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Federal Court Dismisses Employment Statistics Suit Against Law School

09 August 2012
A federal judge has dismissed a class-action lawsuit brought against Thomas M. Cooley Law School (“Cooley”) by twelve of its graduates. The plaintiffs alleged that Cooley, a for-profit law school, deceived, defrauded, and misled them regarding Cooley graduates’ employment prospects. Specifically, the plaintiffs claimed that the school made false representations about the “percentage of graduates employed” and the “average starting salary for all graduates” in an annual employment report and salary survey of recent graduates.
Federal Court Dismisses Employment Statistics Suit Against Law School

The case against Cooley is one of more than a dozen lawsuits that have been filed against law schools on similar grounds. One of those cases, against New York Law School, was dismissed in March.

 In dismissing the suit against Cooley, Judge Gordon J. Quist of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan ruled:

 (1) Michigan’s Consumer Protection Act does not apply to the purchase of a legal education to attain employment because a law degree is purchased for a business or commercial purpose (e.g., obtaining employment as a lawyer), and such transactions are not protected by the Act;

 (2) the employment rate reported by the school was not objectively false, even though it did not specifically state that it included employment that was temporary, part-time, or in positions for which a law degree was not required; and

 (3) while the average starting salary reported was “objectively untrue”, any reliance on such information by prospective law students was unreasonable.  Prospective students, the court said, should not have relied solely on “two bare-bones statistics” that were “inconsistent, confusing, and inherently untrustworthy” in making a decision about whether to enroll at Cooley.

Michelle Tellock

Michelle Tellock,

Washington, D.C.

Alex Dreier

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