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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Law School Sues Law Firm and Bloggers for Criticizing its Placement Data

Thomas Cooley Logo Thomas M. Cooley Law School yesterday issued this press release:

The Thomas M. Cooley Law School filed two lawsuits today to protect the reputation of the school and its students and alumni from defamatory Internet attacks.  In the two actions, the law school asserts defamation and other legal claims against a New York City law firm, two lawyers in that firm, and four anonymous Internet bloggers....

In one lawsuit, Cooley contends that the law firm of Kurzon Strauss LLP and two lawyers in that firm, David Anziska and Jesse Strauss, defamed Cooley by falsely claiming on Internet websites, social media, and email that Cooley, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) Michigan educational corporation, has defrauded students by misrepresenting its graduate employment placement rates, average starting salary figures, and student loan default rates.  In the other lawsuit, Cooley claims that four anonymous Internet bloggers defamed the law school in a series of Internet statements on several websites over the last few months.

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Comments

This is truly depressing. In my opinion, Cooley signaled their lack of institutional integrity when they made their own "rankings" that placed themselves as the second best law school in the country. That would be like McDonald's creating a restaurant rating guide a la Michelin's or Zagats, that places themselves as the second best restaurant in the country. In my opinion that would be outrageous consumer fraud, and in the same way so is Cooley's ranking. I also read that Cooley has the highest attrition rate among any law school, and that they reportedly kick out 25% of their students each year. Is it surprising that such a school would resort to suing their own graduates, solely because such graduates wanted to warn others about the school? I hope for the sake of our profession's reputation, as well as the right of students to express their first amendment rights, that the judge slaps this lawsuit down hard.

Posted by: Tax LLM | Jul 14, 2011 10:45:38 PM

Discovery should be very, very interesting.

Posted by: sca721 | Jul 15, 2011 9:45:08 AM

According to Cooley's own complaint against the law firm, the firm had posted to JD Underground on or about 6/8/11, that it was conducting a widespread investigation of law schools for "blatantly manipulating their post-graduate employment data and salary information". The post then went on (according to Cooley) to single out Cooley.

Is Cooley's suit an attempt to bully the law firm (Kurzon Strauss) into dropping its investigation?

Posted by: sca721 | Jul 15, 2011 10:08:09 AM

This can't end well for Cooley. It is a matter of public concern, and meeting the reckless disregard standard in that context is nigh well impossible. Moreover, this is not a case of rant site by folks with an ax to grind (they graduated and have jobs) where an intent to make intentional false statements of face is remotely plausible.

Posted by: ohwilleke | Jul 15, 2011 10:26:09 AM

Blah blah, I hope for the sake of our profession's reputation, blah blah.
????
Hahaha, it's a little late to worry about that, counselor. Hahahahahaha.

Posted by: the Charlie Daniels of the torque wrench | Jul 15, 2011 3:21:15 PM

I started at Cooley Law School in 1988, as part of a class of, I believe, 502 students. I graduated in 1991 as part of a class slightly above 200 students. I had what I consider to be a successful private practice. I served ten years as prosecuting attorney and am proud of the work I did there. I believe I received a good legal education at Cooley. Having worked my entire career within 100 miles of Cooley, I have seen many good to great lawyers from Cooley, and many poor ones. Many of those who started in my class dropped out as soon as their grades were good enough to attend the schools their mommies and daddies had originally wanted them to attend. I went to college in Philadelphia and had a far higher percentage of people from North Jersey and New York at Cooley than were in my entire college. There were more students driving brand new cars at Cooley than I have seen on many car lots. I have maintained my law license since I retired as prosecutor in 2005 to enter another business field, which I enjoy. The extent of my legal involvement these last five years has been reading Althouse and Instapundit. Cooley provided me with the opportunity to make a good career for my family. I am happy to have attended there, but there were many with whom I came in contact that took the fact that I attended Cooley as a joke. It didn't deserve that, nor did it deserve any praise due to any school not in the elite. My point in writing all of this is I personally have never been embarrassed to have been a graduate of Cooley until I read about this lawsuit.

Posted by: Gordon McNeill | Jul 15, 2011 3:55:28 PM

Guess they are ignorant of the Streisand effect.

Posted by: SPQR | Jul 15, 2011 3:55:49 PM

Tax LLM, I hope that too and I also hope the defendants file a counter suit on such grounds as may have a chance of winning against an institution which would file such an obvious "harassment" lawsuit. If you were Cooley would you lack the understanding of the additional damage that this action would bring your reputation. Well, if you were Cooley; uh, obviously if you were Cooley....

Posted by: Gregg Daison | Jul 15, 2011 4:09:43 PM

"I hope for the sake of our profession's reputation . . . "

Reminds me of the old lawyer joke, "99 percent of this profession gives the 1 percent a bad name."

Posted by: Earnest | Jul 15, 2011 4:27:01 PM

What I've heard - second-hand and anecdotal - about Cooley is that the school will take just about anybody with a pulse, but to stay in the school you need to be diligent and intelligent. Now there's another law school in the New York City area called Touro, which takes just about anyone with a pulse...full stop.

Posted by: Brian | Jul 15, 2011 4:58:32 PM

I graduated from Thomas M. Cooley in 1995. In my opinion, I received an excellent legal education. I returned to Arizona, passed the bar the first time, and was hired quickly thereafter. I have remained with same employer for the entirety of my 16 year legal career, first as an associate then a partner. While my experience is only one amongst many thousands, and should be considered in that light, I have never hesitated to recommend Cooley to anyone aspiring to become an attorney.

Posted by: Steven Moss | Jul 15, 2011 5:56:43 PM

I graduated from Cooley in 2008. Passed the Bar in 2009. I'm still unemployed. Good luck, Kurzon Strauss!

Posted by: UnemployedCooleyGrad | Jul 15, 2011 8:51:09 PM

If I could just give Cooley some advice. Stop worrying about your reputation. Just produce graduates like Mr. McNeill above and be happy with that. There's no need to rank yourself the second best law school in the world, or sue people for defaming your reputation on the internet. Do you think Harvard would care if people trashed them on some blogs?

Posted by: anon | Jul 15, 2011 10:30:20 PM