Thursday, September 27, 2012

"Caveat Emptor," Law Students

So, you are thinking about attending law school.  You do your "due diligence" by investigating schools, including reviewing placement statistics reported by the school. Three years later, $100,000 in debt and unemployed, you make a more critical examination of those placement statistics and find them to be . . . misleading, at best. Can you sue?

Some Cooley Law School graduates did - and lost. A U.S. District Court judge in Michigan dismissed the case on the grounds that no reasonable person could have relied on the placement statistics compiled and reported by the school.

With red flags waiving and cautionary bells ringing, an ordinary prudent person would not have relied on the statistics to decide to spend $100,000 or more [on law school tuition and fees].

Barring no holds, the opinion continues, Sometimes hope and dreams triumph over experience and common sense.  Nevertheless, it would be unreasonable for Plaintiffs to rely on two bare-bones statistics in deciding to attend a bottom-tier law school with the lowest admission standards in the country.  

Ouch! Although, the plaintiffs may have doomed their case by alleging in the amended complaint: Cooley publishes its own law-school rankings, which have been met with “great skepticism, if not outright ridicule, and no reputable academic or legal commentator takes it serious.”

The decision concludes, "The bottom line is that the statistics provided by Cooley and other law schools in a format required by the ABA were so vague and incomplete as to be meaningless and could not reasonably be relied upon.  But, as put in the phrase we lawyers learn early in law school–caveat emptor.

Law schools, apparently, should be placed in the category with used car salesmen. A prospective "buyer" should expect to be guarded against a healthy dose of "puffing."

Legal employment is a difficult market:

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