Thursday, March 22, 2012

The myth of the sophisticated law student

Here's the key passage in Judge Melvin Schweitzer's decision, granting New York Law School's motion to the dismiss the class action suit brought against it by nine graduates for publishing misleading employment and salary data:

The court does not view these post-graduate employment statistics to be misleading in a material way for a reasonable consumer acting reasonably. By anyone's definition, reasonable consumers -- college graduates -- seriously considering law schools are a sophisticated subset of education consumers, capable of sifting through data and weighing alternatives before making a decision regarding their post-college options, such as applying for professional school. These reasonable consumers have available to them any number of sources of information to review when making their decisions.
The statistics to which the court refers are overall employment rates, nine months after graduation, hovering around 90% for the NYLS classes of 2005-2010, and salary statistics which, for the classes of 2005 and 2006, didn't disclose the percentage of graduates reporting salaries, but included the purportedly limiting caveat "based upon salaries reported."  Although the school did start disclosing what percentage of graduates the salary statistics were based on beginning with the class of 2007 (that is, in materials published no earlier than the spring of 2008), it's important to note that eight of the nine plaintiffs enrolled in NYLS prior to 2008, that is, prior to NYLS' disclosure of this obviously crucial piece of information.

Judge Schweitzer's argument, in a nutshell, is that:

(a) Potential law students are sophisticated consumers of education.

(b) NYLS didn't affirmatively represent that the nine-month graduate employment rate included only legal employment.

(c) NYLS didn't affirmatively represent that the average salary statistics it published were statistically representative.

(d) Because potential law students are sophisticated consumers, and have various sources of information available to them other than the representations made to them by law schools regarding the schools' employment and salary data, they know or should know that employment and salary statistics such as those presented by NYLS would be misleading if taken at face value.

(e) Therefore, potential law students who take such statistics at face value are being unreasonable, and, since New York consumer protection law protects only reasonable consumers, it doesn't protect the plaintiffs in this instance.

It's hardly an exaggeration to say the judge accepted a "it's your fault if you took us at our word" defense on the part of NYLS.  The judge seems to have taken the view that, as long as a law school doesn't literally lie, factually true statements that might well be expected to mislead an "ordinary" reasonable consumer -- and would therefore constitute actionable conduct -- should not mislead a "sophisticated" consumer, and should therefore not give rise to legal liability. In other words, the judge appears to be holding potential law students to a higher standard than ordinary consumers, because they are college graduates, and therefore "capable of sifting through data and weighing alternatives" in a way that at least impliedly grants them less protection under consumer protection laws than would be given to less educated people.

It goes without saying that, in the usual manner of such things, the judge provides no evidence for the assertion that potential law students are (or should be?) less prone to getting ripped off by slick salespeople than their less educated brethren.  It's simply asserted as self-evident that this is the case, which one would think would raise the question of how exactly law schools manage to enroll tens of thousands of obviously "unreasonable" consumers of professional education every year, given the wonders of our information age. (It also goes without saying that this question remains unraised).

The judge is essentially taking the perspective of this commenter:

[Law schools] expected [students] to understand the "contract" involved in law school admission and matriculation. How?

They expected you to read all the info, not just from their schools, and ask questions--especially when you noticed discrepancies or didn't understand or weren't sure about something you read or heard.

They expected you to talk to lawyers practicing the kind of law you want to practice--and not just alumni of the schools you were considering, to learn their perspective on the politics of hiring and promotions, what the day-to-day work is like (does it match your expectations? how hard is it to work 70-80 hours a week, really?), and what they see as the future of the field.

They expected you to take an active part in your career development, to make a point of doing well in interviews, to conduct a comprehensive job search (not refuse to interview with any firm outside of BigLaw).

So it comes back to greed--and the willful blindness it inspires in prospective law school students.
I characterized this position as "if you had been thinking like a lawyer, you would have known lawyers would lie to you," which non-plussed the commenter, who replied in high dudgeon (what does that mean anyway?):

No, you are wrong. If prospective law students would simply adhere to the old warning "buyer beware" -- and not be blinded by their need to believe they are smarter and more special than everyone else, and therefore are guaranteed first-job placement success at a BigLaw firm -- they would do a thorough job investigating their options for law school. The result of these investigation might lead them to determine that they should not go to law school at all, and instead pursue a different career. (I'm starting to think this may be true for you, too, as you seem to be a frustrated academic.)

Your cynicism is sickening. Lying is not the default communication mode for lawyers or law school administrators. 
I have no real idea of the extent to which lying is the default communication mode for lawyers -- like almost all legal academics I know very little about lawyers -- but I do know a lot about law school administrators, and in fact when it comes to the issues discussed in this blog, lying is the default communication mode for a very large number of such people.  In any case, a soon-to-be unemployed Columbia law student's response gets to the point, although with less delicacy and circumspection than is considered proper among the Quality:

Are you aware that [prospective law students] actually, mentally CANNOT do this? It's not a matter of being smart. The optimism bias is hardwired into our DNA. The rational actor model has been thoroughly discredited. Pick up a fucking newspaper.
Yes, precisely. Judge Schweitzer is living in the comfortable fantasy world of "rational actors," where reasonable people decide on reasonable courses of action in a reasonably reasonable way. Out in the real world, "the market" for places in law school consists in large part of inexperienced, unworldly, non-cynical, irrepressibly optimistic young people who have been socialized successfully to believe that law school personnel operate by a more exalted code than that found among carnival barkers and used car salesmen. In other words, people who have not yet learned to "think like a lawyer," i.e., a cynical pessimist who takes it for granted that

(a) In an "arms-length" transaction somebody is going to try to rip you off at least up to the very limits of the law, if not well beyond it; and

(b) Everything is an arms-length transaction.

Their bad, as Judge Schweitzer might as well have said. They should have learned to think like lawyers before they went to law school.


  1. A reasonable person would do more than look at the numbers the seller of the product is providing before signing on the dotted line for $150K.

    Let's be serious here... all law students have responsibility here. Not total responsibility, but enough that there will not be a successful suit.

  2. Where are the other sources of numbers though?

  3. What is the most astounding is that the judge applied the wrong standard (on a motion to dismiss) and the response to the navel gazing prawf blawg world is silence. I cannot believe there aren't more posts pointing out this major, major flaw.

  4. What about the fact that a law school is supposed to be held to a higher standard of integrity and honesty?

  5. Goddamnit I just flat out love this blog so much. SO much.

  6. For those commenting that the Judge applied the wrong standard on a motion to dismiss, please review NY CPLR 3211(a)(1).

    Its ok to dislike the decision, but the judge did not apply the wrong decision.

    Read the decision. Read the law.

  7. The myth of the sophisticated law student is related to the overabundance of law schools, and higher education generally.

    Most people considering NY law school aren't smart enough to sift through the data and figure out hey, 90% employed making 160K, yet all these partners at these high paying firms seem to be from Harvard and Columbia, something's amiss.

    But maybe law students should be that smart. Maybe we just don't need that many lawyers whose previous academic achievements were so low. Personally, I don't put too much stock in academic achievements, but there are clearly too many lawyers (not enough jobs) and too many law school places (not enough jobs), so limiting admission to the smartest, as best as we can measure, and closing down places like NYLS is the only reasonable thing to do.

  8. Glad you dumped that prior post and the comments thereto. Everybody missed your point.

  9. 2:27- let's not make him dump this one too.

  10. I explained the judge's opinion to my non-college educated wife who holds down a good job with no debt. We specifically discussed the "sophisticated consumer" argument championed by the court.

    The first thing out of her mouth was: "there are hundreds of thousands of you with high debt and no job. It is not even remotely reasonable to believe that ALL of you could be expected to diligently research the entire profession you have not even entered yet and expect to get good information, sophisticated consumer or not."

    This is right after she said that there was no way to check the law school numbers and their veracity prior to 2010 before the scambloggers came to prominence.

    Is there an equal protection violation if this particular sub-class of consumers is not protected by consumer protection law because of their status as "sophisticated."

    If I sell a car with two (of eight) pistons made of wax to a mechanic am I protected from liability because he should have known that the engine would seize because he was a mechanic and hence "sophisticated?" Should he have taken the engine apart and inspected the blatant and hidden defect before purchase? Especially when it causes him damage after driving it two feet? Am I somehow relieved of liability? I think not.

