Law Students

Can’t Get a Job? Sue Your Law School
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Summary: A number of law school graduates have sued their schools for deceiving them about employment rates.

The legal market is still recovering from the recession. If you graduated in the first several years after the collapse, or if you were in the wrong place when the music stopped in 2008, odds are good you had a hard time finding gainful employment (and you may still be trying to bounce back).


A number of law students have taken matters into their own hands, suing their law schools because they weren’t able to get jobs after graduating. Alumni of Thomas Jefferson in San Diego filed suit back in 2011, arguing the school was less than transparent about its employment statistics. Students from Cooley Law School, Hofstra Law, DePaul University College of Law, Widener University School of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law, and more jumped on the bandwagon, claiming they were lured to attend law school under false pretenses. To date, more than a dozen such suits have been filed.

Law schools are arguing it’s not their fault students can’t read employment data correctly. So far the courts seem to be siding with the schools instead of the graduates. The courts have thrown out a number of the suits altogether, including those against Hofstra Law, Cooley Law School, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, and DePaul University College of Law.

In other instances, the courts have denied the students class-action certification because the members do not have enough in common and many now have jobs. While Widener University School of Law, Thomas Jefferson School of Law and a few others still face litigation, the suits against them have been denied class-action status.

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Last week, a U.S. district-court judge in Florida quoted an earlier decision against New York Law School, saying prospective students at Florida Coastal School of Law are “a sophisticated subset of education consumers, capable of sifting through data and weighing alternatives.”

David Anziska, the Brooklyn lawyer who is representing many of the plaintiffs, argues the law schools misled prospective students. He compares the schools’ actions to those of the for-profit college chains the Obama administration has taken to task for disseminating misleading job data. “For-profit colleges have been held to account for the exact same consumer fraud,” Mr. Anziska says.

In the wake of the recent lawsuits, the American Bar Association has implemented stricter guidelines for law schools who publish their employment numbers. Law schools now report how many graduates have jobs that require a law degree (as opposed to how many students have any kind of employment, including non-law jobs). Schools must also disclose whether those jobs are full-time, part-time, or temporary.

Law school enrollment remains down across the country.




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