Here's the opinion by Judge Gordon Quist dismissing the lawsuit against Cooley Law School. The opinion gives us a glimpse of the plaintiffs:
Plaintiff John T. MacDonald is an attorney in Michigan, who opened his own law firm. Chelsea Pejic, Shawn Haff, Carrie Kalbfleisch, and Dan Guinn have also opened their own law firms. A few other Plaintiffs have found meaningful legal work, while others did not. Shane Hobbs has worked as a substitute teacher and day laborer at a golf course since graduation. Danny Wakefield manages the deliveries of telephone books. Steve Baron is unemployed.
In holding that the Michigan Consumer Protection Act does not offer the plaintiffs relief, Judge Quist opined on why people go to law school:
Plaintiffs did not purchase a Cooley legal education so that they could leisurely read and understand Supreme Court Reports, or to provide legal services for themselves or family members. Rather, Plaintiffs purchased a legal education in order to make money as lawyers so that they could live a lifestyle that they believed (perhaps naively) would be more pleasing to them. This is a business purpose. Of course, making more money can lead to happiness, or not. For example, purchasing a new woodworking machine might make the owner of a small furniture company more productive, more money, and, therefore, happier, but the purchase is still for business or commercial rather than for personal purposes. Even the president of a major company of one type or another may receive personal pleasure from the acquisition of another company or machine, but this would not change the fundamental purpose of the purchase – “primarily for business or commercial.” Plaintiffs “intended” their legal employment to subsequently better their personal circumstances, These better “personal circumstances” would be attained through their work as lawyers, i.e. a business. See Baptichon v. Thomas M. Cooley Law Sch., No. 1:09-cv-562, 2009 WL 5214911, at*6-*7 (W.D. Mich. Dec. 28, 2009) (finding, in an action by a former Cooley student against Cooley that the “Plaintiff attended Cooley (i.e., purchased its services) so that he could obtain work and start his own business,” and therefore, the MCPA did not apply because the plaintiff purchased the services for a business or commercial purpose). Likewise, this Court holds that the Complaint does not allege a claim under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act.
Judge Quist also enters the debate about law school and the legal job market with some "in hindsight" advice for the plaintiffs and for those considering law school: "Plaintiffs and prospective students should have approached their decision to enter into law school with extreme caution given the size of the investment." Specifically, "With red flags waiving and cautionary bells ringing, an ordinary prudent person would not have relied on the statistics to decide to spend $100,000 or more."
The bottom line is that the statistics provided by Cooley and other law schools in a format required by the ABA were so vague and incomplete as to be meaningless and could not reasonably be relied upon. But, as put in the phrase we lawyers learn early in law school– caveat emptor.