ABA Journal


Law Schools

Saying ‘Labels Matter,’ Judge Permits Law School Alumni Suit Over Job Stats

Dec 4, 2012, 03:07 pm CST


No love for TJ Law School here, but to call a California Superior Court judge's decision denying a motion to dismiss a "landmark ruling" is a little like calling Sarah Palin an intellectual. Each may share a characteristic or two of the same life form as its counterpart, but that's where the similarity ends.

By Pushkin on 2012 12 04, 3:24 pm CST

Love it.

Signed unemployed St Thomas law fl grad.


By Marc of fl on 2012 12 04, 6:40 pm CST

About time a court allowed one of these suits to proceed. Don't care if they complied with the NALPA where is the statute that says that this is enough? If the NALPA is misleading than so are the school's representations.

By Cj on 2012 12 05, 3:53 am CST

remember, law school deans, law school profs and staffers, and ABA personnel: the wheels of justice move slowly, but they do grind fine....

law deans, law deans, what ya gonna do?
what you gonna do when they come for you?

By exposing the law school scam on 2012 12 05, 7:31 am CST

Seems bizarre. Even though her only criticism is an alleged misreporting of "job statistics," and even though she personally had a $60,000 offer within 9 months of graduation (i.e., no real harm) she gets to proceed on the theory that her degree is somehow not as good in the abstract as if the statistics had been accurate, and therefore (and because she subjectively claims she would not have enrolled if the statistics had been accurate) her "damages" are the full amount of tuition and expenses for law school. If this works, she ends up with a free law school education.

By B. McLeod on 2012 12 05, 7:40 am CST

I am an alumni of TJLS and it is a great school and I am not really understanding the Plaintiffs' motivation in this case. Must be the free legal education asserted by B.McLeod.

Not sure why Pushkin says they have "no love" for my school. Where did you go? Better say Harvard.

By Atty Girl on 2012 12 06, 5:50 am CST

I am an alumni of Thomas Jefferson School Of Law, and I cherish my memories of the professors and the great education I received. I am successful (that's my opinion, and I'm sticking to it) and happy I went to TJSL. Some people just want to blame someone else because they have failed in life. In divorce, someone is always blaming the other, Republicans blame the Democrats, and cats the dogs, while dogs blame the fleas, and the fleas blame.... and vice versa. For crying out loud, take some responsibility and succeed or fail on your own efforts.

By David R M on 2012 12 07, 9:24 am CST

#5 - In the context that she had a job offer and under the proposition that her legal education is somehow not worth as much; I believe the judge is looking at this from the lock analogy of a products liability construct.

Regardless if I bought a falsey labeled product and it worked, there is still the harm to the reliability of representation of a product, here being a legal education (yes, I agree it's a long stretch). So if, as the judge states, lables matter; then regardless of her harm, the policy in play is to make the information school provide match the reality they purport to represent.

To date, every arguement by a law school is "no one relies on these stats so you can't blame us". Then why do they produce them? Because ranking systems and students do consider them a factor, just like claims by a manufacturer of goods.

Not sure this is going to win but much like Al Capone and tax evasion; I don't care about the road taken (assuming it's valid), I care about getting the result which is law schools to stop BS'ing prospective students.

By Jasper on 2012 12 07, 3:59 pm CST

I agree with Jasper.

@ Atty Girl and David R M, McL, why are you guys against it? I don't understand, you are lawyers, what did the judge do? he just allowed it to proceed...where is the problem..isn't this the foundation of the US legal system? Let the jury of peers decide if there was harm or not...the same way you guys are arguing here...let a jury argue and reach a conclusion.

I assume everyone here knows Civil Procedure 101 (@ atty girl) if there is enough issue of fact, the case has to move forward... plaintiff does not have to show damages, now, here with certainty etc. Again here, let me refresh your legal memory, that's WHY we have discovery...if we have to prove the case up front then discovery is just an unecessary step.

I don't see why the case should be dismissed on summary judgment.... If you guys are really convinced, I think you guys ought to move to france and practice there. Their procedure civile au tribunal de premiere instance operates as you guys suggest here.

