There are many ways to express unhappiness with one's law school experience. Of particular Michigan note, a former Cooley Law School student chose to unleash a blistering attack online, to which Cooley has now responded with a lawsuit for defamation. Meanwhile, in California, a disillusioned honors graduate of Thomas Jefferson School of Law (TJSL) has chosen a more traditional medium -- a legal complaint. In it, she has asked for compensatory damages in excess of $50,000,000, punitive damages, and injunctive relief, and asks to represent a class of “[a]ll persons who attended TJSL within the statutory period” — about 2,300 individuals. Above the Law says the complaint is "a concise, footnoted indictment of the American legal-educational industrial complex." From the complaint:
1. This dispute arises out of the fraudulent and deceptive business practices of
Defendant Thomas Jefferson School of Law (“TJSL”). For more than 15 years, TJSL has churned out law school graduates, many of whom have little or no hope of working as attorneys at any point in their careers.
2. TJSL’s average student indebtedness, more than $135,000, is among the highest in the nation. And its bar passage is consistently lower than 50 percent, well below the average in California.
3. In order to attract students despite these dismal figures, TJSL has adopted a practice of misrepresenting its post-graduation employment statistics. For instance, during a deep economic recession affecting the legal industry on a widespread basis, TJSL reports that the median salary of its graduates has remained constant between 2006 and 2011 (even though the average salary of attorneys nationwide has seen a dramatic decline in recent years).
TJSL has now filed its answer to the lawsuit. From TJSL's brief:
Plaintiff's complaint effectively contends that she should not have been admitted to any law school tht would hbe accepted her due to the bleak job market casused by the poort economy and glud of lawyers. The wrongful act of TJSL, according to plaintiff, is the fact that TJSL submitted to USNWR [US News and Word Report] the same categories of employment statistics as every other accredited law school in the country. Plaintiff does not plead any specifics as to TJSL's factual data being false -- because it wasn't. Instead, she pleads that she relied exclusively or primarily onthe data in a summary chart in a popular magazine, misunderstood it, mande no further inqurieis, and then spend tends of thousands of dollars on her legal education. Then, her complaint implies, she made no effort to ascertain her actual employment prospects prior to hitting the job market post-graduation, only to then discover no full-time position awaiting her.