It takes guts to sue a law school. So why is “everyone” doing it?
In the past few months, graduates of New York Law School and Michigan’s Thomas M. Cooley LawSchool have filed lawsuits against their alma maters for inflating employment and salary statistics. This year alone, three New York Law and four Cooley graduates have filed complaints against their schools. An article in BusinessWeek (“New York Law School Sued for Inflating Job, Pay Statistics”) looks at what might have sparked the uproar.
For starters, law students are still struggling to find jobs in a floundering economy. Moreover, the National Association for Law Placement’s report (which covered 93% of 2010 law school graduates) shows that starting salaries for last year’s law school graduates are down 20% as of last month. It’s a perfect storm: if the law industry is offering low salaries and no jobs, why go to law school?
And that’s exactly why these students feel misled. The graduates argue that New York law and Cooley’s marketing techniques utilize false advertising. They believe the schools posted job statistics that did not specify where graduates were employed (big difference between waiting tables at a coffee shop and clerking at the Supreme Court).
Both New York Law and Cooley stand by their job placement rates. Richard A. Matasar, dean of New York Law School, said, “These claims are without merit and we will vigorously defend against them in court.”
Meanwhile, an article in Inside Higher Ed (“Suing Over Jobs”) looks at how the schools may not be the only ones responsible. The regulating institutions of higher education could be more on top of their statistics to ensure that they reflect information that will properly prepare students for the job prospects ahead. The American Bar Association (ABA) and the National Association for Legal Career Professionals (NALP) have already taken steps to ensure law schools are more careful with the statistics they publicize to prospective students. The newly proposed ABA survey will specifically ask students if their school funds their employment positions and if they are long or short term. NALP thinks these changes will not be effective, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.
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