- Andrew Cuomo, Antitrust, Cars, Death Penalty, Department of Justice, Fashion, Fashion Is Fun, George Washington University Law School, Mergers and Acquisitions, Morning Docket, Pornography, SCOTUS, Trademarks, Violence
During my youth, most of the black people I knew called me an “Oreo.” Not because I liked the cookies. Apparently, I was black on the outside (obviously), but “white on the inside.” It took me a while to figure out why, since politically I don’t think I’ve ever shared a majoritarian view of things. But it turns out that simply by “speaking well,” getting good grades, and insisting on keeping my pants high enough to fully cover my ass, I was “acting white” to certain black kids. The fact that I dance for s**t, can’t hit a jump shot to save my life, and have two parents who spent more time in college than prison surely didn’t help my “street cred.”
Of course, age has taught me that I grew up around a lot of low-expectation-having black kids. Black people with self respect wouldn’t consider childhood-Elie an Oreo. A big freaking dork who should never be invited to a party, perhaps, but not an Oreo.
Now, most black people have had similar upbringings to my own (though, sadly, I’m still the most rhythmically challenged black person I know). Nowadays, my black friends say things like, “Elie, you are the only black person I know who could write a post about the Wire and see yourself as the only white guy on the show.” See, that’s not racist. That’s just funny. That black friend (oh, F-U [Redacted], by the way) wasn’t suggesting that I was an Oreo because of how I acted; he was suggesting it because of who I identified with. That’s fair game.
I bring all of this up because that crucial distinction was totally lost on a Minnesota high school. The school allowed “Wigger Day” to happen on campus, and now it is getting sued.
Yeah, apparently turning a blind eye while your students make fun of an entire culture is something that can get you sued….
Ever since Anna Alaburda sued Thomas Jefferson School of Law over its allegedly misleading employment statistics, we’ve been waiting for TJSL to respond. Today is that day, and the school’s answer does not disappoint.
Thomas Jefferson makes a solid defense of itself. But in the process of trying to quash Alaburda’s lawsuit, the school offers some pretty damning admissions that seem to support Alaburda’s underlying moral, if not legal, point…
- 9th Circuit, Antonin Scalia, Gender, Labor / Employment, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, SCOTUS, Supreme Court, Ted Frank, Ted Olson, Wal-Mart, Women's Issues
We just learned, via the SCOTUSblog liveblog of today’s proceedings at the Supreme Court, that Wal-Mart v. Dukes has been decided. Here is some background about the case, one of the most closely watched of this Term, and here is the opinion of the Court.
Justice Scalia wrote the opinion of the Court, which was joined in its entirety by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito. SCOTUS reversed the Ninth Circuit and held that class action certification should not have been granted in this case, brought on behalf of hundreds of thousands of female Wal-Mart employees who alleged a pattern and practice of pay and promotion discrimination by the giant retailer.
Justice Ginsburg filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part, which was joined by Justices Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. What did RBG have to say?
For the most part, I’ve just been happy that the lawsuit against Thomas Jefferson School of Law, over the school’s allegedly misleading employment statistics, exists. It’s not about winning or losing; it’s about raising awareness of the disingenuous way law schools go about filling up their classes.
Of course, anytime somebody says “it’s not about winning or losing,” you can best believe that person expects to lose. I’ve been operating under the assumption that Anna Alaburda, the woman suing TJSL, would get her butt kicked all over the courthouse.
But maybe I am wrong to give up hope for a victory so quickly. Karen Sloan of the National Law Journal has managed to find a couple of lawyers who believe law schools could be in big trouble…
We mentioned this news last week, but judging from the slew of emails we’ve received about it, many of you want to discuss it at greater length. So let’s talk about it: the class action lawsuit recently filed against Thomas Jefferson School of Law by a 2008 honors graduate of TJSL, Anna Alaburda, alleging that the San Diego-based law school commits fraud, by using misleading post-graduation employment and salary data to attract new students.
The complaint in Alaburda v. TJSL contains counts for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and violations of various California statutes (including laws against unfair business practices and false advertising). Plaintiff Anna Alaburda claims that she racked up more than $150,000 in student loans and can’t find decent legal employment, even though she graduated with honors from TJSL, passed the California bar exam, and sent more than 150 résumés to law firms. She now does document review on a project-by-project basis.
Alaburda’s lawsuit seeks compensatory damages “believed to be in excess of $50,000,000,” punitive damages, and injunctive relief, to stop TJSL from continuing its allegedly unlawful conduct. Alaburda seeks to represent a class consisting of “[a]ll persons who attended TJSL within the statutory period” — a group estimated to contain more than 2,300 individuals.
