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Quote of the Day: More Like Week-Old Muffins?

People going to bottom-tier law schools ought to know that they won’t go like hot cakes on the job market. But that doesn’t mean you’re allowed to exploit their vulnerability.

Mark Gergen, a law professor at Boalt Hall (UC Berkeley), commenting on the lawsuits filed against law schools over allegedly misleading employment data.

(That’s just one professor’s opinion. What do other experts think?)

Thomson Reuters News & Insight surveyed several law professors on the merits of the law school lawsuits. Professor Brian Leiter of the University of Chicago Law School, an expert on legal academia and education, doesn’t think much of them:

“I have a feeling a lot of the lawsuits will not get very far, especially if the schools can show they were complying with the rules,” said [Professor Leiter], who runs a popular blog on legal education. “Plaintiffs would probably have to show they simply would not have gone to law school at all, since all schools [followed] the same standard.”

It also seems “extremely unlikely” that courts will grant class certification, which has been requested by all the plaintiffs, Leiter added. This is because individual questions are likely to predominate over common ones, he said.

See also comments from Dean David A. Logan of Roger Williams Law:

[Dean Logan] said he is skeptical about the merits of the lawsuits. The schools’ graduate job placement data may be “opaque” he said, but still in compliance with industry standards. (Roger Williams University School of Law is not among the law schools facing lawsuits by graduates.)

Watch out, Dean Logan. The plaintiffs’ lawyers aren’t done yet.

Not all the surveyed professors were so negative about the cases:

Whether claims against law schools stand up in court depends on the how strong consumer protection laws are in each state, said Douglas Rush, a professor at Saint Louis University who specializes in legal education.

An explanation of how law schools have defined “employed” is available from NALP or the ABA , and in some states the burden is on the consumer to track it down, Rush said. If the applicant didn’t bother, those courts will say “too bad, plaintiff loses,” he said.

On the other hand, a state with strict consumer protection laws might consider it deceptive to tell a “bunch of starry-eyed applicants” that 95 percent of graduates are employed when only 22 percent of them are working in legal jobs, Rush said.

It seems reasonable for the defendant law schools to argue that future lawyers ought to read the fine print. Are law schools really going to advertise how poorly their graduates are doing in the job market?

Sure, it might be nice if law schools tried to be honest about their graduates’ employment prospects. But don’t expect it to happen anytime soon. No law school wants to put this on its website: “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here! Thou art cash cows being led to the $laughter!”

Lawsuits against law schools weak: legal ed experts [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]
Law Profs Comment on the Lawsuits Against Law Schools [Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports]

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