By He Is on 2012 12 07, 4:29 pm CST

I can see a ruling with 2 conclusions:
(1) TJ Law school needs to clean up their stats, be truthful for goodness sake.
(2) No damages to plaintiffs: Reasons:
...(A) employment rates vary from good times to bad, so no reliance upon entering a law school with high employment rates (even if true) can be relied on to even remotely represent actual employment stats 3-4-5 years later.
...(B) assumption of risk: a student entering law school assumes the risk of not being the 1st in the class or even top 10 in the class that would more likely get a higher paying job/employment sought
...(C) 25%-30% of students fail out or drop out of most law schools from the time they start until the time they are supposed to graduate. So, if you rely on stats, already 25%-30% of students entering law school won't meet the graduation stats.
...(D) the suit is to make the law school report stats truthfully, not really to compensate plaintiffs...OK, so once done, its done.
...(E) reasons for students prior successes could be or should be known to be heavily reliant on many factors that can change over 3-4-5-10 years, such as specific faculty members teaching, law firms still functioning that hired TJ grads before, student IQ make-up, lower number of grads in earlier classes, lower number of grads in all law schools combined in earlier years means fewer open jobs now for higher number of grads

By Matters but Doesn't on 2012 12 07, 5:08 pm CST

When I was in school, the central rule on this "labels" foolery was Jacob & Youngs, Inc. v. Kent, 230 N.Y. 239 (1921), in which some jackwipe wanted to waste the court's time because a contract specified pipe made in Reading, and the contractor used equally serviceable pipe made in Cohoes. Either people were just smarter in those days or New York judges are just smarter than California judges.

By B. McLeod on 2012 12 08, 12:43 am CST

TJSL by the Numbers:

Tuition (3 yrs): $
Est. Total Cost (3 yrs): $257,905

Percent Not Working: 38.5%
Percent Working Part-Time (all): 15.2%
Percent Solo: 4.2%

By john on 2012 12 08, 2:18 am CST

Why do some people insist on defending the law schools in this country that outright lied to prospective students? Their lies have caused a lot of misery and will continue to do so for many years. I hope that all of the schools that have used deceptive statistics to bolster enrollment end up eating it big time in court.

By Island Attorney on 2012 12 10, 5:48 am CST

Why do youthful pups with no experience of the world keep jumping on their horses to charge windmills? Their stupidity has caused them a lot of misery and will continue to do so for many years. I hope that all of them will eventually gain the wisdom to deal with the world as it is instead of spending their days trying to make it perfect.

By B. McLeod on 2012 12 10, 6:47 am CST

So the fraud is excused because everyone that got suckered is young and stupid? Using the courts to right a wrong makes them unwise? Are you serious or am I being trolled?

By Island Attorney on 2012 12 10, 7:00 am CST

Society cannot function if made up entirely of perpetual children. The courts of equity cannot function if called upon to spend all their time bailing litigants out of lazy and reckless decisions. For this reason, there has always been a "reasonable reliance" element to a commonlaw fraud claim. No matter how evil or maliciously directed the lie, it is not "fraud" unless an objectively reasonable and prudent person would have relied on it. Apparently the jury will get to decide that issue in this case now (subject to appeal).

However, for decades, the methodology of law school placement statistics has been openly unreliable. When I started school (before the US News "rankings") applicants for the LSAT would get a large, paperback catalog setting forth comparative information on the accredited law schools. Even then, there were "placement" numbers (I believe it was because they were required by ABA), but by reading the narratives, you could tell what the numbers were worth. For example, schools could (and did) count people with any job (legal or fast foods) as "placed," and they were also allowed to (and did) count graduates no longer looking for jobs as "placed." Finally, then as now, the numbers were always based on last year's graduating class, so they would be four years old before applicants accepted today would come out into the hiring market. The "placement" numbers were never rationally usable to predict employment prospects upon graduation, and never will be. Applicants who ignored all this available information and misused the statistics as predictors of employment prospects (or the abstract "value" of their degrees) were simply dumber than a post hole, and completely unreasonable in their claimed "reliance."

By B. McLeod on 2012 12 10, 7:27 am CST

I agree that relying on that information would be pretty stupid.

I just think that these schools should have to go to trial on the issues. That way, the foolish young consumers can have their day in court with snake oil salesman. Hopefully law schools will taught that the cost of falsifying their information or making it misleading could be steep indeed.

By Island Attorney on 2012 12 10, 8:55 am CST

Putting the job statistics to one side, surely those individuals matriculating to this institution realized that they were scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of legal education?

