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NY Judge Skeptical That Brooklyn Law School Committed Fraud With Its Job Data
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The would-be Law School killers, Jesse Strauss and David Anziska, who are after 14 parallel cases against law schools for misinforming students on post-grad employment statistics, have with attorney Frank Raimond run up against more trouble with their latest attempt. Judge David Schmidt of Kings County, N.Y., presented himself as “deeply skeptical” that the employment data amounted to fraud, as the prosecutors claim. On August 21, at a hearing debating whether or not to dismiss the case against Brooklyn Law School, the judge was hard to convince and unimpressed with the prosecutors.

Brooklyn Law School gave data to prospective students showing that 91.3 percent of its 2009 graduates were employed within nine months after graduation. That statistic did not clarify what percentage of those employments required a JD, which wasn’t so high, and how many required no a JD, or were outside of law altogether, which was too high.

“Where is the basis for a fraud argument” Schmidt asked the plaintiffs. “You have generalized industry statistics. Where do you see that they have deceived the public?”

  
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The defense wonders the same thing, claiming that they, like most law schools, have created their employment figures based on the standards and guidelines set forth by the American Bar Association and the National Association for Law placement.

The defense attorney Russell Jackson went further to claim that the figures were immaterial because they were “future predictions” for how things might look for future grads four years down the line, and that they were therefore not actionable in fraud cases in New York State.

Schmidt was not easy on the defense either. “If they said 91 percent and it’s was really 80 percent, would that be fraud?” asked the judge, as reported by Law.com. “No matter what they said, it’s not material? Is that what you’re alleging?”

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When Jackson agreed that he was alleging just that, Schmidt replied that “I may not go to a law school if I know that with the 91.3 percent success rate, a lot of graduates are not in legal jobs but are flipping burgers.”

The prosecutions most intense attempt was to set an analogous precedent in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit’s ruling in Gotlin v. Lederman, when New York cancer doctors had claimed a “success rate” of greater than 90 percent in treating pancreatic cancer, failing to mention that the 90 percent included tumors that shrunk or stayed the same size, not merely the tumors that had actually been cured.



Schmidt responded that it was a “completely different case in my book.”

“You’re really pleading a broad, general statement” said Schmidt, denying that Raimond had specified what he meant by fraud.



 

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