If you’re not buried in homework or constantly drunk (and still buried in homework), you’ve probably heard of the string of law students bringing suit against their former law schools.
Most are about graduated students who cannot find jobs and are suing their law schools, typically for falsification of employment and salary data. New York Law School is facing a class action suit for 200 million, Cooley is facing another class action suit for 250 million, and Thomas Jefferson is being sued by a single student for 50 million because she couldn’t find a job. And those are the front runners, filed last summer.
This article from last week summarizes all of the suits and indicates that the law-students-turned-plaintiffs trend isn’t going away- it’s growing. We’re up to 15 schools across the country for falsification of employment or salary data.
What I’m wondering is, whose law school decision was such a close call that it hinged solely on the employment and salary statistics? Further, if that data was so critical for someone, why wouldn’t that person, at a minimum, do some background research to figure out how those numbers came to be?
Last week one of my professors commented on the job market saying, “It’s a mess out there. It really is. I feel sorry for you. Gone are the days where you would graduate with a degree and people would be waiting to give you a job.” That wasn’t news to me, or any of the other 60 people in the room. It wasn’t news to us a year and a half ago when we started law school and the school imposed “professionalism” seminars on us, where no one tried to hide the bleakness of our career path and employment prospects.
While common sense and law don’t often seem to go together, on a basic and practical level, this shouldn’t have been news to anyone in any profession. The U.S. economy tanked while many law students were in college. Before we graduated, we watched our older friends put off “the real world” in favor of grad school because they couldn’t find jobs. When it was our turn, we watched our classmates send out dozens of résumés and consider themselves lucky to get a handful of calls for interviews in return.
All jokes aside about why people go to law school or the type of mental deficiencies we must have, we all applied for it knowing it would cost us three more years and tens of thousands of dollars.
What do these plaintiffs hope to gain? If pressed, I’d bet their cases were taken on a contingency basis, and if the litigators were smart, contingent on the money left after costs and fees were covered. The payout on a class action suit of that size with that fee arrangement that isn’t exactly speeding through the system won’t be anything to write home about. It seems like there’s more to lose than gain, especially when winning won’t get these people jobs. In fact, as a potential employer, I think I’d be a little weary of hiring someone whose solution to his failure to obtain his law school’s projected employment and/or salary is to sue the school.
At the risk of oversimplifying, maybe it comes down to personal responsibility from day one. Making the effort to make an informed decision should have been the first step. If they skipped that beginning, maybe we shouldn’t be surprised that this is how their law school story ends.
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