On Friday, a Michigan court dismissed a lawsuit brought by former students of Cooley Law School accusing the law school of misrepresenting graduate job placement statistics. The lawsuit, which sought $250 million in damages, was dismissed as the court did not accept the arguments of the plaintiffs that purchasing a legal degree come under the protection of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.
In fact, Judge Gordon Quist held that the job numbers in question were “literally true” and it was immaterial whether they differentiated between recent grads in legal jobs vs. non-legal jobs. The court also added that the plaintiffs had “unreasonably relied upon the representations” in making their decisions to join the law school.
Though on the earlier June 5 hearing on Cooley Law’s motion to dismiss the suit, the judge did not agree with many of the contentions of Cooley Law School, the case principally rested upon the question of whether the students merited the protection of the MCPA or not. When Cooley lawyers had argued that the lawsuits should in fact be aimed at the ABA and the NALP, the judge had dismissed such contentions and said, “Regarding the ABA and NALP standards, they’re a floor and not a ceiling.”
However, even in the last hearing the judge had given sufficient indication of his thoughts to Jesse Strauss who represented the students. He had said, “I don’t see that it’s a consumer issue … The fraud count – I think you’ve got an uphill battle.” Quist had further told the lawyer for the plaintiffs, “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 … To me, that’s a business reason as distinguished from a consumer protection reason.”
The judge ultimately found that the decision to join a law school is in the nature of a business and commercial investment and not a consumer purchase for personal use. Hence, the former students did not merit protection of the MCPA and the case was dismissed.