  11. LawProf is right that many law students are so optimistic that they won't look cynically at what the law schools say. But that suggests a broader problem with his argument: In the past, at least, law students have been so optimistic that most of them don't look at what the law schools say period. Arguments that law students are detrimentally relying on the figures are problematic because relatively few students actually study the figures closely enough to rely on them. It's scandalous that the law schools are not being forthcoming. But how many law students are so reasonable that they actually looked at the law school employment numbers on the school websites and based their decisions on a close reading of what the websites said?

    1- Once you have their money ... never give it back.
    2 - Never pay more for an acquisition than you have to.
    3 - Never allow family to stand in the way of opportunity.
    4 - A man is only worth the sum of his possessions. (From Enterprise, episode "Acquisition"; sloppy script-writing, as rule 5 - (see above) was already given in DS9)
    6 - Keep your ears open.
    7 - Small print leads to large risk.
    8 - Opportunity plus instinct equals profit.
    9 - Greed is eternal.
    10 - Anything worth doing is worth doing for money.
    11 - A deal is a deal ... until a better one comes along.
    12 - A contract is a contract is a contract (but only between Ferengi).
    18 - A Ferengi without profit is no Ferengi at all.
    22 - Satisfaction is not guaranteed.
    25 - Never place friendship above profit.
    27 - A wise man can hear profit in the wind.
    33 - Nothing is more important than your health--except for your money.
    38 - There's nothing more dangerous than an honest businessman.
    44 - Never make fun of a Ferengi's mother ... insult something he cares about instead.
    47 - It never hurts to suck up to the boss.
    55 - Peace is good for business.
    66 - War is good for business.
    78 - She can touch your lobes but never your latinum.
    80 - Profit is its own reward.
    82 - Never confuse wisdom with luck.
    85 - Expand, or die.

  13. How about the fact that NYLS reported the employment statistics of responding students?

    To someone who hasn't gone through law school, this means nothing. This is because law school is one big sorting process, with the students who "don't make the cut" being made invisible.

    One out of every two law students will be in the bottom 50% of the class. Almost every student will burdened with a tuition that is based on an assumed salary that only the top 10% of students will be able to earn.

    Further, if the most pessimistic estimates are to be believed, 40-50% won't even get a chance to be lawyers.

    Sure, NYLS avoided a law suit. But its reputation can't be doing that well.

  14. 89 - Don't trust a man wearing a better suit than your own.
    90 - The bigger the smile, the sharper the knife.
    101 - Never ask when you can take.
    103 -Good customers are as rare as latinum -- treasure them.
    105 - There is no substitute for success.
    106 - Free advice is seldom cheap.
    108 -Keep your lies consistent.
    110 - The riskier the road, the greater the profit.
    111 - Win or lose, there's always Hyperian beetle snuff.
    113 - Home is where the heart is ... but the stars are made of latinum.
    115 - Every once in a while, declare peace. It confuses the hell out of your enemies.
    117 - Beware of the Vulcan greed for knowledge.
    118 - The flimsier the product, the higher the price.

  15. I wonder how the quoted commenter would try to defend publishing salary distributions based on a sample.  This may not be legally fraudulent, but the intent is to mislead. I cannot imagine that anybody couldt possibly think otherwise.  

    So yes, the law schools are lying.  Say what you will about the students and what their responsibiltiies are or should be, the law schools are still lying.  Lawprof's cynicism is appropriate.

  16. "they know or should know that employment and salary statistics such as those presented by NYLS would be misleading if taken at face value."


  17. Reminder, the federal government blog wants to hear from you on student loans

  18. The crux of Judge Melvin Schweitzer's decision:

    Any moron knows that throwing $150K to attend NYLS is a horrendous decision in this economy. Even the bum on the street. Shame on you college kid who thought you could beat the odds.

  19. Its okay. Even if the lawsuits fail, 50% of the current law schools can still be destroyed through persistent exposure of the scam. They live off the teat of student loans, but that requires individuals to actually take the LSAT and then take out a loan.

    Once it permeates the general public that this is not a good idea (and it looks like it is already doing so by recent numbers y/o/y on LSAT examinees), the Law Schools will lose their sustenance.

    It can feasibly be done within 5 years

  20. This was a good opinion. The case was bad. The others may be better. But this one was not good. And the judge addressed the standard of review thoroughly.

  21. Should we also say when one buys a car, that if one has purchased a car before, we should know better if a used car sales man violates the lemon laws?

    Its bad law from a legal perspective. Essentially bad actors can get off by saying you could have trolled around for the information. We have consumer protection laws precisely because people should not have to do that.

    Bruh Rabbit

  22. More analogy

    Think about about it from a securities law analogy: if I remember that area well enough- if a company buries critical information in the foot note that's a basis for questioning whether even investors (even those who have invested before) would have understood it.

    Again, if we are too take this judge seriously, all one need do is prove that one could have poked around, read the news media, etc, to avoid liability.

    Its a really bad and ultimately nonsensical position.

  23. The judge was wrong on multiple levels. As others have pointed out, it is unreasonable to expect a non-lawyer to cynically presume that that other human beings are never more honest than they are legally required to be. It takes three years of law school to eliminate our natural trust of our fellow man. But it is also ludicrous to expect a non-lawyer to know how to find accurate information about employment prospects within the field. Prior to the advent of blogs like this one, where was a prospective law student supposed to discover that he was being lied to. "Independent" news sources like USN certainly weren't reporting that legal employment statistics were false. Talking to individual lawyers, even to many individual lawyers, wouldn't have done the trick. Lawyers, by definition, are people who were hired to practice law. Thus you might conclude by talking to a bunch of lawyers that all or most law grads make it. Should the prospective law student have sought out law grads that never made it? Where would they have found such people? Was there a list somewhere they could consult. Were they to start surveying people on the street? Should they have conducted their own comprehensive analysis of reported labor statistics and law school graduation numbers and tried to to infer thereby how recent grads were doing? It's ludicrous.

  24. 332

    Let's assume they found info: How would they even know which of the various sources were accurate? How were they to weigh the information?

    Most important question and one of the reasons we have false advertising laws:

    Who was best in position to provide accurate information? The law school or a third party?

    Essentially, the judge places the burden on the student rather than the law school for determining whether t he law schools numbers are accurate.

    Bruh Rabbit

  25. The plaintiff's counsel mentioned various sources of information.

  26. So what? The judge, in order to dismiss, is being asked a legal question, not factual one. In terms of a legal standard, do we want to say that people should have to hunt around for the truth if they are being presented with information?

    Were this not lawyers dealing with law schools and other members of the profession, I doubt this judge would have made this ruling.

  27. At the very least, the Judge seems to indicate that there is risk involved in borrowing money to go to that one law school.

    Case dismissed, but now hopefully the so called young, reasonable and sophisticated college grads will be thinking twice about NY Law School and the stats that the even more sophisticated older people at the school publish.

    But in the big picture, a better fix for the scam is to somehow get the law schools to have more skin in the game.

    Restoring consumer bankruptcy protections for student loans would work, but is another long shot.

    Maybe in the end all we can do is wait until the student loan bubble pops and the gravy train is finally cut off for higher Ed in general.

    But where do the financially ruined people go to get their lives back?

  28. are you joking? No one will ever read this case or understand what you just said about the facts.

    this strikes me as the same kind of fantastical thinking that lead the judge to replace judicial opinion for facts here.

    if i can make up this fantastical "perfect law student who will think like a lawyer before going to law school" then he or she exists

    if I can make up this fantastical "perfect student who will read esoteric case law" then they will exist.

    bankruptcy laws aren't going to change until you change the larger environment.

  29. Read the CPLR standard at issue. "he misapplied the standard" is plaintiff lawyers' spin. The App. Div will get it right, too. And they may revisit delegation.

  30. From now on, every applicant should write a GPA of (the average of your highest four classes) on your law resume, and if anyone says shit about it point to this opinion and tell them that it's not your job to affirmatively disclose that the resume GPA is not representative of your true GPA.

    Then when a bar complaint gets filed against you and your license gets pulled, you'll realize what a bullshit opinion this was.

