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….
I want you to digest that headline for a moment. This weekend, a rising 2L is going to share his “system” for succeeding in law school, a system he honed — for a whole year — at Thomas Jefferson School of Law. The kid is trying to charge people money to attend his seminar.
One problem I’ve noticed with law schools: they always seem to be speaking to the dumbest audience possible. They’re certainly not addressing the smartest guys in the room. They’re not even trying to speak to average, reasonable people. Instead, law schools seem to be talking at the very slowest people who might qualify for their programs, to people who have an irrational fear not just of “math,” but of “numbers” themselves.
Unfortunately for American law schools, most people are not as dumb as the law schools would like them to be. And when law schools engage in this Bobby Jindal style of patronizing double speak, neutral observers are forced to conclude that the law school is just communicating with its student body in the guttural words and expressive gestures the school figures they can understand. With each increasingly pathetic response to a problem, the so-called “value” of the school’s law degree goes lower and lower.
Sorry, the TL;DR version of the previous paragraph is: one of our favorite law schools is up to it again….
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….
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….
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: email@example.com.
Things have changed recently in Korea – a few of our US and UK client firms are looking, very selectively, for a lateral US associate hire. Until just recently, there was not much hiring like this going on in Korea, since US and UK firms started opening offices there. We have already placed two US associates in Korea in the past month at top firms. Most of the hiring partners we work with in Korea do not actively work with other recruiters.
If you are a Korean fluent US associate in London, New York or another major US market, 2nd to 6th year, at a top 20 firm, with cap markets or M&A focus (or mix), or project finance background, and you are interested in lateraling to Korea to a top US or UK firm, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Our head of Asia, Evan Jowers, was just in Korea recently, and Evan and Robert Kinney will be in Korea in a few weeks. We are in the process of helping several firms open new offices in Korea (a number of which are interviewing our partner level candidates) and also helping existing offices there fill openings.
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