Around the Blawgosphere: Suit Against Avvo Dismissed; Ex-Associate Starts Book on Cross-Country Walk

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Was NYLS Suit Dismissal a Win for Law Schools?

At Balkinization, Washington University law professor Brian Tamanaha (whose book Failing Law Schools comes out in July) wonders if the dismissal of a lawsuit against New York Law School by nine of its graduates is really a victory.

Tamanaha said that the suit was dismissed based on Judge Melvin Schweitzer’s conclusion that the students should not have believed NYLS’ claim that 92.6 percent of its 2008 graduates were employed within nine months of graduation, and that the “midrange of full-time private sector salaries” was $71,250-$160,000. “No one should celebrate a judicial ruling that representations by a law school cannot be relied upon by reasonable people. Law schools, after all, are educational institutions charged with training competent and ethical lawyers. In the opinion of the judge, people should view law schools with the same skepticism they view used car dealers—beware—investigate—double check claims about mileage per gallon and blue book value.”

Tamanaha also expressed dismay at how schools appeared to juke their employment stats in this year’s U.S. News & World Report ranking. Eighteen schools had employment rates that surpassed their bar-pass rates by more than 10 percent, he wrote. “There is only one possible solution: Only full-time ‘JD required’ jobs should be counted and advertised by law schools. Any other category is susceptible to manipulation and will be exploited by law schools to conceal poor employment results.”

Suit Over Avvo Rating Dismissed

Santa Clara University School of Law’s Eric Goldman reports at Technology & Marketing Law Blog that a suit filed by a Florida lawyer against lawyer-rating directory Avvo was dismissed as a strategic lawsuit against public participation. Larry Joe Davis Jr. said in his 2010 suit that “Avvo has a routine business practice of publishing false and misleading information regarding attorneys, and by doing so attempts to coerce their participation in exchange for improving (making accurate) their Avvo.com listing and rating.”

The suit was filed in Florida, but Seattle-based Avvo invoked a clause in its user agreement to have the case transferred to Washington state. Under Washington’s anti-SLAPP legislation, Avvo will get its attorney fees plus a $10,000 bonus.

“The key to this ruling is that Washington’s anti-SLAPP law is more robust that Florida’s mostly toothless anti-SLAPP protection,” Goldman wrote. “Had Avvo not been able to transfer the case to Washington and get its choice-of-law provision enforced, it probably still would be litigating the case and burning its cash. This story turned out well for Avvo, but the case nevertheless highlights the potential deficiencies of some states’ anti-SLAPP laws. This is another reason why we need federal anti-SLAPP protection.”

Walking Book

Tyler Coulson, the former Sidley Austin associate who spent eight months of 2011 walking from Delaware to San Diego, posted an excerpt of a book he’s writing about the experience on his eponymous blog. The post doesn’t indicate whether Coulson has found a publisher. The excerpt describes his experience in getting his dog, Mabel, who walked with him for the duration, over the Patuxent River bridge in Maryland.

Mabel “stopped at the end of the pavement, where it met the grated bridge, and would move no farther. When I called for her to come out and gave a little tug on the leash, she would raise one paw and move it out over the bridge, but as soon as her paw was over that uncertain bridge, she would pull her paw back to the pavement and shift uneasily between her four paws. She looked down at the water below the bridge and then back at me, then she would try again but again would pull back her paw and shift uneasily. She knew that we were headed across that bridge, and she knew that I was definitely heading across the bridge, and she began to whine because she thought I would leave her.”

Don’t Look

At The Undeniable Ruth, Phoenix solo Ruth Carter notes that multistate bar exam results will soon be coming in the mail, and advises bar-takers not to look at them. “Arizona sends out MBE scores five weeks after the bar exam and posts the list of who passed 10 weeks after the bar exam,” Carter writes. “Do you want to find out that you’re in the lower half and have to wait another five weeks to see if your essay and performance test scores are high enough to give you a passing score?”

Carter says that’s the route she took herself. “My job was done when I turned my test in,” she wrote. “There was nothing more I could do. Thinking about the results was not going to change anything. After I learned I passed the bar, I did open my MBE envelope and saw that I performed above average. I still think I was less stressed and detached by not knowing any part of my score in advance.”

Carter also says she didn’t look at her own grades for the last 2½ years of law school. “I still don’t know how I did in law school except that I passed every class.”

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