Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.” In contrast, Thomas Jefferson School of Law does not tremble before the toothless authority of the ABA. In fact, the school feels free to respond to utter institutional FAIL with peevish blame-shifting. Either TJSL has a serious problem with its admissions standards or it fails students once they arrive. Or some combo platter thereof. Does it matter? Let’s all stipulate that this is a “bad thing.” But what, if anything, should be done?
There are obviously a range of legal/societal stances toward the treatment of “bad things.” Bad things like cigarettes are legal but have mandatory warning labels. Bad things like the New York Lottery are just a Darwinian tax on the ignorant. Predatory subprime mortgage lenders are subject to a patchwork of federal and state laws. Ponzi schemers face criminal fraud charges. Where a law school charging $120,000 for a dubious product fits into the scheme of bad things is open to debate. So we reader-sourced the question. Last week, we conducted a research poll asking:
• Should the ABA impose national minimum LSAT and/or GPA standards for entry into accredited law schools?
• In what range should the LSAT & GPA cutoffs be?
• Should law schools lose their accreditation if their graduates’ bar passage rates fall below a certain threshold?
• Below what level should a school’s accreditation be in jeopardy?
After the jump, you tell us whether and where the lines should be drawn….
When I saw the abysmal bar passage rate posted by the Thomas Jefferson School of Law on the July 2011 administration of the California bar exam, I opined that TJSL should lose its American Bar Association accreditation. Of course, that won’t happen. The ABA standards on accreditation are so lax that law schools can lie to the ABA and still not get kicked out.
Much to the ABA’s embarrassment, TJSL released some papers to reassure students that even with a 33% first time bar passage rate (and an incomprehensible 13% pass rate for returning test takers), Thomas Jefferson Law was still well within ABA parameters. TJSL sent out an email that reiterated ABA Standard 301, which sets forth bar passage requirements for accredited schools:
Standard 301 (A): A law school’s bar passage rate shall be sufficient, for purposes of Standard 301(a), if the school demonstrates that it meets any one of the following tests:
(1) That for students who graduated from the law school within the five most recently completed calendar years:
(a) 75 percent or more of these graduates who sat for the bar passed a bar examination, or
(b) in at least three of these calendar years, 75 percent of the students graduating in those years and sitting for the bar have passed a bar examination.
2) That in three or more of the five most recently completed calendar years, the school’s annual first-time bar passage rate in the jurisdictions reported by the school is no more than 15 points below the average first-time bar passage rates for graduates of ABA-approved law schools taking the bar examination in these same jurisdictions.
TJSL representatives say that they are in compliance with the two out of the three possible methods of compliance. They even produce a graph that shows how the class of 2011 was an outlier result — not that this graph is really something TJSL administrators should be proud of.
The solution? Blame Bar/Bri, and the students themselves….
The picturesque Richard H. Chambers Courthouse in Pasadena, home of the Ninth Circuit.
California has released some macro-level results from the July 2011 administration of the bar exam. The California bar is notoriously difficult, and every year we like to take a look at which schools prepared their students well for the exam, and which schools did not.
Last year, the overall pass rates were 68.3% for all takers and 75.2% for graduates of the twenty ABA-approved law schools in California. This year, overall pass rates clocked in at 67.7%, while students who went to ABA-accredited law schools in California passed at a 76.2% clip.
But you might be surprised at which California law school had the best passage rate on the California bar. Hint: it’s not Stanford, or Boalt Hall, or UCLA….
Now that it’s mid-December, we’re still waiting for these lawsuits to be filed. What’s the hold up? These crusading lawyers say that they are ready, willing, and able to sue all 15 law schools, but there’s just one teeny, tiny problem. Here’s where our loyal readers come in.
Are you a disgruntled law school graduate? Did you rely on your law school’s employment data, only to find that you are now unemployed or unemployable, despite your law degree?
If so, then consider heeding this call, if you want to help crowdsource a lawsuit against what Anziska calls the “law school industry cartel”….
Back in August, we reported that Kurzon Strauss had filed class action lawsuits against Thomas M. Cooley Law School and New York Law School for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and deceptive business practices. And earlier this week, we started to wonder how those cases would be moving forward, because Kurzon Strauss is apparently no more.
That’s right, the law firm that brought us some of the most prolific class action lawsuits of the year has broken up. Breaking up is hard to do, especially when you’ve got major cases like Gomez-Jimenez v. NYLS and MacDonald v. Cooley Law to deal with.
So, what’s a lawyer to do? Apparently the solution is to file fifteen more class action lawsuits against law schools with questionable post-graduate employment data.
Is your law school or alma mater a defendant? Let’s find out….
The school has filed two documents in response to Alaburda’s complaint. We’ve uploaded their demurrer and their motion to strike. They are not long; you should flip through them.
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…
A couple of days ago, we mentioned that Thomas Jefferson Law School had been sued, again. The school is already facing heat for its allegedly misleading employment statistics, and now it has also been caught up in sexual harassment litigation.
Officials at Thomas Jefferson furnished us with a response to the allegations that a school official sexually harassed an employee and his wife.
But that’s not the only law school litigation news we have today. Actually, we’ve come across a Craiglist ad looking for plaintiffs for a possible lawsuit against another school with “Thomas” in its name…
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past seven years. You can reach them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s that time of year again when JDs are starting to apply for 2L summer jobs and 2L summers are deciding which practice area to focus on.
For those JDs with an interest in potentially lateraling to or transferring to Asia in the future, please feel free to reach out to Kinney for advice on firm choices, interviewing and practice choices, relating to future marketability in Asia, or for a general discussion on your particular Asia markets of interest. This is of course a free of cost service for those who some years in the future may be our future industry contacts or perhaps even clients.
For some years now Kinney’s Asia head, Evan Jowers, has been formally advising Harvard Law students with such questions, as the Asia expert in Harvard Law’s “Ask The Experts Market Program” each summer and fall, with podcasts and scheduled phone calls. This has been an enjoyable and productive experience for all involved.
Whether you’re fresh off the bar exam or hitting your stride after hanging a shingle a few years ago, one thing’s for certain: independent attorneys who start a solo or small-law practice live with a certain amount of stress.
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