By Yankee on 2012 12 10, 9:22 pm CST

Yankee must be another Harvard grad with his obnoxious remark about my law school.
Guess you were never taught manners either???

By Atty Girl on 2012 12 10, 9:28 pm CST

@19 My comment was not intended to be obnoxious, but rather factual. After all, we're talking about somebody matriculating to a Fourth Tier Law School at a time when the market for new lawyers was already saturated. Surely before a reasonable person invested $200K he or she would want to undertake a bit more due diligence?

The whole thing strikes me as a depressing example of extremely poor judgment.

By Yankee on 2012 12 10, 10:11 pm CST

Love it!!!
Yankee reminds me of when my son says "he doesn't mean to be obnoxious" when he talks back.
Yankee dear, whether you mean to be obnoxious or not, you are. Not "meaning to be obnoxious" still resulted in the same thing:
You were obnoxious.
The article is not focused on the quality of the law school. You just used it as an opportunity to slam my school.
BTW you did not mention your alma mater....

By Atty Girl on 2012 12 10, 11:18 pm CST


1. You proclaim: "You were obnoxious."

If I had any feelings, they'd be hurt.

2. You remind: "The article is not focused on the quality of the law school. "

Thank be to G_d!!

3. You conclude: "You just used it as an opportunity to slam my school."

No. I was not slamming your school; rather, I was questioning the wisdom of those who would matriculate to such an institution in times in which we live.

Listen, if I were the finder of fact in this case, I am not sure where I would come down: In favor of starry-eyed law school aspirant refusing to see an economic reality as plain as the nose on her/his face OR in favor of the not fully candid law school that continues to exjst for the benefit of its tenured facility?

By Yankee on 2012 12 11, 12:20 am CST

To Yankee and He Is and those like you: Arrogance is always an interesting quality because it quickly rouses up the passion of disinterested observers to oppose the arrogance, even if they do not initially care about the issue. Arrogance causes someone to think they are important because of their school, their race, their nationality, their gender, their money, their blue blood ancestors, "superior" intellect, size of house, their job, their popularity & fame, their athletic prowess, their singing prowess, their acting prowess, or any other number of reasons to distinguish oneself from others. You talk as though TJSL is a school from the legal ghetto and not worthy of any respect at all. As you look down your nose, be careful you don't stumble over your arrogannce. We are all humans with aspirations, dreams and desires for happiness and a good life. Each person on the face of the earth is of EQUAL value as every other person, regardless of all the above-mentioned factors which can distinguish ourselves from others. What makes each one of us special is if we bring something good to someone else, not in bragging about ourself or our educational pedigree. So don't brag about yourself because you went to a certain school or for any other reason, and don't disrespect others just because we did not go to your school or some other "great" law school. Did Einstein go to a "great" school? His concepts are remembered, not his educational pedigree. Do we ask where all the great legal minds went to school when analyzing their comments in Supreme Court decisions and other appellate court decisions? No. We simply analyze the comments, which stand or fall because they are worthy, or unworthy. Greatness is great simply because it is great, not because of its pedigree. So get off your high horse, and stop acting as if the world revolves around you and your school, which it doesn't. By the way, you did not even mention which law school you attended. Shows how little pride you really have in your school. Although I am proud to be an alumni of Thomas Jefferson School Of Law, I do not define myself by my law school, or any other school. Nor do I define myself by the fact I am an attorney, nor that I am richer than Buffet and Gates and Facebook founder altogether (just kidding). But if I did have their wealth, I would not have it for long because I would not need it, so that would not define me either. We made a difference in this world if we have helped someone, if we did good for another without asking anything in return, and if we did so without any fanfare or broadcasting or bragging about what we did. So stop bragging about yourself and your supposed great law school, whatever that is. We have more important things in life to do. By the way, He Is, that was a nice touch telling me above that I should go to France. I hear Paris is lovely this time of year. I should take you up on your suggestion. (You know, you really missed the point of my comment above, because I was not commenting on the narrow issue presented by summary judgment. I was commenting on the broad picture, the overall theme of not blaming others for one's own failures, and taking responsibility for one's own success in life.)

By David R M on 2012 12 11, 1:04 am CST

@23 You admonish: "So don’t brag about yourself because you went to a certain school or for any other reason."

In my three posted comments above - - - @28. @20 and @22 - - - I did not "brag about "my school (or even mention it) I was only commenting on the story, above, attempting to put the story in a larger economic and human context.

