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….
Did you take a BAR/BRI bar exam review course sometime in the past five years? Or are you taking BAR/BRI now, having paid for it prior to March 21? If so, keep reading.
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.
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.
Watch to find out what some of our subscribers received in their May box!
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We currently have a number of active openings for associate roles at US and UK firms in HK / China, Singapore and two new in-house openings. As always, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org in order to get details of current openings in Asia, as well as to discuss the Asia markets in general and what we expect for openings later this year. Our Evan Jowers and Robert Kinney will be in Beijing the week of March 25 and Evan Jowers will be in Hong Kong the week of April 1, if you would like to meet them in person.
The US associate openings we have in law firms are in the usual areas of M&A, cap markets, FCPA / white collar litigation, finance, and project finance. The most urgent of our top tier (top 15 US or magic circle) law firm openings in Asia (among many other firm openings that we have in Asia) are as follows:
• 2nd to 5th year mandarin fluent M&A associates needed in Beijing and Hong Kong at several firms;
• Korean fluent 2nd to 4th year cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 5th year Japanese fluent M&A associates needed in Tokyo;
• 4th to 6th year mandarin fluent cap markets associate needed in Hong Kong;
• 2nd to 4th year M&A / cap markets mix associate needed in Singapore.
The last time I flapped my wings your way, I tried to make at least enough noise about your mobile phone to make you more than a little bit uncomfortable. I hope I did. If enough of us become anxious enough about the known and unknown unknowns and knowns in our mobile phones, then we can start making wise decisions about how to manage that information and its resultant investigations.
Today, I’d like to put a finer point on the last installment’s topic by asking a question that seemed to catch most attendees off-guard at a conference panel that I moderated last week: is there discoverable personal information in a mobile app? Our panelists’ answer was a uniform “yes” with one stating that, if he had to choose only one type of data that he could discover from a mobile phone, he’d choose app data. Why? Because there’s simply so much of it and because almost all of it is objective – not just user-created like an email – but machine-tracked like GPS, usage duration, log in and log out times, browsed web addresses, browsed actual addresses. Also, most of us seem to have the idea that data doesn’t actually “stick” to our mobile devices the way it “sticks” to our hard drives. Maybe there’s a disconnect based on the fact that our phones are mobile so we assume the data is mobile to?
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