In February, one of our blogs noted lawsuits being filed by laws students seeking damages due to law schools misrepresenting employment and salary data. This included suits against New York Law School and Thomas M. Cooley Law School . The claims raised by the suits appeared to be an uphill climb due to a few factors. First, the critical thinking and analysis required of a potential attorney. Second, the unforeseen effects of the economic decline in 2008. At least two courts have expressed some agreement with those conclusions.
In the action against New York Law School, Judge Melvin L. Schweitzer of the Supreme Court of the State of New York – New York County dismissed the students’ case. In doing so, the court wrote, in part, as follows:
Plaintiffs could not have reasonably relied on NYLS’s alleged misrepresentations, as alleged in their fraud and negligent misrepresentation claims, because they had ample information from additional sources and thus the opportunity to discover the then-existing employment prospects at each stage of their legal education through the exercise of reasonable due diligence.
Plaintiffs’ theory of damages, that is, an award of the difference between what they paid for their law degree and an amount representing its ostensibly lesser intrinsic worth because the degree has not suffered as an entrance ticket for the type of jobs plaintiffs hoped to obtain, is entirely too speculative and remote to be quantified as a remedy under the law. This is especially true here since there has been a supervening event, the 2008 Great Recession and its aftermath, which has reached havoc throughout the legal job market and upset the plans of most recent law graduates wherever they attended law school.
In the Thomas M. Cooley Law School action, Judge Gordon J. Quist of the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan dismissed the students’ case. In doing so, the court concluded as follows:
The bottom line is that the statistics provided by Cooley and other law schools in a format required by the ABA were so vague and incomplete as to be meaningless and could not reasonably be relied upon. But, as put in the phrase we lawyers learn early in law school–caveat emptor.
There does not appear to have been an appeal of either ruling. Apparently, the concept of personal responsibility is still alive and well. Well, for lawyers and law students at the least.