  31. if this is the 'standard" which i doubt, then the standard effectively means that no one in the modern age can ever bring a case in this area since they can always look it up online to figure out that somewhere out there is information that will tell them if they info they are seeing is accurate

    more over, it encourages deceptive practices. it says if i want to hide something i can mention it, bury it some place, and then if someone says "hey youwere being deceptive" i can say "you shouuld have looked at the foot notes on page 49" as a basis for being held not liable.

    the reason why this is absurd is that it leads to the law having no meaning if we take this seriously.

  32. Exactly, welcome to Judge Schweitzer distopia.

    What's most annoying about it is he wrote a needlessly long 30 page screed. if you're going to take a dump, make it quick. Don't ooze it out slowly without a mercy flush.

  33. this area=consumer information of any kind

    essentially in encourages companies to bury information since this opinion says one is "sophisticated" by merely having the ability to look something up. investors are sophisticated because they can look up reports form analyst saying that the numbers seem wrong, and, therefore, if a company buries a material piece of information in its report, well that's the investors fault.

    the problem again with this standard is that once you start to apply it to other situations no one would buy it as a reasonable standard to take

  34. Grade point "average" meant the average of my four highest classes, not as in the average of all my classes.

    Oh, you think that's retarded? Well read this opinion.

  35. When it comes to bonus time, tell your boss that based on a sample of 3 weeks, you had an annual billing rate of 3,000 hours per year.

    If he doesn't give you a bonus commensurate with a 3,000 billable hours year, tell him he's being illegal and violating the "Schweitzer doctrine" whereby biased samples are perfectly fine.

  36. The problem with the ruling is the very insidious nature of the fraud. Assume that a student does research: he reads this blog and other blogs like this, he tries to dig up accurate statistics. He looks at salary surveys. When all is said and done, he is left with two diametrically opposed scenarios:

    Scenario 1 is that there are no jobs, and the jobs which are out there pay no where near the $100,000 a year plus claimed by the law schools. The second scenario is there is a 90% chance you will get a job, and that job will likely pay over $100,00 per year.

    Which scenario does a college senior (who has not even graduated yet) believe? Does he rely upon blogs and other unreliable sources of information, or does he believe the glossy brochures from the law schools?

    Is a college senior entitled to rely upon the representations made by his professors, who all are estemed members of the legal profession? Or should that college senior treat the statemens made by law school professors and administrators with the same degree of disbelief that would be given to used car salesmen, real estate agents, an other well known cheats?

    All things being equal, if the law schools had not lied, the available information would seem to indicate that going to law school is a very very bad idea. But its the fraudulent statements themselves which lead to a different conclusion. Of course, the whole point of making those fraudulent statements is to encourace college seniors to apply to law school.

    Until recently, I would never have thought to challenge the integrity of my law school professors or the dean at the CU law school. I would never have believed that they would engage in the type of behavior that would get a practicing lawyer disbarred. I never would believe that any court would countenance fraud from institutions which are training people to become lawyers. Until recently, the thought that these people would lie through their teeth never entered my head.

    What the judge is saying is that my earlier faith in the intergrity of my law school professors was misplaced. He is saying the professors and deans are lying scumbags, and one would be a fool to believe them.

  37. how much of this is caused by New York State's ridiculous high fraud standards?

    New York is a shithole of a state with zero quality of life. It's a bunch of rats running around yelling at each other.

  38. I think the phrase we have been avoiding is "Caveat Emptor."

    Let's party like its 1899!

  39. "From now on, every applicant should write a GPA of (the average of your highest four classes) on your law resume, and if anyone says shit about it point to this opinion and tell them that it's not your job to affirmatively disclose that the resume GPA is not representative of your true GPA."

    Glenn Reynolds has a post on Instapundit today noting the rise of classes at elite institutions in the area of "inequality." He then asks if inequality on college campuses might go down if universities emptied the endowments to fund tuition reductions or if students were admitted at random as opposed to on the basis of their grades and test scores.

    What a scam higher education has become. It's do as I say, not do as I do.

  40. @ 4:29


    It is Caveat Emptor..........Bitchez !!!!!11

  41. My financial life is ruined, and all my dreams are over, and I have days when I feel such despair and hopelessness.

    I am like one of the people talking in their graves from the Thornton Wilder play: "Our Town"

    Like Emily here, it is very painful to remember how life once was, now that one is dead:

  42. Going to law school is much like buying a house. At least it costs almost as much. When a buyer purchases a home, the buyer must exercise due dilligence such as getting a home inspection and an environmental report. Otherwise, the property is sold "as is." I see law school the same way. The judge was right. College kids must act reasonably and exercise due dilligence when spending or borrowing six figures to get a degree that is practically considered worthless these days. If I were a marginal law school candidate and my only choice was NYLS, I would at least contact three recent grads (from Classes of 2008-2011) and find out how they are faring with a NYLS law degree. Legal education is a business folks. NYLS is a private school not attached to any university. Its sole purpose is to make money. If you didn't know that, then I guess you deserve to get ripped off.

  43. @ 4:35

    To quote Yossarian from Catch 22 in response to Snowden's being belly shot by a gunner . . .


  44. 4:43

    I thought law schools were non-profit.


  45. 4:46PM

    When you look at how these pigs (i.e., university presidents, law school deans, professors and administrators) are feasting at the trough (public information about their outrageously high salaries is available on the interwebs), ask yourself, is higher education non-profit?

  46. No, going to law school is not like buying a house. There's a way to inspect a house to know whether the house is actually what the seller claims. There is no equivalent for law school. Students do not get t he right to audit the law school books before entering the law school to see if they are lying or not, which would be the only way that one could find an equivalence. There is no way to achieve the same level of due diligence here. It becomes he said, she said. That' the problem with the judges argument. He assumes that there is some objective third party standard that the student could use to determine whether the information presented is valid or not. If there is no such unicorn, his argument falls apart.

    Bruh Rabbit

  47. 4:51

    I have a duty to research administrator salaries? Is this a tenet of the NYLS judges opinion?


  48. @4:53

    I agree.

    Law School is a house with termites or one that is haunted.

    There is a duty to disclose defects!!!!

  49. By the way, even with the right to inspect books, the presumption if this were a securities case is that there is still the chance for fraud if the company is cooking the books to prevent an audit from uncovering the truth. The comparison that works here is securities law. Who is in best position to find and present the truth here? Students or law schools? I joked about Caveat Emptor to underscore just how screwed up this country has become in its zeal to return to the 1890s.

    Bruh Rabbit

  50. Very disappointing.

  51. Is there ANY man/woman of decency in the Legal profession besides Paul Campos?

  52. Look, if you are going to spend 3 YEARS and $150K on something, I would sure hope you did more than take the school's or brochure's word for it. I mean, if you are going to make that kind of time and financial committment, you can take a weekend out of your life to visit about 50-75 AM250 law firm websites and count how many NYLS are employed there and extrapolate realistic expectations. Or are you going to take an apple from a stranger, bite into that apple and sue the stranger when your gums are bleeding from the razor blade that was hidden inside the apple? No, you idiot, you just throw the apple away. In this case, you throw out what the schools tell you and do research on your own. The judge was SPOT ON!

  53. Actually, when those razor apples were going about during Halloween, those people got arrested/sued.

  54. 503

    What would you suggest, objectively, rather than subjectively, that someone look at to determine what is the fact of the matter in terms of law school employment numbers?

    My problem with folks like you is that you are good at conclusion, and very shitty at the actual explaining how this will occur part.

    Your nonsensical comment about law firm websites is beyond absurd. Again, by your logic, if an investor does not research all other aspects of an industry, that makes the material representation of a company's information to the investor (many of whom invest more than 150k) okay.

    I want to know how far you are willing to go with this argument.

    Like most of the hollier-than thou types, you are big on moral judgment, and small on practical solutions

    The practical solution here is not to expect people to investigate all claims that an indust ry makes as if one can ultimately know objectively an aswere. The expectation should be that the company presenting the information must not make false or misleading statement

    Not the least of which because it just makes financial sense to have such a standard. We don't want an economy where everyone is looking over his or her backs and transactions are being slowed down because everyone is allowed to lie.

  55. The problem here of course is that some people have an axe to grind beyond practical solutions to problems. The practical solution here is to require law schools not to promote false or misleading statements. the impractical one is to expect a complex analysis that goes beyond anything we expect in any other areas from student.

  56. 5:03PM here.

