Here’s a little rule I just made up: People who do poorly in legal writing at New York Law School should not file pro se complaints against their school. It’s a good rule for people who don’t want to embarrass themselves.
I think I’ll call my brand-new maxim the “Timothy Keefe Rule.” The kid deserves something after getting smacked around by a New York appellate court. Here’s the set up, from the First Department opinion in Keefe v. New York Law School:
Plaintiff, a transfer student at defendant law school, commenced this action alleging, inter alia, that defendant breached an implied contract of good faith and fair dealing with him as a result of a grade he received in his Legal Writing II course. Claiming that he was unfairly disadvantaged because he did not take Legal Writing I at the law school, plaintiff seeks to require the law school to change its grading system from letter grades to pass/fail.
Keefe’s suit was dismissed at the Supreme Court level, and the dismissal was affirmed by the Appellate Division. I sure do hope he tries one more time at the Court of Appeals, because this is the kind of terrible argument I can’t get enough of …
The opinion doesn’t tell us what letter grade Keefe received in Legal Writing II. Even though the court doesn’t force NYLS to give him a pass/fail grade, I feel the court gives Keefe a taste of what an Epic Fail grade looks like on his Google footprint:
The court properly dismissed the complaint as there is no indication that defendant ever promised that it would utilize a pass/fail grading system. In fact, the remedy plaintiff seeks is contradicted by the documentary evidence, as defendant communicated through its student handbook that it utilizes a letter grading system under which all students are evaluated. Accordingly, plaintiff’s breach of implied contract claim fails, as does his claim for breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
Mmm … teachable moment.
As an added treat, the court points out Keefe’s own laziness:
Plaintiff contends that he was unfairly disadvantaged and that his grade was arbitrary and capricious, as all assignments given in Legal Writing II were based on the law and the facts from assignments given in Legal Writing I. This argument is belied by the record, which includes an email from defendant’s Office of Academic Affairs informing plaintiff that his Legal Writing section had been changed, and that he should contact the Administrative Assistant of Legal Writing, who would provide him with the materials needed to bring him “up to speed” for the spring term. There is no evidence that plaintiff availed himself of this opportunity.
I know one place that Keefe won’t be getting a job: Nixon Peabody. The firm defended NYLS in this matter, with Daniel Rizzi taking the lead. Given the match-up between a seasoned partner from Georgetown and a pro se litigant from NYLS, this lawsuit was probably over before it was filed.
I just hope NYLS offers Legal Writing III. It seems like Keefe needs a little more book learning before he turns pro.
Keefe v New York Law School [Appellate Division, First Department]