Finally, David, let me respectfully observe - - in the nicest way possible, of course - - that you appear to be just a wee bit defensive about being an alumnus of Thomas Jefferson School of Law. Rest assured that you can hold your head up high in the knowledge that Thomas Jefferson School of Law is among the top three law schools located San Diego County, California - - something I can't say about my own Alma mater

By Yankee on 2012 12 11, 1:42 am CST

Matahari went to France (indeed, Paris), and only got shot for her trouble.

By B. McLeod on 2012 12 11, 1:43 am CST

Hey Yank(ee):

You still haven't enlightened us all about YOUR law school/successes in life! Why?

Where did you go to law school?
What was your class rank and GPA?
Did you serve on Law Review?
Moot Court?
Jurisprudence awards?
Did you pass the bar the first time?
Did you clerk for a Judge?
Did you clerk during law school?
In how many jurisdictions are you admitted as an Attorney?
Do you work at a top national law firm now?
Are you a Partner at that firm? Equity Partner?

PLEASE let us all in on your extremely superior pedigree.....

And thanks David R.M. for your well written response to Yan(ker). Maybe he will learn to keep his big obnoxious mouth shut next time....or at least think before he posts.

By Atty Girl on 2012 12 11, 3:09 am CST

There you go, Yankee (I think she likes you).

By B. McLeod on 2012 12 11, 8:00 am CST

@27 You observe: "I think she likes you"

I would say so!

By Yankee on 2012 12 11, 11:14 am CST

Yeah....right I'm crushing on Yank(er). I'm sure he is Brad Pitts long lost twin.
Still no info from Yank about HIS law school.
Very interesting....

By Atty Girl on 2012 12 11, 3:53 pm CST

Yes, Brad and I are, indeed, tight.

Regarding your questions, I am very old and you are testing the limits of my feeble memory with your legion of questions. The important thing, however, is that my law school provided me with a degree that has allowed me more than 30 years of gainful, continuous employment in my chosen profession at less than half the cost expressed in nominal dollars of a SINGLE YEAR at Thomas Jefferson. Plus, the economy was not as saturated with lawyers as it is now when I graduated, which made it a value proposition.

With all of that said, Thomas Jefferson is clearly a more 'happening' place than my old, run down alma mater and I am frankly jeolous. The reason I say that is because according to Thomas Jefferson's website students will have an opportunity to intern with the Funk Master himself, George Clinton in the coming year.

Circling back to the story, above, it would seem that the the ability to rub elbows with George Clinton would more than offset any theoretical harm associated with misunderstanding concerning past attorney placement statistics.

By Yankee on 2012 12 11, 4:55 pm CST

Thanks for your response Yankee.
Still no response as to your law school? Weird. Most assuredly it is not Ivy League.
I went to Pepperdine for undergrad. Maybe you can rip on that next.
Hope you learned a lesson here: think before you type!
Time for me to go practice law now.....

By Atty Girl on 2012 12 11, 5:18 pm CST

@31 "Thanks for your response Yoda . . . Hope you learned a less here: think before you type!"

My lesson I learned.

In the future, think before I type, will I.

By Yankee on 2012 12 11, 6:43 pm CST

Yankee: I appreciate your self restraint. I expected a tough hard defense, but you were satisfied with a mild approach. Kudos to you for your self restraint. Now, Atty Girl, leave the poor guy alone. I think we have all made our point. We love our school, and that should be very clear by now. This is really not about personal disputes or personal arguments. What I can't figure out is what does Yoda have to do with being a Yankee?

By David R M on 2012 12 11, 7:00 pm CST

Seems to me that Yankee's writing skills and careful arguments tell us all we need to know about the quality of his education and "Atty Girl"s inability to understand his point and poor grammar say all we need to know about hers. I know which attorney I would hire.

Well played, Yankee. I hope you went to my law school.

By OneElle on 2012 12 11, 8:28 pm CST


Boy you're comment really hurt me bad, and boo boo mean stuff you say hurt Atty Girl in the hart. Me so sad and no happy now. Me goin cry all the nite longgg.

Nonetheless, I really don't think I would be the right attorney for you since my specialty is securities litigation and I do not specialize in criminal law defense.

Peace out!

By AttyGirl on 2012 12 12, 2:23 am CST

Add a Comment

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.