    I went to law school over 20 years ago. Most of my contemporaries who went to law school did not make reckless decisions in putting their fate on the magic 8 ball (i.e., the USNWR Rankings). Back then, we had the Gourman Report, which was a much more credible resource material that used valid metrics and quantifiers to rank schools. From what I recall, the so called "T14" from the USNWR was not necessarily the T14 of the Gourman Report. The Gourman Report went to shit when it was purchased by the Princeton Review which tried to compete with the USNWR rankings before it was phased out in the mid '90s. Anyway, the point I am trying to make is I did not look at employment or median salary stats when I went to law school. I went to law school because I wanted to be a lawyer and I had no delusions of becoming a hot shot lawyer you see in movies such as "The Lincoln Lawyer" or on TV series such as Arnie Becker from "LA LAW." I passed on a 3 "T14" schools which offered me paltry scholarships. I attended what USNWR would classify as a T30 school on a full ride. Do I regret passing up a T14 education? No, I never have. I made the law degree work for me. I didn't expect my alma mater to give me a JD that would magically open doors for me. I pulled myself by the bootstraps and hit the pavement and hustled hard. Today, I make more money than most partners at V50 firms. Am I happy? No, but at least I am not bitching about how my school fucked me over and how the law school deans and professors hazed me for 3 years with their "hide the ball" tricks. If you went to law school thinking you would become instantly prestigious or strike it big, you are foolish and quite frankly that kind of poor judgment shows why your type and ilk won't succeed in this profession.

  57. @5:24 - Nice diatribe but you are old man with zero understanding just how terrible an investment law has become. When you went, you had a chance. Look over the inflation adjusted numbers of tuition over 30 years and maybe if you open your mind you will understand this simple fact 'The Math Doesn't Work Anymore'. Get a clue.

  58. It's not that the math doesn't work anymore. The problem is you kids want it all without paying your dues. When I think of today's lawyers, I think of that kid who sued the internet-the Touro law grad that bragged about getting a mistrial on a murder charge because the judge found him to be incompetent. Your generation's arrogance offends me. I had to train for 2 years before I did my first trial. I didn't go lease a Benz as soon as I graduated from law school. I did not take a 4 week bar trip to Maui. I used my post-bar exam time to train, hell I even showed up at the firm 3 weeks before my start date to shadow the veteran attorneys there. Did I complain when they put me in a windowless office? No. Did I complain when I only got a four figure bonus my first year? No. All you kids want is instant gratification and you haven't even worked for it. Spare me the "I busted my ass for a one year to get a 167LSAT" or "I worked hard for my 3.9GPA in poli sci." You want to know what is harder? Mastering the law and having the ability to get clients. Guess what kids? Most clients don't give a fuck if you were law review or attended a T14 (the firms do, clients not really). Clients don't want to hear about how you finger fucked a girl named Sally in New Haven during exams as a 1L at Yale. They want to know that you have the charisma and skill set to get them the results they want. If your attitude is "Well, I have a law degree from Columbia, therefore, I shouldn't have to prove anything to the client," you have the wrong attitude. Do I feel sorry for the typical NYLS grad? No, not really. You would have to be a fucking moron to not realize that a degree from that place is toxic, especially when you consider the tuition there is in the top 10 percent of law school tuition rates. The judge knew this, just as anyone that has enough sense to think objectively instead of dreaming about unicorns and a "models and bottles" lifestyle.

  59. Speaking of this whole "sophisticated consumer" thing, last semester I interviewed a bunch of federal judges for a research project and I came across one that bragged several times about his grandchildren being law school. One of them was in NYLS - I remember specifically because it was just after the lawsuit was filed that I talked to him (obviously I didn't mention it to him). Another one of his grandkids was going to some other shit school but now I can't remember which one it was. He was soooo proud of his grandchildren for going to these shitty schools, and the guy was a FEDERAL JUDGE for god's sake! If anyone should have been "sophisticated" enough to give his relatives good advice about law school and lawyering, it was this guy!

    The point has been made many times on this thread, but I just wanted to throw in my two cents that it's ridiculous for kids to expect schools to lie to them about employment data as "reasonable" consumers. I for one relied on my school's employment data - I remember being awestruck at the great placement of grads - only to find out after I had already started school that 10 percent of the previous class had been hired by the school to jack up the stats. I'm sorry, but anyone who doesn't at least feel for the students' pain is a callous sociopath.

    Oh and 5:24 - fuck you, you callous sociopath. You think I have poor judgment? I worked my entire life to get into law school and now am at a T14. My aims are quite modest but frankly I am scared at this point that I won't even get a job. Everyone in my generation worked diligently to get the education we were told was an "investment" in our future, and now we are a seething angry, roving pack of wolves and YOU are on our dinner menu. We are hopeless and sick of being exploited, and SICK of being insulted by entitled old fucks who had everything easy in life and now just assume we're lazy because we didn't turn out like you.

  60. 5:54, same with you: Go fuck yourself and die. If you are leaving behind a world where the best and brightest are saddled with 200k in debt and can't get jobs, then that says a whole lot more about you than it does about us. History will not look kindly upon you, to say the least.

  61. @5:54 - I get it. You are intentionally obtuse.

  62. "It's not that the math doesn't work anymore." Actually, considering that there are two lawyers being produced for every job, it IS that the math doesn't work anymore. How does it reflect on YOU as a lawyer that you can't acknowledge that obvious fact?

  63. 554

    Please tell me you are a better lawyer than your post suggests. Bottles and models? Trips to Maui? Your examples are sad / tired / lame cliches with no grounding in reality.

  64. 5:54 is a troll. Ignore him.

  65. 6:08PM

    Really? A cliche? Then maybe the woman with the handle "JDWeddingDay" on the following link is a figment of my imagination:

    I know many kids today who plan bar exam trips to Bali, Fiji, Ko Lipe, etc. I didn't take my first vacation until I was a third year associate. Today, I take a vacation every 3 months. I know I have fucking earned it. What do you think a recent JD grad has earned? What accomplishments has he/she achieved, aside from the paper tiger accolades?

    The problem is lawyer "noobs" want to dress and live the part of someone who has worked over 20 years to where he is. If that is the portrait the law school dean sold you as he was stroking his beard while you were drooling and hanging on his every word, then the joke was on you. You want to be a successful lawyer? Then you have to make it happen. Don't expect handouts. Every NYLS type of school will have a few students who are connected to the profession (mom is a federal judge, dad is partner, uncle is a GC at fortune 500, etc.). These kids are the token examples of success that the schools sucker you into thinking you will one day become. Come on, it's not a difficult game to figure out.


    Haha that was really funny. I especially liked that you used "Pulled myself up from my bootstraps" "Hit the pavement" and "hustled hard" all in the same sentence.

  67. Its striking that the the judge seems to concede that the stats are misleading. The defense is that the prospectives should have looked for some other information and then should have known that the other info was more credible than the law school's info. That is an astounding line of logic.

    Its interesting that the students will have to go before the Character & Fitness gestapo of the bar before being licensed. They'll have to explain why they didn't report the underage drinking ticket they got when they were 17. Now, I guess its an acceptable defense that the law schools were sophisticated and should have done more.

    I'm ashamed to be a lawyer after this decision.

  68. He specifically says they were not misleading.

  69. 6:28, In the sense that they did not claim to be accurate, i.e. the salary statistics did not claim to be representative.

    In other words, if you publish lies, but don't claim to be telling the truth, then you're not misleading because you never cloaked your lies with the label of "truth".

    What an idiotic bit of reasoning.

  70. That was not his reasoning.

  71. Agreed 6:41. Nothing in the opinion can be cited as having employed reason. It was a political hackery and cronyism masquerading as a decision.

  72. It was reasoning. You just do not accept the outcome.

  73. Nope. There was no reasoning. Reasoning requires reason to be employed. You must be the same numb nutz who has a problem because the hot Asian chick went to Maui. Lol. LOSER.

  74. 6:22, are you jealous of JDWeddingDay?

    Let's just say I put two and two together and it seems like JDWeddingDay is not worried about the financial consequences of her Maui trip.

  75. Guy: This used car is reliable.

    Buyer: Great thanks.

    *car breaks down*

    Buyer: You lied to me!

    Judge Schweitzer: No he did not. He told you the car was reliable, but he never claimed to be making a statement about the car under all circumstances. Had you done your research, you would have discovered the car is actually reliable in cold weather but that it overheats in hot weather. Thus, it's your fault. Also, the economy.

    Guy: To evil!

