Judge allows suit against Widener law school over job stats, cites 'thread of plausibility'
A federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit claiming that Widener University School of Law posted misleading and incomplete job statistics.
Senior U.S. District Judge William Walls of New Jersey allowed the suit to proceed in an opinion (PDF) published last week.
Eight Widener law grads claimed in the suit that the school posted misleading information on its website and disseminated it to third-parties, including the ABA and U.S. News & World Report, in violation of New Jersey and Delaware consumer fraud laws. The school is located in Wilmington, Del., and has a satellite campus in Harrisburg, Pa.
The school had posted online employment rates of 90 percent or more, nine months after graduation, for students in the classes of 2004 through 2010, the complaint says. The plaintiffs say the statistics didn’t take into account whether employment included part-time work and nonlegal positions. The suit also claims the school did not disclose that a sizable percentage of Widener graduates did not respond to the school’s employment surveys.
“Here, an employment rate upwards of 90 percent plausibly gave false assurance to prospective students regarding their legal employment opportunities upon investment in and attainment of a Widener degree,” Walls said. “While the thread of plausibility may be slight, it is still a thread.”
According to the complaint, the average Widener law student graduates with more than $100,000 in student debt.
ABAJournal.com: “12 More Law Schools Sued Over Reporting of Law Grad Employment and Salary Stats”