Law Schools Fudging Employment Stats? Deal With It, Judge Says
It's no secret that new lawyers are having a tough time finding jobs. After spending six figures on their educations, some of them have been forced into new careers or even part-time jobs. But others have taken a different approach: They're suing law schools, charging that the schools cooked their employment numbers.
On Wednesday, the first of these class action suits to reach the courts was thrown out. The plaintiffs -- nine New York Law School grads -- had sued NYLS, seeking $225 million in damages. The Wall Street Journal reports them as claiming that they overpaid for their degrees because they were led to believe that more than 90 percent of NYLS grads got full-time jobs as lawyers.
In a blistering opinion, New York Supreme Court Justice Melvin Schweitzer ruled that their case was flimsy.
"In this court's view, the issues posed by this case exemplify the adage that not every ailment afflicting society may be redressed by a lawsuit," it read. "The court does not view these post-graduate employment statistics to be misleading in a material way for a reasonable acting consumer acting reasonably.... It is also difficult for the court to conceive that somehow lost on these plaintiffs is the fact that a goodly number of law school graduates toil (perhaps part-time) in drudgery or have less than hugely successful careers."
The NYLS ruling might cast a pall on more than a dozen other lawsuits filed by aggrieved law grads, according to the legal blog, Above the Law.
Even so, the rosy employment statistics historically provided by law schools have been widely attacked as misleading. And law schools have felt the effects. For the second consecutive year, the number of administered Law School Admissions Tests dropped by more than 15 percent. (The LSAT was given 129,925 times in the 2011-12 academic year. The year before saw 155,050, which followed a record high of 171,514 the year before that.)
The lawyer for the nine NYLS grads told the Journal that he expects to appeal.
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Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.
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