New York Law Students Suing School For Not Handing Them Jobs

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One of the benefits of law school, according to middle-class parents everywhere, is that three years of hellishly hard work and thousands upon thousands of dollars in debt will pay off with a job at a fancy firm with $100K to start. We were under the impression that this is usually an implicit understanding, not explicitly stated by law schools themselves. But three New York Law School graduates are suing the school for just that, alleging that NYLS told them that 95% of grads get a job right out of school -- and the number isn't true.

Alexandra Gomez-Jimenez, Scott Tiedke and Katherine Cooper claim that the school perpetrates a "systemic, ongoing fraud that is ubiquitous in the legal education industry and threatens to leave a generation of law students in dire financial straits."

The suit alleges that the school lied in its claim in materials for prospective students that "the overwhelming majority of its students -- 90-95 percent -- secure employment within nine months of graduation."

Quite the claim. Interestingly enough, all three plaintiffs are currently employed. Jesse Strauss, one of the lawyers in the suit, told us that "I don't know exactly why that happened, we were approached by a lot of different people. Everyone else is afraid that if they do this they have even less of a chance of getting jobs."

He also said that "we don't know the actual employment numbers, but we suspect that they're shockingly low." According to the NYLS website, the school's employment stats range from 84% to to 92% of graduates employed, based on four different metrics. For 2010, the numbers looked like this, based on 95% of the graduating class reporting (out of a class of 481):

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The problem, according to the suit, is less the number itself and more that a lot or most of those employed people didn't end up with actual law jobs, which NYLS allegedly did not make clear. "What they're supposed to be talking about is jobs where a J.D. is required or preferred," Strauss said.

And so some students are graduating with a ton of debt and few job prospects in their industry. Sounds like every other type of higher education in the country. The suit was filed this week for $200 million. The dean of New York Law School, Richard A. Matasar, released this statement: "These claims are without merit and we will vigorously defend against them in court."

Lawyers versus lawyers! Is it comforting or awful to know that law school graduates are subject to the same economic woes as everyone else?

[rgray@villagevoice.com] [@_rosiegray]

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3 comments
Mailaccount63
Mailaccount63

Rosie Gray <you <they="" a="" absolute="" administrators,="" an="" are="" cash="" cows="" do="" employment="" etc. ="" for="" glut="" gray: ="" greatly="" have="" head="" in="" inflating="" law="" legal="" misleading="" miss="" misservice="" numbers. ="" of="" point. ="" profession. ="" professionals. ="" professors,="" readers.="" regarding="" rosie="" sand="" schools="" students="" the="" their="" to="" totally="" we="" you="" your=""></you>

Okarmalaw
Okarmalaw

As a fellow lawyer since 2008, I feel their pain.  While I wouldn't necessarily put my name on the docket sheet, I hope they win, because the stats that law schools pad borders on fraudulent and tortuously deceptive.  Furthermore, as all law students know, 1-2 years is all you need to be ready to study for the bar exam. (Leonardo DiCaprio passed the bar after studying for a few weeks, see Catch Me If You Can).  The last year to year and a half is simply a way for law schools across the country to suck an extra $40,000 out of you.  If you gave every law student in the country the choice between spending another 80k or taking the bar after one year of school, which do you think they'd choose? Instead, they are forced into a 3 year institution with a dangling carrot that is nothing more than a rotten apple. Good luck litigious law students!!! You'll never win because you'd cripple the entire industry, and your fate is being decided by other lawyers who went to law school for the price of one of our semesters, and probably already paid off their student loans, but i'm rooting for you.

Peter O'Karma, Esq.  www.MyBostonLaw.com

Dayan Hochman
Dayan Hochman

Two things about this article shock me.  First: the sarcastic and belittling tone in which it's written, and second: the fact that this issue is anything new that law school graduates are "suffering the same economic woes as everyone else."  What hardly anyone knows is that law schools all over the country have been lying about their post-graduation employment statistics while simultaneously increasing tuition costs and beefing up incoming class numbers is something that has been going on since before the economic downturn of 2008.

The problem can be singlehandedly traced to both law schools and the unabashed greed of overseeing entities such as the American Bar Association and the Law School Admission Council.  Although the longtime surplus of new law grads should be old news, the truth is this information is being withheld from the people who need to know it most: new students and law school hopefuls who pursue a law degree in hopes of securing financial stability for themselves in the form of a legal career.  I know that for many, including myself, we didn't realize the sad truth until we were firmly entrenched in our second or third year of law school.  

Although the problem is widespread, schools such as New York Law School (NYLS) are particularly putting their graduates at a disadvantage because of their low rankings and exceedingly expensive costs, especially in high cost of living environments, such as New York City.  Although the cost of yearly tuition for NYLS is nearly on par with the cost of attendance at much higher ranked schools such as Columbia, NYLS is consistently ranked amongst the third (and lowest) tier of law schools in the country. Although for many, schools like NYLS are the only hope for those who's less than perfect academic records and average performance on law school admissions tests put them beyond the reach of the ivy leagues. The fact of the matter is Columbia grads have a much better chance of snagging that now rare job in the legal sector than anyone else, especially in places like NYC where law grads out number available jobs 12 to 1. (See http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2011/...

It is my opinion that not only does this suit have merit, but it should be expanded to include law schools (especially lower ranked unaccredited ones) all over the country who are taking advantage of thousands of people looking only to improve themselves and their lives by pursuing a career in the law. Long gone are the glory days that the attainment of a J.D. degree meant automatic initiation into the $100K a year club, and with them the ability for most students to pay back graduate loans equal to monthly mortgage costs. I think that it's apparent that we law school grads, just like everyone else, have also been introduced into the school of hard knocks.  The difference, however, is that we recent law grads have more than just Congress to blame.

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