Law Schools

Judge refuses to toss suit over law school's employment stats; trial is set for March

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A California judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit claiming that Thomas Jefferson School of Law inflated its employment statistics.

In a Dec. 28 decision (PDF), Judge Joel Pressman of San Diego allowed the students’ claims and set a March trial date, Above the Law reports. “Never before has a law school been forced to actually stand trial for allegedly inflating its employment statistics,” the blog says. “This is historic.”

The four plaintiffs allege the school violated California law regarding unfair business practices, false advertising and consumer protection, and committed the torts of intentional fraud, negligent misrepresentation and negligence.

Pressman said there are triable issues of fact as to whether the four plaintiffs reasonably relied on the employment statistics in deciding whether to attend the school, and whether the statistics were inaccurately reported.

“Plaintiffs have all stated they believed that the employment statistics in U.S. News & World Report reflected the status of graduates who either worked in a professional capacity, worked as attorneys or worked in law-related jobs,” Pressman wrote.

“The ‘methodology’ section in U.S. News & World Report is not necessarily dispositive,” Pressman continued. “It states: ‘Employed graduates includes those reported as working or pursuing graduate degrees.’ This does not necessarily render plaintiffs’ interpretation unreasonable. A reasonable consumer would not believe employment figures included any and all employment, which would render the figure meaningless in the context of a legal education. A reasonable consumer expects the employment figure to include graduates who work in law-related jobs.”

Lawyers for the students told Above the Law they plan to present evidence that the school reported different numbers to U.S. News & World Report and to the National Association for Law Placement. The lawyers also allege the school had a practice of reporting graduates as employed as long as they had any job at any time since graduation.

Related article: “No class certification in job stats suit against Thomas Jefferson Law School, judge rules”

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