  76. Yes, that's exactly right. I do not accept the outcome.

    Tell me why lawyers are not allowed to give false indications in advertisements of the likelihood of success at trial. Tell me why you can't name a law firm WeJustWin, P.C. It's anathema to the profession. It flies in the face of everything legal representation is supposed to be. Lawyers are supposed to be staunch advocates for their clients' interests. But they're also required to be forthright and capable of upholding ethical obligations of honesty to the court as well as putting forward their client's view of things.

    In just the same way, how is it in any way acceptable to mislead people you want to EDUCATE? What the hell is that? By definition, students of all kinds place themselves in their instructors' hands. The entire endeavor is about being led to a place of greater enlightenment, if that's not too melodramatic a word. And it all begins with a great lie? Huh. I guess that's O.K. now.

  77. 119 - Even in the worst of times someone turns a profit.
    122 - Know your enemies ... but do business with them always.
    124 - Not even dishonesty can tarnish the shine of profit.
    125 - Let others keep their reputation. You keep their money.
    126 - Never cheat a Klingon ... unless you're sure you can get away with it.
    128 - It's always good business to know about new customers before they walk in the door.
    130 - The justification for profit is profit.
    131 - New customers are like razortoothed grubworms. They can be succulent, but sometimes they can bite back.
    133 - Employees are rungs on the ladder of success. Don't hesitate to step on them.
    134 - Never begin a negotiation on an empty stomach.
    135 - Always know what you're buying.
    139 - Beware the man who doesn't make time for oo-mox.
    141 - Latinum lasts longer than lust.
    145 - You can't buy fate.
    200 - Never be afraid to mislabel a product.
    210 - More is good ... all is better.
    212 - A wife is a luxury ... a smart accountant is a necessity.
    215 - A wealthy man can afford anything except a conscience.
    218 - Never allow doubt to tarnish your love of latinum.
    220 - When in doubt, lie.
    300 - Deep down everyone's a Ferengi.
    400 - No good deed ever goes unpunished.
    401 - [Quark's rule] When Morn leaves, it's all over.

  78. Forgetting the law for a second (which is not interested in reason or facts), the judge's arguments have the appearance of reason, but are actually Sophistry.

    If we accept his argument as true, it would render fraud impossible to prove because the core argument (students could have relied on third parties) is circular reasoning regarding whether the statements were (1) misleading and (2) there was some objective way to determine the validity of the misleading statements or that (3) any of this suggests sophistication.

    Prof. Campos alludes to the circular nature of the argument by pointing out what is often the circular nature of what "rational actor" has become.

    The circular argument is that the students were sophisticated because they could have gained information from other sources. It turns the notion of sophistication into a sham.

    We live in the internet age. There are pro and con arguments being made on the internet on just about every subject imaginable. If that's the definition of sophistication, then, there are no unsophisticated parties. That's both circular, and sophistry.


    1- Once you have their money ... never give it back.

    [this is the most important rule. never forget this rule]

  80. One other point. Some here have claimed this is case law. I googled "sophisticated parties" and "New York" and fraud, and I am not so sure that's true:

    "Be Careful What You Warrant and Represent In Your Deal Documents; You May Be Liable To A Sophisticated Party For Fraudulent Inducement Even When That Party Fails to Conduct Due Diligence Or Was On Notice Of Potential Problems"


    This case involves far more sophisticated parties than the Sophistry that is the "sophisticated party" of the judge in the case that dismissed the law school class action.

    In short, I think people here are making shit up:

    "Justice Kornreich rejected the defendants' arguments based on the Court of Appeals' decision in DDJ Capital Management, LLC v. Rhone Group L.L.C.. 15 N.Y.3d 147 (2010). According to Justice Kornreich, the Court of Appeals rejected the defendants' argument that a party who obtains representations and warranties is obligated, in all cases, to review the underlying documents in order to confirm a representation because "where a plaintiff has gone to the trouble to insist on a written representation that certain facts are true, it will often be justified in accepting that representation rather than making its own inquiry." Justice Kornreich also relied on Justice Bransten's decision in MBIA Insurance Corporation v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., Index No. 602825/2008 (Sup Ct, NY County, July 13, 2009), which also held that a lack of due diligence was not sufficient to dismiss a fraud claim."

    Bruh Rabbit

  81. In short, I suspect this case, if the above case law is right, may be reversed on appeal if that's allowed under the circumstanced.

  82. Bruh Rabbit,

    There is no law. The law is a scam, joke, tool to cloak decisions. Did you not take legal process?

  83. I went to UCONN Law School in the 1990s. While I did not keep track of what each and every one of my fellow law students were doing, I cannot think of a single one who was jetting off to Maui, pre or post bar exam, though I did know at least one who disappeared for two weeks to do his army reserve commitment. We must have collectively missed the train to self indulgent yuppieville.

  84. The case didn't show up:

    "Be Careful What You Warrant and Represent In Your Deal Documents; You May Be Liable To A Sophisticated Party For Fraudulent Inducement Even When That Party Fails to Conduct Due Diligence Or Was On Notice Of Potential Problems"

    While the facts are somewhat different in that the party committing fraud had warranted that facts were correct, there was (1) an expectation of actual due diligence rather the illusive one that the judge in the law school class action describes and (2) the parties were far more sophisticated than the illusive description that the judge in the law school case describes. To therefore, hold a less sophisticated party to a higher standard is indefensible.

  85. Judge Schweitzer's position, as represented in the paragraphs quoted from his opinion, imply that law schools have a perfect right to dupe any potential student who does not understand what a statistically significant sample is. This is interesting, particularly when one considers that law schools are especially attractive to students who do not understand such things. Perhaps the judge actually believes these students deserve harsh punishment for their ignorance of statistics. However, most law school applicants have not passed through the scientific curriculum that would teach them to disbelieve what law schools assert about hiring and average salaries. In fact, those who have passed through such a curriculum generally do more certain, more useful and more remunerative things with their lives than attending law school. That students apply to and attend law school is rather conclusive evidence of ignorance in this regard. And if such ignorance merits punishment, then their attendance at law school is merely proof that they merit it.

    Thus, law school applicants are the natural prey of law school administrators, who use applicants' ignorance in two ways: first to entice them through their ignorance into the trap that is law school, and then to defend themselves against claims of deception afterward through the argument that they have failed with regard to due diligence. In this remarkable way they simultaneously commit fraud and excuse themselves from it.

    When I was in practice this was the sort of argument that provoked the remark "That's an argument only a lawyer would accept."

  86. According to the Judge, students are supposed to examine the data. Prior to 2009 and the advent of the law school scambuster blogs, exactly what data were people supposed to refer to?

    All of the law schools have similar employment stats. These statistics have the implicit sanction and backing of the ABA and arguably the federal government. In the case of public universities, they have the implicit sanction and backing of state governments.

    The Judge's argument would be much stronger if he could provide some specific examples of published data that students could have looked at before 2009. Even today such data isn't widely available outside of little-known law school scambuster blogs and a few newspaper articles.

    To read my take on the "Sophisticated Consumer" argument, please read my blog post, "Eviscerating the 'Sophisticated Consumer' Argument":

    Also, what difference does it make whether a consumer is "sophisticated"? Are consumers who possess specialized knowledge in certain fields supposed to conduct an in-depth professional examination of every good or service they purchase?

    If an accountant deposits his money at a bank, is he supposed to audit the bank's internal books? If a mechanic purchases a new car, is he supposed to disassemble and reassemble the engine? Is the Judge essentially granting a license to commit fraud whenever a business's consumer base is "sophisticated"?

  87. Reading about this opinion makes me want to leave America and find a place where I can maybe find real opportunity instead of a place where corporatized shysters have a green light to defraud me.

    Does this "judge" honestly think law students don't do due diligence before going to school? I did. I read the BLS' reports, the US News and World Reports Rankings, and a variety of other materials before applying in addition to the law school's salary and employment data. And I wouldn't have gone to law school but-for the representation of the school that if I finished in the top 25+% I'd be pretty well set to pay back the modest debt I'd have to take out.

    Even if I, being a "sophisticated" consumer, consulted a variety of sources, the school still committed fraud, and there still is going to be reliance due to the information asymmetry. Why in the world would people sign up for the system otherwise? Is the judge so stupidly arrogant that he thinks people would willingly go into 6 figures of debt just for the pleasure to learn the law?

