Paul L. Caron

Friday, September 21, 2012

Tamanaha: Law Schools Lose by Winning Lawsuits Brought by Former Students

Balkinization:  Law Schools Suffer Loss in Lawsuits, by Brian Tamanaha (Washington U.):

Of the dozen-plus misrepresentation lawsuits filed against law schools by their former students, in recent months three [DePaul, New York Law School, Thomas Cooley] have been dismissed (several have survived motions to dismiss and are in discovery). The core basis for the dismissal is the same in all three: prospective students cannot reasonably rely upon employment data posted by law schools. ...

These three law schools, and others facing similar suits, undoubtedly count these decisions as victories. But I cannot shake the sense that they mark a deep wound to the standing of law schools. The students we welcome in our doors are being warned by state and federal judges that they cannot take at face value the employment information we supply. For law schools, which have always held themselves out as honorable institutions of learning and professionalism, this is crushing.

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Over at ABAjournal, a commenter disturbed by the dialogue surrounding a law school graduate's suicide (and his mother's subsequent tax liability on forgiven ParentPLUS loans) remarked: "As a general observation, I’ve noticed increasing hostility to ordinary consumers faced with tough circumstances."

That's well said. Too much of the conversation surrounding the law school fraud cases has come from self-satisfied older lawyers who don't understand what very recent law school graduates are facing.

Posted by: Thoughtful | Sep 24, 2012 2:13:45 PM

Gee, lawyers and professors being found in court to be lying sacks of shit? and this is news?

Posted by: John Cunningham | Sep 21, 2012 7:32:04 PM

Why anyone would ever think that any institution full of humans would act other than as human hasn't been paying attention. There are always plenty who will take as much personal advantage as possible, and obvious there has been and maybe still is a lot of advantage to be taken by those who are full members of the law school institution. Students, who are just passing through, are merely sheep to be sheared to too many.

Posted by: JorgXMckie | Sep 21, 2012 5:52:20 PM

Tamanaha's is a magnificent post - and by virtue of summarizing and centralizing the core holdings of the dismissals ("Law Schools Cannot Be Trusted") his post will be reposted, and reposted, and reposted across hundreds of blogs - dissuading tens of thousands of future applicants.

Proving the very point that the Professor is making.

But the alumni furies are not through with the schools yet - they will come in waves, brandishing a long and varied list of claims:

1) Common law fraud
2) Federal wire fraud
3) Federal qui tam
4) Negligent misrepresentation
5) Fiduciary breach
6) Professional misconduct
7) Varied statutory violations regarding the provision of public services and the disclosure of public information.

And on and on.

Each cause of action will have its required elements and some will fail - but wave after wave will come, building upon the lessons of the past.

And all the while, the reputation (and therefore the financial attractiveness) of the law schools will rot.

And the schools will have earned every affliction.

The schools have earned (over decades) the undying hatred of a very large and well motivated percentage of their alumni/marks and they are about to reap the whirlwind.

Posted by: cas127 | Sep 21, 2012 4:27:37 PM

If the school educated the students and they can't win a law suit it does prove something.

Posted by: Anchovy | Sep 21, 2012 4:16:42 PM

Law schools are not interested in law students. Law schools are interested in green -- cash (greenback), check, credit card, or borrowed. They just want to be shown the money.

Law schools became a business a long time before law firms did.

Anyone have a stat on how many law schools there were in 1982 and the total number of students enrolled then vs. 2012? Assume real dollar equivalence (1 student = $1) and I'll bet that comparison will show you how a law school is a cash cow factory which works OK when there are farmers who want to buy cows (well, cows with pedigrees that is).

I'd offer Captain Renault up there his gambling winnings, but anyone who has matriculated to law school in the last, dare I say at least 5 years minimum, has made a horrendous bet.

Posted by: tax guy | Sep 21, 2012 9:09:00 AM

Lawyers don't tell the truth? Lawyers massage the facts?

I'm shocked, shocked.

Posted by: save_the_rustbelt | Sep 21, 2012 6:15:24 AM