John Marshall Law School, Law School Deans, Law Schools, Trendspotting

Trendspotting: Will Law Schools Continue to Defend Questionable Employment Data?

It was just last week that Jesse Strauss and David Anziska announced that in addition to their class action suits against Cooley Law and New York School of Law, they intended to sue 15 more law schools over their allegedly deceptive post-graduate employment statistics. In the days that followed, everyone wanted to know when these lawsuits would actually be filed, what role the ABA might play in the suits, and whether the law schools targeted would preemptively change their ways.

We don’t yet have more information about the lawsuits to be filed. And we certainly don’t have so much as a statement from the ABA. (Come on, why would the ABA deign it necessary to comment on an important issue like this?)

But we do have some reactions from a few of the law schools on the Strauss/Anziska naughty list….

We wondered whether the law schools accused of gaming their numbers would own up to the discrepancies or stand by their career services staff like a bad country song.

Last week, law school deans began to email students and alumni with their reactions to the impending lawsuits. As you may have guessed, they plan to defend their questionable graduate employment data until the end.

For example, see this note from Dean John Corkery of Chicago’s John Marshall Law School:

You may have seen media reports that two law firms, neither located in Illinois, announced with great fanfare that they are targeting 15 law schools, including JMLS, Kent and DePaul in Chicago, as potential defendants in a class action law suit based on alleged misleading post-graduate employment data. No suit has been filed against us making it impossible to comment at this time. We are proud of the efforts of our Career Services staff, faculty and administration who work tirelessly to assist our students to obtain post-graduate employment and of our students who represent the Law School with distinction after they leave us. I will keep you posted on developments.

John Corkery
Dean
The John Marshall Law School

Similarly, according to an interview given with the Financial News & Daily Record, Florida Coastal School of Law is “prepared to vigorously defend [them]selves in court, if necessary,” and “will stand 100 percent behind the integrity of [their employment] statistics.”

But the best part of these reactions is that some deans have chosen to blame their school’s woes on the ABA’s faulty reporting requirements (which we touched on at the end of September). Here’s one such email from Dean Michael Simons of St. John’s University School of Law:

Dear Students,

Two lawyers yesterday announced their desire to file lawsuits against fifteen law schools, including several law schools in New York City, one of which is St. John’s. From their statements to press, it appears to be their desire that almost every law school in the nation be sued, and their main complaint appears to be with the way that the ABA instructs law schools to report employment data. We have not seen a pleading, and so we cannot comment on what may be in it. But we can say that we stand behind the work done by our Career Development Office to collect accurate employment data from our graduates. We report that data to the ABA in the format required by the ABA, the accrediting body for us and for all law schools. Indeed, demonstrating our commitment to transparency, we report much more detailed data than is required by the ABA on our website: http://www.stjohns.edu/academics/graduate/law/career/general/placement.stj. We hope that reforms proposed to the ABA will improve employment data at all law schools.

Sincerely,

Michael A. Simons
Dean and John V. Brennan Professor of Law & Ethics
St. John’s University School of Law

Dean Simons, while we applaud your playing of the blame game, you probably shouldn’t bite the hand that feeds you (and gives you the ability to publish what appear to be deceptive statistics). That hand might soon smack you down a peg or two.

So, readers, if your law school or alma mater was named as a potential defendant and the dean sent you an email about it, forward it to us. Given that these lawsuits haven’t actually been filed yet, do you think that these were the appropriate responses? Should the schools have reacted differently? Let us know what you think in the comments.

NY firms target law school job placement: Florida Coastal on list [Financial News & Daily Record]

Earlier: Fifteen More Law Schools to Be Hit with Class Action Lawsuits Over Post-Grad Employment Rates

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