Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Following up on last week's post, Brian Tamanaha: Law Schools Lose by Winning Lawsuits Brought by Former Students: Reuters: Law Schools Owe Students Truth About Job Market:
Law schools owe prospective students the truth about job prospects. Goosing graduates' employment statistics isn't illegal, several courts have ruled. But it's shameful nonetheless. With work scarce and tuition soaring, lawyer wannabes deserve better.
The dozen or so suits filed by recent law grads assert essentially the same claim: that fierce competition for students has prompted schools to exaggerate how many alums find work nine months after graduation. A whopping 59 of 143 institutions in the 2012 U.S. News and World Report rankings claimed employment rates of more than 90%.
Left unsaid is that the figures typically include non-legal, part-time and temporary work. Some schools even hire graduates themselves or pay firms to do so. That's fraud, the suits argue, because applicants reasonably assume the schools are talking about full-time jobs requiring a law degree. Otherwise, many of them might reconsider whether a three-year education costing more than $120,000 was worth it.
Courts have been unsympathetic. ... The courts may be correct that, legally, schools can't be held liable for phony job figures. But ethically, it should be a different story. Caveat emptor makes for a lousy law school motto.
(Hat Tip: Staci Zaretsky.)