American Bar Association / ABA, John Marshall Law School, Law Schools

Twelve More Law Schools Slapped with Class Action Lawsuits Over Employment Data

Back in October, we informed our readers that law school litigators Jesse Strauss and David Anziska intended to file class action lawsuits against 15 additional schools, on top of the two they’d already filed against Cooley Law and New York Law School. In mid-December, we brought you an update on the status of those potential filings after Anziska told us that at least three named plaintiffs had been secured for 11 out of the 15 law schools on October’s target list. And now, about a month and a half later, have we got some news for you.

Anziska quipped in an interview with us last year that he hoped to turn 2012 into the year of “law school litigation.” Well, the class action crusader is off to a great start, because today, Team Strauss/Anziska partnered up with six other law firms and filed lawsuits against 12 law schools around the country. According to Anziska, “these lawsuits will define a generation.”

Which law firms have joined in their mighty quest, and which law schools have been sued? Find out all of this information, plus additional details that we learned during today’s media conference call, after the jump….

With the addition of these 12 lawsuits, the grand total of law schools facing class actions over allegedly deceptive employment data is now 15 (let’s not forget about Alaburda v. TJSL, the lawsuit that got the ball rolling). Anziska had this to say about the latest bunch of lawsuits:

Now that fifty-one additional recent law school graduates, represented by some of the most accomplished consumer protection lawyers in the country, have sued their law schools, it is time for the schools to take responsibility, provide compensation, and commit to transparency. These lawsuits are only the beginning.

Some of the newly filed complaints can be found here. The 12 schools facing lawsuits, and their reported post-graduate employment rates, are as follows:

  • Albany Law School (reports rates of between 91% and 97%);
  • Brooklyn Law School (reports rates of between 91% and 98%);
  • California Western School of Law (reports rates of between 90% and 93%);
  • Chicago-Kent College of Law (reports rates of between 90% and 97%);
  • DePaul University College of Law (reports rates of between 93% and 98%);
  • Florida Coastal School of Law (reports rates of between 80% and 95%);
  • Golden Gate University School of Law (reports rates of 85% nine months after graduation);
  • Hofstra Law School (reports rates of between 94% and 97%);
  • John Marshall School of Law (Chicago) (reports rates of between 90% and 100%);
  • Southwestern Law School (reports rates of between 97% and 98%);
  • University of San Francisco School of Law (reports rates of between 90% and 95%);
  • Widener University School of Law (reports rates of between 90% and 96%).

According to Law School Transparency’s Winter 2012 Transparency Index, just ONE of the schools listed above has disclosed the number of 2010 graduates who found full-time, permanent jobs for which bar passage was required. But are we really supposed to congratulate a law school for such a half-assed attempt to be honest about its post-graduate employment statistics? Apparently that’s the case these days, so congrats on being slightly less dishonest than your fellow defendants, Southwestern Law School.

Here is some more information from today’s press release:

Each lawsuit has been filed by multiple graduates as representative plaintiffs. The lawsuits allege that many schools falsely inflated graduate employment rates by, among other artifices, employing their own graduates in temporary jobs and counting graduates working in non-legal-related jobs and part-time and temporary jobs as “employed” even though such jobs either do not require a law degree or do not pay enough to service the massive debt taken on to finance the degree. The representative plaintiffs further allege that many schools reported “average” salaries based on a small sample of high earning graduates. As a result, the representative plaintiffs enrolled and remained enrolled at the school only to find themselves burdened with debt and with limited job prospects.

So which law firms have signed up to help Strauss and Anziska bring the “law school industry cartel” to its knees? The six firms from around the country include:

  • Law Offices of Frank Raimond (New York, New York);
  • The Clinton Law Firm (Chicago, Illinois);
  • Concepcion Martinez & Bellido LLP (Miami, Florida);
  • Finkelstein Thompson LLP (Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, California);
  • Kershaw, Cutter & Ratinoff LLP (Sacramento, California); and
  • Stone & Magnanini LLP (Short Hills, New Jersey and New York, New York)

Below is a chart of the primary counsel on each case, divided by geographic region:

Strauss and Anziska, who claim that they plan to sue 20-25 law schools every few months, held a media conference call this afternoon and introduced attorneys from each of the firms who will be assisting in the law school litigation. Named plaintiffs also introduced themselves on the call, including Cory Bennett of the University of San Francisco School of Law (who had to take a job at Macy’s for less than $10 an hour), Adam Bevelacqua of Brooklyn Law School (who can’t even get a document review job, even though his school’s career center assured him he’d be able to get a job), and Audra Awai of Florida Coastal School of Law (a mother who was forced to join the army because she knew she’d be unable to get a law job).

When we asked Team Strauss/Anziska whether they thought that the trend of deceptive employment statistics would continue despite enhanced scrutiny, this is what they had to say:

STRAUSS: There has been a lot of positive movement in terms of more transparency from law schools, but it’s not happening fast enough, and not as thoroughly as we’d like. There’s been a lot of resistance. Folks coming into law school now have much better information than people who enrolled a few years ago, but people are continuing to enroll based on misleading information, and they continue to have massive debt. We’ve been working with Law School Transparency and we endorse a lot of their ideas, but in addition to the advocacy, there also needs to be compensation.

So, what is to be done about this situation? How can we protect future law students from experiencing the same fate as law school graduates of years past?

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: the American Bar Association needs to do more than simply blame recent law school graduates for this problem. As it stands, about 8% of ABA member schools have been sued for fraudulent practices. The law is supposed to be a noble profession — how is that noble in any way, shape, or form? The ABA can’t change what happened in the past, but it can stop pretending that law students are to blame for trusting these supposedly noble educational institutions. These lawsuits may remedy what is happening now, but we need a real solution going forward so that future law students aren’t left holding the bag.

Breaking: 12 more law schools facing class actions [Law School Transparency]
Fresh round of litigation targets 12 law schools over jobs data [National Law Journal]
A Dozen Law Schools Hit with Lawsuits over Jobs Data [WSJ Law Blog]

Earlier: Calling All Disgruntled Law School Graduates: Will You Ring in the New Year By Suing Your School?
Fifteen More Law Schools to Be Hit with Class Action Lawsuits Over Post-Grad Employment Rates
Cooley Law and NYLS Hit With Class Action Lawsuits

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