Inflated Statistics

Back in December 2012, we broke the news that the dismissal of the Gomez-Jimenez case, a class action lawsuit over New York Law School’s allegedly deceptive post-graduate employment data, had been affirmed by New York’s Appellate Division, First Department. Although the opinion carried with it a wrist slap for NYLS and its business practices, Jesse Strauss, one of the lawyers for the nine plaintiffs, was unsatisfied, and vowed to appeal the case to the state’s highest court.

Well, it seems that the day of reckoning has finally arrived, because the members of Team Strauss/Anziska have filed a motion with the New York Court of Appeals to reinstate their clients’ claims….

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Back in March, we reported that Thomas Jefferson School of Law’s motion to dismiss Anna Alaburda’s class action lawsuit over the school’s allegedly misleading employment statistics was “not well-taken,” and the case moved on to the discovery phase. We had previously wondered if Thomas Jefferson could actually lose the case, but given the wave of dismissals in the other law school lawsuits, that glimmer of hope soon faded. But then again, none of those cases ever made it to discovery.

Today, we’ve got news that will make all other schools pray that existing and potential cases against them never make it as far as that of Alaburda v. TJSL, the very first law school lawsuit filed. Everything — and we do mean everything — changes when you get to discovery.

For example, you may find out that your law school was allegedly engaged in a deliberate scheme to inflate its own employment statistics….

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On Friday, we reported on an aggressive and arguably misleading sales pitch from the people at Rutgers Law – Camden. The pitch, aimed towards students who had taken the GMAT, made this claim (among others): “As a direct result of the quality of legal education at Rutgers, of those employed nine months after graduation, 90% were employed in the legal field and 90% were in full time positions.” The school was clearly trying to make the economic case for going to law school, something you don’t see as much of in this difficult economy — at least from schools willing to tell the full story of their employment outcomes.

We wondered whether Rutgers was being as forthright as it could with its potential students. Over at Inside the Law School Scam, Professor Paul Campos took a closer look at the Rutgers numbers, and not surprisingly he found them to be highly suspect. Law School Transparency also shed more light on how Rutgers cooked up these numbers, and they went so far as to call for the resignation of the school’s associate dean of enrollment, Camille Andrews, who sent out the recruitment letter.

If you thought Rutgers Law Dean Rayman Solomon was going to throw Dean Andrews under the bus for this adventure in advertising, you haven’t been paying attention to how the law school game is played. Dean Solomon has come out in defense of his school’s recruitment materials.

I’m not entirely sure about the meaning of what he said, but there were definitely words involved…

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* Two weeks from today, the Supreme Court will be hearing oral arguments on the Obamacare case. Everyone thinks Justice Kennedy’s vote will swing the Court, but Chief Justice Roberts isn’t about to let him steal his sunshine. [New York Times]

* Montana’s Chief Judge stands accused of sending a racist email, but he once counseled law students about the dangers of email. It seems like the man can’t follow his own advice… and that’s some major Cebulls**t! [Billings Gazette]

* Gaming post-graduation employment statistics: the Columbia Law School and NYU Law edition. It looks like it might be time to fire up the Strauss/Anziska machine for the top tier of our nation’s law schools. [New York Post]

* Greenberg Traurig and Alston & Bird think people care about their new, multimillion dollar rental agreements in Los Angeles. No one cares. They just want to know where the spring bonuses are. [Los Angeles Times]

* But speaking of Alston & Bird, some Floridians are complaining about the firm’s bill. $475 an hour for four partners and associates? You really need to stop, because you’re getting the deal of the century. [The Ledger]

* James Humphreys — with a P-H! — donated $1M to GW School of Law so more students can receive scholarships. Maybe one of our favorite Wall Street Occupiers will get one? [National Law Journal]

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?)

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The battle for greater law school transparency, for more accurate and complete information from law schools regarding the jobs obtained (or not obtained) by their graduates, has many fronts. Some advocates for transparency work through organizations, such as the Tennessee non-profit Law School Transparency. Some have turned to the political process, where the issue of transparency has attracted the attention of several United States senators. And some have looked to litigation, suing law schools for providing allegedly misleading data about post-graduate employment outcomes.

Here’s an interesting idea: what if law schools just started posting comprehensive, accurate employment data on their websites? On a voluntary basis — not compelled by politicians, lawsuits, or the American Bar Association (ABA)?

Wouldn’t that be great? And wouldn’t it be helpful to prospective law students trying to decide whether it’s worth investing three years of their lives, and a large amount of (often borrowed) money, to pursue a law degree at the school in question?

Take a look at what they’re now doing at the University of Chicago Law School. Could it perhaps serve as the model for law school reporting of employment data?

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We mentioned last night that the University of Illinois College of Law has had to restate the LSAT scores and GPAs of its admitted students for the last three years. If you’ve been following the story, you know that Illinois Law had previously admitted that it misstated admissions data for a year.

I haven’t made that big of a deal about this new restatement because it just doesn’t surprise me: if a school lied once, it probably lied many, many times.

Also, I mean, what are we really learning here? That Illinois Law could have higher standards for admitting students? Every law school could. This is news?

But, some of you really want to talk about how Illinois has been lying all this time. It’s like some of you think that the ABA is actually going to do something to punish Illinois….

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