American Bar Association / ABA, Biglaw, Law Schools, Small Law Firms, Venable

New York Law School Files Motion to Dismiss Suit Over Employment Data

In August, New York Law School was hit with a class action lawsuit over the school’s allegedly deceptive post-graduate employment data. The suit accused NYLS of fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and deceptive business practices. Now, two months later, NYLS is packing some Biglaw heat and moving to dismiss the complaint.

In a case of David v. Goliath, Jesse Strauss and David Anziska, the small-firm lawyers who brought the suit on behalf of the plaintiffs, are now up against the lawyers at Venable, whose motion to dismiss on behalf of NYLS was accompanied by a cutting 25-page memorandum of law.

But why is the NYLS brief so harsh? Because the school argues that the Gomez-Jimenez suit isn’t about the plaintiffs at all, but instead is part of a “crusade” against the American Bar Association….

New York Law School’s brief is available here. Michael Volpe — a Venable partner and 1990 graduate of NYLS — has taken the lead on the case. As an alumnus, Volpe might be a little biased, but he says that the school was merely following the ABA’s orders. Thomson Reuters News & Insight has more:

The school, which is located in lower Manhattan and has no affiliation with New York University School of Law, argued that it is in full compliance with American Bar Association procedures for reporting post-graduation employment data. If plaintiffs have a problem with that, the school argued in its motion, they should target the ABA.

“These attacks on the ABA rules are wholly insufficient to state claims for the three individual plaintiffs against NYLS,” the motion stated.

Hmph, and all this time we thought that NYLS was NYU’s TriBeCa satellite campus.

But given the circumstances here, the school’s “blame the ABA” defense seems like a pretty good one (and it’s no mistake that it’s repeated multiple times throughout the brief). It might seem unfortunate to some, but it looks like the plaintiffs are being used as scapegoats to attack their lawyers, Strauss and Anziska.

For example, here’s another NYLS take on the Strauss/Anziska movement:

Plaintiffs’ preoccupation with legislative proposals and the publication of NYLS employment data (pursuant to ABA requirements) reveals Plaintiffs’ motivations in this litigation — namely, changing ABA policy. None of this is relevant to the claims against NYLS.

This is why we can’t have nice things.

The rest of the NYLS brief penned by Volpe’s Venable visionaries certainly isn’t short on sarcasm, noting that “Plaintiffs’ mere recitation of the legal term ‘reliance’ is entirely inadequate to survive this motion to dismiss.” Have they been reading the Above the Law comments?

Venable brings down the hammer gavel on behalf of NYLS.

Later in the brief, after recounting the sob stories laid out in the complaint about the “lost generation,” the “Great Recession,” and the “grimmest job market[] in decades,” NYLS asserts that “Plaintiffs could not have reasonably relied on any data as a guarantee that they would secure a lucrative legal job.” Sounds like this class just got hosed.

And it was at that point that one could have easily lost track of the number of new ones that had been ripped for the plaintiffs.

NYLS has listed some of the other damning key points made in the school’s brief on its website:

  • Plaintiffs concede that post-graduation employment information published by NYLS complied with ABA and industry reporting standards.
  • The suit does not establish any causal link between information published by NYLS and any alleged harm. Indeed, two of the three named plaintiffs concede they work in law-related jobs, one in a “thriving law practice” and the other as “a legal and compliance officer at an investment management firm,” while the third is apparently employed in another field.
  • The plaintiffs’ allegations are not sufficient to support claims on behalf of themselves personally, let alone as a class action.
  • No specific facts are alleged. Instead, every allegation is made entirely on the basis of unsubstantiated “information and belief.”
  • Two of three plaintiffs already had graduated and the third had attended for two years when the allegedly misleading data was published, so none could have relied on that data to choose NYLS.

What kind of a message will the NYLS motion to dismiss send to the plaintiffs involved in the Cooley Law class action? And what about the prospective plaintiffs still being recruited for the 15 other class action suits that are in the works? The first thing that comes to mind is that they might want to head for the hills and retreat back into the depths of document review.

But all of this brings us back to the number one point made in the NYLS brief: if the ABA is responsible for this fubar’d situation, why are law schools being targeted, and not the ABA itself? Maybe Team Strauss/Anziska needs to refocus its efforts and give Senators Boxer, Grassley, and Coburn a call.

Gomez-Jimenez v. NYLS: Motion to Dismiss [New York County Supreme Court]
New York Law School fights class-action suit over job rates [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
New York Law School argues suit over data is meritless [National Law Journal]
New York Law School Files Motion to Dismiss Lawsuit [New York Law School News & Events]

Earlier: Cooley Law and NYLS Hit With Class Action Lawsuits

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