time and money at best, and a total waste of time and money at worst.

  15. C. Shoemakr Says:

    No education is worth 200,000 dollar debt plus lost wages for three years. If someone is willing to take this risk, with slim job prospects after graduation, it shows they can’t make good decisions and use critical thinking skills.