A lawsuit filed in 2011 against Thomas. M. Cooley Law School will be ruled upon by a federal judge as to whether or not it can proceed very soon. The lawsuit accuses the school of providing false data regarding the graduate employment data, put too much of an emphasis on a degree from the school by not reporting true statistics about how many graduates have a job that require a J.D. and if employment was part-time or full-time.
Graduates of Cooley filed the lawsuit against the school because they claim the job statistics provided by the school persuaded them to attend. The plaintiffs in the suit are asking for $250 million in damages. Close to a dozen other lawsuits have been filed against law schools in the United States since the one against Cooley was filed. In state court, a lawsuit against New York Law School has already been dismissed.
“First guy with his neck out here? I mean, in federal court,” Judge Gordon J. Quist asked. Quist presided over the hearing regarding a motion to dismiss the lawsuit in Grand Rapids, Michigan last week. The lawsuits against the law schools are winding their way through the court system as the legal industry continues to suffer. The National Association for Legal Career Professionals said that the employment rate for the class of 2011 is at 85.6 percent, which is the worst rate since 1994. The NALP also said that just 65.4 percent of those graduates who are employed have a job that requires a law license.
At the hearing on June 5, Quist agreed with the graduates who filed the lawsuit. He did not agree with Cooley, which said that the NALP and the American Bar Association should be sued for the problems.
“Regarding the ABA and NALP standards, they’re a floor not a ceiling,” Judge Quist said.
But Cooley seemed to come out on top when it came to whether or not the school’s advertised job-placement stats violated the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.
“I don’t see that it’s a consumer issue,” Judge Quist said. “The fraud count — I think you’ve got an uphill battle.”
“Even in your own statement you say they wanted to, in essence, get jobs in the legal profession and become high-skilled and high paid lawyers in some law firms.” Judge Quist said. “To me, that’s a business reason as distinguished from a consumer protection reason.”
The associate dean for legal affairs and general counsel at Cooley, James Thelen, said that Cooley follows the American Bar Association and NALP guidelines strictly.