Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Class Actions Filed Against Cooley, NYLS Over Fraudulent Placement Data

Law School Transparency reports that two class action lawsuits have been filed on behalf of seven graduates against Thomas M. Cooley Law School and New York Law School:

This action seeks to remedy a systemic, ongoing fraud that is ubiquitous in the legal education industry and threatens to leave a generation of law students in dire financial straits. Essentially, Plaintiffs want to bring an element of “sunlight” or transparency to the way law schools report post-graduate employment data and salary information, by requiring that they make critical, material disclosures that will give both prospective and current students a more accurate picture of their post-graduate financial situation, as opposed to the status quo where law schools are incentivized to engage in all sorts of legerdemain when tabulating employment statistics.

From the class action law firm's press release:

Two class action lawsuits alleging fraud, negligent misrepresentation and deceptive business practices were filed today against New York Law School (“NYLS”) and Thomas M. Cooley Law School (“Thomas Cooley”). The suits allege that the schools knowingly inflate reported rates of post-graduate employment and salary statistics to recruit and retain students. The putative class actions were filed by three NYLS graduates and four Thomas Cooley graduates, respectively.

“These suits are not just about NYLS and Thomas Cooley – we believe the practice of inflating employment statistics and salary information is endemic among law schools” stated David Anziska an attorney at Kurzon Strauss LLP (“Kurzon Strauss”). “We hope these suits bring systematic change in the way legal education is marketed by making transparency and accuracy the rule, not the exception. Our efforts to bring about that change begin today.”

In addition to seeking monetary relief for current and former students, the suits seek to ensure that law schools report accurate post-graduate employment data that allows prospective students to make an informed decision regarding whether to invest in a law degree. The suits allege that to recruit students for their programs – which cost tens-of-thousands of dollars per-year – law schools, including NYLS and Thomas Cooley, misrepresent their graduates’ employment prospects by misclassifying graduates who have only secured temporary or part-time employment as being “fully” employed, excluding graduates who do not supply information from employment surveys, and creating post-graduate “jobs programs” into which they hire their own graduates.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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The way the plaintiff's attorney describes his named plaintiffs in the NYLS case -- one with a "thriving law practice" and one working in legal and compliance for an investment firm -- it almost sounds like an advertisement to go to law school.

Posted by: Jester | Aug 10, 2011 8:23:34 PM

"And Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice
Cry 'Havoc,' and let slip the dogs of war"

Posted by: sc721 | Aug 10, 2011 4:23:09 PM

Great idea law schools, rip kids off AND teach them the skills they need to take you to court for what you did.

Posted by: anon | Aug 10, 2011 2:36:34 PM

The Gomez-Jimenez "complaint" is a great read (albeit absurdly repetitive), but it's not in the form of a pleading. No doubt it will draw a responsive motion pursuant to CPLR sections 3014 and 3024(a)&(b)for its prolixity, vagueness, ambiguity, and the prejudicial matter it unnecessarily contains. Who could possibly admit or deny most of its numbered allegations?

BTW, I'm sympathetic to Plaintiffs on this one. I went to NYLS (decades ago) and I still regret the choice. But this is the work product of an attorney who really wants to be a journalist.

Posted by: Jim O'Sullivan | Aug 10, 2011 1:00:00 PM

The Frankenstein reference is just unavoidable here.

Posted by: JimmyNashville | Aug 10, 2011 11:44:38 AM

NB: Kurzon Strauss is among the defendants in the defamation suit Cooley filed last month against various internet commenters. As reported on Above the Law, Kurzon Strauss has been trolling Craigslist in recent weeks in search of Cooley and NYLS graduates/plaintiffs.

Posted by: anonlawyer | Aug 10, 2011 11:26:49 AM