    And if you have to grant the motion as a matter of law, fine; keep the extra 35 pages of sanctimonious, arrogant, misguided bull crap to yourself. You're not Antonin Scalia (who shouldn't be writing 30+ page opinions, either).

    Jesus. My grandpa said to read a newspaper every day. The more I read newspapers, the more I believe our society is a giant resource-grabbing scam and the rule of law is nothing more than a farce to prop the truly (and often literally) entitled.

    Poor guy lies to government = jail. Government-propped institutions blatantly lie to poor guy = perfectly acceptable. Thomas Jefferson = thoroughly dead.

  88. Hey,

    You all wanted Obama.



  89. I think it is a flawed analogy to compare the financing of a law school education to the purchase of a car or a security. A law degree is not a "widget" or a bill of goods. It is merely a ticket to sit for the bar exam. What you do afterwards, is your destiny. You are the captain of your destiny, not the law school dean or your torts professor. I have practiced for decades in the NY metro area and I have never met an NYLS Biglaw partner. I have met a few NYLS grads who were sprinkled in some firms as a result of connections. If a college student aspires to work at as a lawyer at Wachtell or Cravath, go to their websites. Find out how many NYLS grads work there. Anyone want to take a guess how many NYLS grads work at those firms? Cravath: 0 | Wachtell: 2 Associates (the most recent one graduated from NYLS in 1990). It took me 3 minutes to access that information. You would think that these brilliant law students with their 160LSAT scores can access that same information.

    The judge's opinion may have been bogus but it was par for the course for this bullshit lawsuit.

  90. 9:29

    You have a funny habit of ignoring the fraud.
    It is a fraud and you know it. You are pond scum.

  91. @9:29
    I think where I disagree with you is this: first you're viewing this from the lens of a person with decades of experience in the field rather than someone with none. Second, you're assuming that everyone in NYLS aspired to work at Wachtell/Cravath - maybe they had more reasonable smaller law firm aspirations and most of them aren't finding any work in law at all. Third, even if you check 2 or 3 law firm websites, and see that grads of x school aren't there - there's no reliable system of finding out where X school grads do end up. You can't be sure you haven't found them unless you've checked every firm website - meanwhile the school's statement of 93% employment makes you think they're out there somewhere.

  92. So let me get this straight. Gen Y college grad goes to law school, takes $150K in student loans and another $15K in bar exam loans (post bar exam trip to Maui is expensive) and you expect him to work in a small law firm? Do you know what small firms pay entry level attorneys in NY? Most paralegals in Biglaw make more than attorneys in small shops. And you want me, the taxpayer, to feel sorry for the kid who was "duped" or "defrauded?" Please, the kid took a reckless risk and lost. There are no refunds at the casino. There are no refunds in law school.

  93. 9:46

    You are an old man. Old. Clueless old man.

  94. 9:46

    You are a clueless aging baby boomer douche with no clue about what is happening to the younger generations.

    Just remember, when you are shitting in your Depends, we will be running things. The only problem: with the insurmountable debt and no jobs available, there will be less taxpayers to fund your insolvent Medicare and Social Security programs. Since the vast majority of you baby boomers have been deadbeats when saving for retirement (I read 70% of you have not saved dick), Social security is your only option. This option is sure to die if my generation and the one after it does not become good little spenders and savers very soon. My generation (X) has accepted that Social Security will run out on us so many of us are saving now. Your generation, under current trends is FUCKED if we cannot find jobs, spend and pay taxes.

    In the end, the best laugh is the last laugh. I may be unemployed and in debt but I am young. I have time to figure it out. I think your generation is fucked. Believe me, when it comes time to support your generation, even if the money is there, my generation may turn off the spigot because frankly, my kind HATES your kind.

    Think it over asshole.

  95. I would think, that you, as the taxpayer, would like the cases to proceed at least to discovery to see the extent and depth of fraud that's going on - which could then prevent more of your tax dollars from being wasted on terrible loans.
    Plus, as the taxpayer, I think you would want the students to get their money back - it would go right into paying off the loans and then no harm no foul - your tax money is right back where it was.

  96. If you are lucky, you will be old someday,too.

  97. One industry (education) is pulling down two generations and the economy. Ironic when you consider that education is supposed to be beneficial to the educated as well as society.


    If I become as clueless, close-minded, heartless, and out of touch as you, I don't think I want to get old.

    I find it mind-blowing that the baby boomers call us whiners when they are the most entitled generation of all generations. My grandfather, a member of the Greatest Generation, referred to the Baby Boomers as "milquetoast." I asked him what it meant and he said, "pussies."

  98. AMEN 10:14 PM!


    If you think we're going to support your locust-like lifestyles, you're in for a rude retirement. We'll stack you floor to ceiling in facilities, and it will be your own damn fault. You took from your parents, you took from yourselves and now you're robbing us (your children). Fuck you. All of you.

  99. 10:18 here--10:36, I haven't been in conversation with you and you know nothing about me.

  100. Not in conversation except for pointing out what anyone could point out.

  101. 10:47:

    True. However, "I haven't been in conversation with you and you know nothing about me."

    Fuck you anyway.

  102. After reading a lot of the comments I just have to say that things seem like they are getting really ugly and bad.

    There is much bitterness and hostility.

    There are problems here that won't just go away

    There are people that have been severly harmed financially by the Law School Scam, and so far they have absolutely no legal or political recourse.

  103. 11:05:

    Everything you say is true. There will be recourse though. The student loan scam, education scam, and the many other BS myths will fail in time. Time is on our side and it is one of the thoughts that keeps me going.

    Even if all the scambloggers stopped and there was no more mention of any of these scams, the education industrial complex will falter. The numbers cannot sustain themselves.

    Oh, and fuck you Baby Boomers.

  104. The decision, in my view, was largely correct because these plaintiffs applied before the whole system collapsed.

    That's the problem with these suits--they are premature if they involve very recent grads. They need a class action of current 3L's to really pull this off.

  105. Very good post I enjoyed reading it from top to bottom.

  106. I am a baby boomer with deep empathy for scammed law students and graduates. I find Judge Schweitzer's decision appalling. Not all of us are pigs. I completely understand your bitterness, but don't tar all boomers with the same brush--some of us are your supporters and allies.

  107. 11:39:

    I think it is just the opposite. The problems in the legal industry are only coming to fruition now because of the super shitty market. The flooded market has existed for at least 15 years. It was hard for me and my classmates to get jobs ten years ago and we went to a good school, in a good market, and we all had good grades.

    I think the argument could be made that it was really hard to find truthful information on employment stats by those who attended law school in the mid-nineties to 2009. In the mid-nineties there were only a few guides promoting this BS and two of them were US News and LSAC, not much else. The internet was in its infancy stage so there was no information there either.

    The best way to thwart the logic of this ruling is to produce a bunch of OLDER graduates from the 1990s and have them be plaintiffs. After all, they had less access to information than college grads today and even as "sophisticated consumers" who had a duty to research stats and not take what the schools said at face value, the question becomes, outside of a few books, where else could they look to get other and/or better info?

    Bringing in older graduates would bolster the suits and address the ruling in this case.

  108. 11:48:

    Agreed. My parents are not at all like their generation (Baby Boomers). They understand what their children are going through. parents are the exception. The vast majority of Baby Boomers (90%, IMO) give the rest a bad name.

  109. Sadly, many of the angry, disgruntled JDs enjoy talking about it on the Internet but have no real interest in trying to organize and do something. See these two threads:

    Sadly, the attempts to get organized drew almost no interest. That's too bad because there must be hundreds of thousands of potential supporters out there.

  110. I agree. Let's blame the boomers who did a lousy job in raising generation Y, a generation of whiners. I blame them for telling their kids that they are super exceptional and for misleading them into thinking that they would be the next Ronald Dworkin by attending law school. I blame them for coddling this generation and instilling in them that when something goes wrong, it must be someone else's fault. What away to own to your mistakes and demonstrate some personal responsibility.

  111. 11:48,

    I agree that not all boomers are as malignant as the troll posting here. Most of the 50+ year old attorneys I have spoken to are also sympathetic to the debt that recent grads are stuck with.

    I could be wrong, but I suspect that the pompous poster on this thread is between 35-49 years old and has either recently paid off his student loans or paid a significant portion of it. Accordingly, he will probably not benefit from any student loan relief.

