The attorneys behind class actions against New York Law School and Thomas M. Cooley Law School announced plans on Oct. 5 to sue 15 additional law schools for publishing what they described as misleading postgraduate job statistics.
They have yet to secure enough name plaintiffs for those suits, however. They won’t file until three alumni from each of the targeted schools sign on, they said during a conference call with reporters. The announcement was intended in part to drum up plaintiff interest, they acknowledged.
The attorneys, David Anziska and Jesse Strauss, detailed what they said was convincing evidence that law schools have offered a skewed picture of postgraduate employment rates and salaries for years, not just since the latest recession.
“The problem isn’t going away, and the legal academy isn’t owning up to it,” Strauss said. “We strongly believe that by the end of 2012, almost every school in the nation will be sued, if not by plaintiffs who are represented by us, then by plaintiffs represented by other law firms.”
Strauss and Anziska said they are targeting the 15 schools either because alumni or students approached them with concerns, or because the postgraduate job data they have reported to the American Bar Association were “implausible.”
“The lawsuits against New York Law School and Thomas M. Cooley Law School are prompting many recent law school graduates with high debt loads and disappointing job prospects to question the employment rates reported by their schools,” Anziska said. “The numbers reported by schools just don’t comport with the reality of the legal job market. We hope that litigation, combined with pressure from regulators, applicants, students and alumni, changes the way legal education is marketed and provides compensation to those who have been misled in the past.”
A number of the schools under threat of litigation did not respond to calls for comment. California Western School of Law Communications Director Pam Hardy said the school has not deceived students.
“We stand behind the work our career services office has done and their efforts to collect accurate statistics on graduate employment,” she said, noting that school administrators hope that reforms proposed by the ABA will improve job data at all schools.
Villanova University School of Law, another targeted school, recently completed an independent audit of its jobs data. The ABA censured the school this year for inflating the median grade-point averages and LSAT scores of its incoming classes.
“The third-party firm found no material errors in the data reported [on graduate jobs] for the past three years,” said Director of Media Relations Jonathan Gust.
Anziska and Strauss represent alumni of both New York Law School and Thomas M. Cooley in class actions filed in August. Those suits seek tuition refunds and other remedies, including independent auditing of law school jobs data. They followed on the heels of another class action filed in May by Anna Alaburda, an alumna of San Diego’s Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Her complaint, which is being pressed by Los Angeles firm Miller Barondess, accused the school of committing fraud by misrepresenting employment statistics.