Paul L. Caron

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Judge Recommends Dismissing Lawsuit Accusing Widener Law School Of Doctoring Job Stats

New Jersey Law Journal, Judge Recommends Dismissing Lawsuit Accusing Widener Law School of Doctoring Job Stats:

Widener Delaware LogoA lawsuit accusing Widener University School of Law of inflating job statistics is facing dismissal nearly seven years after it was filed.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Cathy Waldor recommended in a report made public Friday that the case be dismissed with prejudice for failure to prosecute. The recommendation comes after the sole remaining plaintiff, Gregory Emond, who is pro se, did not appear for an Aug. 27 hearing on an order to show cause on why the case should not be dismissed. Waldor’s recommendation is subject to approval by U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton in 14 days after any objectors are allowed to be heard.

The suit against Widener was filed in 2012 as part of a movement accusing law schools of overstating their graduates’ success in finding legal employment. Similar suits were filed against DePaul University College of Law, John Marshall Law School, Golden Gate University School of Law, the University of San Francisco School of Law and the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University, among others. But law schools generally prevailed in the litigation. ...

Widener’s law school in Wilmington, Delaware, was accused of claiming that 90% of its graduates got jobs within nine months of graduation, without distinguishing between legal jobs and other positions. Lead plaintiff John Harnish, who obtained his law degree from Widener in 2009, claimed he was unable to find a law job and instead worked as a bartender. ...

Emond, the last pro se plaintiff, said on the record in 2017 that he wished to dismiss his case, but never signed a stipulation of dismissal, Waldor said. Emond claimed in the suit that he found employment as a practicing attorney after law school, but the pay was less than he made before enrolling at Widener, and was not enough to pay his student loans.

Emond could not be reached for comment, and his former counsel, David Stone of Stone & Magnanini, said the litigation against Widener and other law schools had benefits, even though he did not prevail. “I think that our various lawsuits, and publicity relating to those lawsuits, led to adoption of new rules nationally by the ABA and internally by law schools, so that the practice [of inflating employment numbers] is less frequent. It was a fairly widespread practice, particularly among lower-tier law schools that didn’t have good placement statistics,” Stone said.

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