    Most people like him do not have any sympathy for law school grads with $200,000+ student loans. They agree with the judge's ruling not because it is the correct legal determination but instead because the decision fits with their ideology.

    They give various rationalizations for forcing students to pay their debts - learn to honor contracts, paying dues, don't shift the debt burden to taxpayers, among others. All of these rationalizations are debatable at best and some are based on faulty logic. But what these people really want to say (and some have said it) is that student loan forgiveness invites a moral hazard ("I paid MY student loans so you should too, you cheap fucking, entitled loser! I don't give a shit if my tuition was 50% lower than yours. You signed a fucking contract so man up and honor your end of the bargain, for better or for worse!")

    To use a Simpsons analogy, these trolls are reminiscent of the Frank Grimes character.


  112. Frank:

    I followed those threads very closely because some of us want to join something in order to make a difference. However....most of the ideas presented in those threads are terrible. One of the very first threads suggested that 50K people file BK. Really? Good credit is one of the few assets I possess. Not gonna file BK to make a point.

    The Scambloggers should align themselves with people like Alan Collinge and Robert Applebaum. All these little groups should act as one. The problem is that many of these individual groups when they are not fighting with one another (see Applebaum vs. Collinge and both vs. Johannsen) only see their own goals and not the bigger picture. The problems that plague our industry are part of a larger systemic problem.

    Lawyers were not the only group lied to or scammed. The predatory nature of these loans is hurting all of higher ed. If anything, lawyers should be leading the way. We were taught to advocate (kinda). I learned it in practice anyway.

    Additionally, I refuse to back any group that has some Leftist or Rightist agenda that is not listed upfront. I am tired of the Dem/Repub paradigm. Both are to blame. The moderate elements will solve this problem.

    When these small splintered groups see past themselves, past partisan politics, and past short-sighted ideas, I would be more than willing to join and contribute. Not only would I join and contribute but I would be willing to sacrifice my limited resources for the movement...including but not limited to going to jail as a form of civil disobedience. Until then, forget about it.

    I refuse to join groups like the Teabaggers (pre-empted by Koch) or OWS (no clear message with liberal mouthpieces like phony Michael Moore).

    Until we stop trying to solve problems like our parents (partisan politics) we are going to be stuck.

  113. I'll tell you my expectation from these lawsuits. I don't expect a jury to award a jillion dollar verdict to the class. I don't expect the judge to rule that law professors and deans are to be personally responsible for compensating students on a misrepresentation, consumer fraud or negligence theory.

    What I did expect was some kind of settlement where law schools are required to report statistical information that cannot be gamed. I would have loved to see the plaintiffs' attorney grill the law school administration and past administrators, preferably in a public deposition with their students and alumni watching.

    But if this is the way these lawsuits are going to end, then I have lost all hope of any kind of reform. The schools aren't going to change voluntarily. And as a previous commenter noted, very few students will take the initiative to rage against the machine (this is probably because they still think they have hope of getting that magic job.) Finally, short of an epic tragedy or a vigorous youth movement, the government will not act.

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  115. Things worth noting about this decision:

    1) The defence that NYLS was following ABA rules was not successful. ABA is not a government agency.

    2) The complaint itself was taken as evidence of the sophisticated nature of prospective NYLS students before they had attended that school.

    3) The difficulty in quantifying damages was prominent. Basically, it would have been difficult/impossible for the court to have decided what the 'true value' of an NYLS law degree should have been.

    4) The fact that the students graduated 'into' the Great Recession was also prominent in the decision. What of earlier students?

    5) Regarding reliance, the NYLS's defence that no detail had been provided as to how they had relied on NYLS's data was not allowed. Instead, the decision found that their reliance on NYLS's data alone had not been reasonable.

    Essentially, with more evidence (e.g., that NYLS was actively rigging the statistics), earlier students, more accurately defined damages (although how these might be defined is an open question), things might have gone differently.

  116. This was a bad case.

  117. Many of the comments reflect what I think is part of the reason why the public, in general, and the courts will not support the P's in these cases.

    The outspoken internet critics (if they're representative) paint this whole ordeal as one big scam. They allow for almost no blame to be placed on the student who decided to attend school X. That is simply not a realistic position to take, no matter how pissed off you are and no matter how much you'd like to hope that the law schools are under some kind of legal and/or moral duty to be more forthright.

    Second, there is a lot of antipathy toward the older generation because the current students seem to think that the word "entitled" does not apply to any of them (each one individually may think that "other students" might suffer from entitlement and "you're special" syndrome, but nobody thinks it of themselves), so when a "boomer" makes mention of this or something similar, law student defensiveness goes into overdrive.

    The students must realize that all of these "Boomers" and "Old Fucks" they're railing against are the same folks behind the benches and wielding the proverbial gavels. It is not lost on them...and let's face it, the law schools are full of those same Boomers and Old Fucks...maybe that shouldn't be a factor and all judges should look beyond those sorts of things, but judges are human too.

    Plaintiffs are never going to win when they claim that the scam was so pervasive that they were totally 100% duped and any reasonable person would have been similarly duped. I remember law school...surely even those students who were duped as described above heard the horror stories from the 2Ls and 3Ls during their 1L years.

    How does one explain why they stayed the additional 2 years? Nobody says you have to finish what you started if you found out 1/3 of the way through that you were "scammed."

  118. If the courts have failed, the only remedy left is legislative action ... or armed rebellion. Guess which one I have more faith in?

  119. @551

    You have the same rambling incoherent arguments all throughout this thread. Why dont you at least sign your name so we can see you are one solitary moron?

    Also, the argument is not and has never been that a decision to attend law school was 100% the result of any one factor. You are a joke who tries to put silly arguments into other peoples mouths.

    Lastly, you are old and will soon die.

  120. Now THIS is a silly lawsuit:

  121. "Lastly, you are old and will soon die."

    Ineluctable proof there is a beneficent loving God.

  122. Many prospective law students are neither sophisticated nor rational. I deal with them every day. I try to get them to think in a rational, sophisticated way about the decision to attend law school. Some of them get it. Most of them don't.

    Example: Last week, I spoke to a prospective student who has $60,000 (!) in student loan debt just from her undergraduate program. We gave her a decent scholarship, but she will still probably need to borrow a minimum of another $40,000 to attend law school (and probably more, because her scholarship is a cross-subsidized "merit-based" scholarship that she will probably lose after her first year). So she's looking at a minimum of $100,000 in total student loan debt upon graduation from law school.

    I explained all of this to her, as well as the fact that this amount of debt could very well ruin her life (I used those exact words). She said, "I understand that. But this is something that I have always wanted to do, and debt isn't going to stop me from doing it." This, to me, is an unsophisticated, irrational response to a rational set of evidence that she at least consider deferring law school and possibly not attending at all.

    I sympathize with the scambloggers and the people who feel they have been ripped off by law schools. I push the administrators at my school to make more data available to prospective students and to be honest about scholarship renewal, debt, and employment prospects. I push faculty to understand what the real goals of our students are (i.e., to practice law, not become career academics or do something tangentially related to law). But then I have conversations like this with prospective law students and I just want to throw up my hands and quit, because it doesn't seem like any of this makes a damn bit of difference to them.

  123. When folks are alleging youth and inexperience as explanations for poor pre-law research into the realities of legal education and legal careers, it's important to take into account the actual age breakdown of law school applicants:

    For several years now, roughly two-thirds of applicants in any given year have been college grads (not seniors), with a quarter out of college more than 3 years. The median age of law school applicants is just under 25. (Sources: and LSAC National Applicant Profile reports.)

    How far into one's 20s does the youth and inexperience argument run?

  124. This decision is the first in a long line of cases that will take months if not years to resolve. The judge didn't dismiss the premise of the case but was rather specific in why he dismissed it. The plaintiffs are sure to appeal but I do not think it will affect the other cases pending against other law schools.

  125. In the US, until about 30. In most countries 22 to 25 years olds are already at the end of their legal training ( which the decided to undertake at 18) or into their careers.

  126. "Many of the comments reflect what I think is part of the reason why the public, in general, and the courts will not support the P's in these cases."

    The rhetoric of the scambloggers may play some part, but the big reason is evident if you read any comments section of a major newspaper when law school stories come out. It's either "serves them right for trying to become professional scammers themselves!" or "sharks eating sharks, who woulda thunk it!" or the always witty "obviously the school taught them enough about the law to file their own lawsuit!" Most people have no idea about the scamblog movement. They just read about lawyers and law students and wonder what these "privileged" folks are whining about.