Let’s take a closer look at this lawsuit — filed by partner Brian Procel of Miller Barondess LLP, a Boalt Hall grad and former Quinn Emanuel associate, incidentally — and consider its possible implications for legal education….
As we recently mentioned, the deadline for joining or objecting to the proposed class action settlement in Stetson v. West Publishing Corp. is fast approaching (May 30). The lawsuit, alleging antitrust violations, was filed against West Publishing, which owns (but is selling) BAR/BRI, and Kaplan, the test prep company owned by the Washington Post. The class is defined as “[a]ll persons and entities who paid for a BAR/BRI full-service bar-review course from August 1, 2006, through and including March 21, 2011.”
Are you a class member? Let’s review your options….
UPDATE (5:30 PM): Please note the updates added to the end of this post.
As we reported last month, it looks like Leeds Equity Partners will be acquiring BAR/BRI, the well-known bar exam preparation business, from West Publishing / Thomson Reuters. If you’ve taken a bar exam prep course, odds are that you took BAR/BRI — although there are alternatives, such as BarMax and Themis (disclosure: ATL advertisers, whom we thank for their support).
If the deal goes through, Leeds will get its hands on what would seem to be a very good business. BAR/BRI courses aren’t cheap, at a few thousand a pop (often paid by law firms, which aren’t very price-sensitive). And since BAR/BRI has had its bar-prep infrastructure in place for a long time — curricula, instructors, etc. — its marginal costs for each new teaching cycle aren’t that high. In short, BAR/BRI seems like a money-making machine.
(Note: This analysis about the economics of BAR/BRI is somewhat speculative. Please correct us, by email or in the comments, if we’re wrong.)
But Leeds will also inherit complaints about BAR/BRI. Some are of the consumer variety — e.g., the website going down when people were trying to pick their course locations, the date by which books must be returned in order to get deposits back being set too early, unfair late fees, etc.
And some complaints are of the legal variety, in the form of antitrust class actions alleging collusion between (1) West Publishing, the owner of BAR/BRI, and (2) Kaplan Inc., the test prep company owned by the Washington Post Company that is known in the legal community for its LSAT courses. One of the lawsuits alleges “that BAR/BRI agreed not to compete in the LSAT business and that Kaplan agreed not to compete in the bar review business, thereby allocating to BAR/BRI the market for full-service bar review courses in the United States.” (Now, of course, Kaplan has its own full-service bar review course.)
To the legal complaints we now turn. You should follow along, since there might be some money in it for you….
[Lawyer Dennis] Gingold claims to have billed an astonishing 48,772 hours on this case—which works out to almost 9.5 hours a day, every day without a single day off, between November 4, 1995, and December 7, 2009. This includes a seven-year stretch where Mr. Gingold billed 28,230 hours—an average of eleven hours a day, every day seven days a week without a single day off.
As anyone who has had to keep billing records knows, it is rare for ten hours of billing to take only ten hours: there are bathroom breaks, coffee breaks, meal breaks, interruptions, and so forth. There are legendary accounts of tireless attorneys who forgo family and leisure; work on little sleep; and are able to regularly bill 3000 hours a year, but they are few and far between. Perhaps Mr. Gingold is one of these exceptional individuals, so far above average that he can routinely bill 4000 hours a year without loss of productivity or health, but this proposition merits scrutiny.
– Ted Frank, founder of the Center for Class Action Fairness, in a brief objecting to the proposed $3.4 billion, taxpayer-funded Cobell Indian trust settlement. The settlement includes a fee request in which solo practitioner Dennis Gingold claims to have billed over 28,000 hours in seven years — at his hourly rate of $925 an hour.
The makers of supposed cold-buster Airborne settled a class action lawsuit over false advertising claims today. When the herbal supplement first debuted ten years ago, the packaging proclaimed that it could “ward off colds.” Since then, the company has softened its claim, but the only study to support Airborne’s efficacy was conducted by two people and paid for by the company. No wonder it has agreed to pay back $23.3 million.
If you’ve bought Airborne recently and you saved your receipt, they’ll reimburse you the $6.99 (Walgreen’s price). Hey, it may be worth it to some people.
UPDATE: Good news! Our diligent commenters pointed out that as long as you have proof of purchase of one box of Airborne, you can get a refund for up to six additional boxes. That raises the stakes to roughly $48.93, which may be worth it to this law student.