  127. I agree that 21 year olds thinking about going to law school are usually pretty non-savvy about the effects of debt on their future prospects. I know I was totally clueless on that score, despite being an intelligent person, top of my class in college, great LSAT score, etc. It's a factor of never having had to run one's own household, work full time for a living, have a budget, etc. And I grew up pretty lower-middle-class, so I understood not having money for things, but...I still just had no concept of making a budget work on my own. You couple that with the fact that I really did want to practice law (I didn't know what that meant in any real way, though), and the debt just didn't seem like an insurmountable obstacle to me. On the other hand, I got into and attended a top ranked school. If I had bombed out on the LSAT and could only get into bottom-feeder schools like NYLS, that would have given me pause. I don't think I would have taken out the debt to go to a school like that, because I would have logically concluded that my prospects would have been a lot less good coming out with a degree from such a school. I was naive but not a total fool.

    BUT even total fools should not be preyed upon by sleazy operations like NYLS. This is a situation where government protectionism would be a good thing.

  128. @7:53AM

    Keep the government out of this. Everytime the government gets involved in regulating an aspect of our lives, people get even more screwed. Take for instance Obamacare. I know many of you voted for this fast talking charlatan thinking he was a "cool hipster" because he is black. He is nothing more than an agent of Wall Street and everything under the label of big business. Obamacare will drive my premiums up and I won't be able to give my associates the bonuses they were used to because my overhead exploded as a result of government intervention in healthcare. God I hope the Supreme Court invalidates Obamacare, which really favors insurance companies and fucks over employers and employees who believe they are getting adequate health coverage (lol, wait unitl the insurance company denies your first claim).

  129. @8:14


  130. This post and the subsequent comments were some of the best internets that I have ever read.

    I would pay to read this blog.

  131. I understand 9:46's perspective as a young Boomer who got through a T14 on my own with no loans. I am a fiscal conservative, too.

    But he is missing a fundamental structural point. And it is a point that gives me lots of sympathy for the young lawyers affected by recent events. The student loan market is not a "market" in an conventional sense of the word. It is the result of heavy (and frankly stupid) government intervention and the worst of crony capitalism - no different than when the Government encouraged and subsidized absolutely shambolic sub-prime and near sub-prime mortgage programs. It is unfathomable that student loan debt cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. If education, as the Government edu-wonks would have it, is always so beneficial just why is it that private borrowers will rarely underwrite it on commercial loan terms (meaning with bankruptcy risk). Put severe caps on student loan limits, and especially with regard to endeavor like law school, and that will infuse discipline to the market. The law schools will then have to deal with the consequences of increasing tuition 3X-3.5X in the last 25 years. Many would go out of business, and rightly so.

  132. OH












  134. Technically, I'm a boomer (born in 63) but some of these comments sound like they're coming from some grouchy old dude in a Fla condo complex yelling at the kids to "get off of his lawn." Are law students lazier than we were or feel more entitled--I have no fucking idea nor do I really care.

    What seems rather apparent is that at these shit-tier schools there's at the very least some sort of implied nexus between published employment stats and exorbitant tuition prices. It's seems that they're representing,"hey don't worry that this toilet school costs a fortune b/c it'll be worth it when you get out." They're justifying the unjustifiable and there's something very wrong when truth so vastly diverges from the marketed image. Whether it's definitely actionable I don't know, but it certainly is a "Houston we have a major fucking problem situation."

  135. The courts are not the forum to resolve the law school scam. Yes, let us give everyone who has graduated in the past ten years a $10 CLE coupon and make two plaintiffs' lawyers who submitted boiler-plate complaints millionaires. This problem will never be resolved until Congress, the Dept of Ed, and the ABA actually does it judge by regulating and/or cutting back on the federal loan spigot.

  136. St. John's = uber chutzpah.

    Here's the link:

    My favorite part is where they identify New York area sports teams at the bottom. They just list "New York Yankees" alone, but for all other franchises (Mets, Knicks, etc.) the league is specified for the franchise.

  137. I do not think anyone looking at NYLS' s stats would conclude that they if they went there they were destined to make a fortune. The stats on salaries, during most years involved in the litigation, stated plainly that well fewer than 30% of graduates responded to the survey. The years in which they did not give a specific percentage for who had responded, they said that the numbers were based only on the people who responded and gave a range of salaries from something like 35k to 150k. Then they stated explicitly that the highest salaries were not representative of the salaries of most law graduates. I do not see how anyone reading this material would say these reports we're telling them that they were going to be making 150/160k by 9 months after graduation. That would not be enough information for me to make a decision.
    The other cases may be very different,however.

  138. What the f*ck is sports law any way? What are they going to turn you into, an NBA referree?

  139. My mother, father and college professors always told me I could be whatever I wanted to be. My dream has always been to be Lionel Messi's personal attorney. I think I am going to enroll in St. John's LL.M. program in International Sports Law.

    Owen Moore,
    Proud member of Generation Y and Class of 2011 NYLS

  140. Owen,

    Make sure you watch Jerry McGuire, but imagine your client is an Uzbeki soccer star who will say, "showing me ze mahney"

  141. I guess every possible thought about the opinion has been stated in the comments for this post.

    What more can be added?

  142. @11:23: point taken but why did the law school post this high numbers if they were not representative. Do law school have a right to say anything as long as they slap fine print on it?

    I do not know if this point has much legal weight but when you consider law schools motivations with what they claimed it just does not seem right even if none of the existing legal doctrines can address this.

    I think after several dismissal those lawyers should be able to formulate an argument to at least overcome motion to dismiss.

  143. @ 5:10PM


    The judge was given a narrow argument or question if you will, and answered only that.

    The scam has so many layers, and there are so many other arguments that can be formulated, and one or two is bound to stick in future.

  144. showing me dah rubelz. i must brake yoo

  145. @5:10 The decision indicates that they were following the ABA 's directions as to reporting. There was no threshold the responses had to meet before the numbers could be put down. So you could end up with some schools getting near 100% responses and others 20%. In the situation under which a school got only 20%, and put up numbers, the low percentage should convey that the response rate was not big enough to make that information the sole basis for coming to a decision about the school. In the years when they did not have the percentages, and just indicated that the salaries were just based on the responses they received, the warning that the high salary was not representative carried the same message:this is not enough, ask or, as they say in my field, unpack this more.

  146. more Ferengi wisdom, please.

  147. IF we are to think like lawyers BEFORE we go to law school AND law schools repeatedly stress that they are not teaching us practical skills but how to THINK like a lawyer, then what is the point of law school? Under that argument, law school literally has zero purpose.

  148. How are students supposed to be critical of such data if they were on notice and have been socialized to trust educational institutions.

    When I got to law school I did not have the balls to ask for detailed reported.

    I asked for it recently and was told politely to fuck off all data that they have is up on their website. My ass, I hate admin stuff at law school bunch fake bitches.

  149. Mutual funds cherry pick 12-month time frames to show off their best results and disclaim that past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

    How many prospective law students would drop $100K into a fund based on a picture of a graph in a magazine without doing some additional research? Any that would shouldn't be too upset with the fund when it has a negative return for the next 10 years.

  150. 4:21

    Maybe so, maybe not. However, your apples to oranges comparison shows you lack a serious understanding of the matter.

    1. A "fund" has multiple sources in which to review it before making a decision. A fund is also not being purchased based upon BORROWED nondischargeable toxic debt.

    2. Up until 2010, the only information supplied to graduates re the legal market came from LSAC or the law schools themselves. Where else was one able to "research" in order to get the truth? Government stats are always rosier than the reality, no articles talked about it. Every politician pushed graduate school as well as college. So please, tell me, prior to 2010, where these 0ls could have looked?

    3. The law schools are feeding on public money in the form of student loans. They have a DUTY to be honest to the taxpayer about their employment rates. I should not have to explain this fact. If you cannot make the connection, maybe you are too stupid to own a computer.

    4. Here is a thought: Pick up remote. Turn off TV. Pick up book on subject, read about subject. Educate thyself before posting stupid crap. Until then, STFU.

  151. @8:47-- I 'm glad you appreciate it!

    @4:21- I understand what you are saying, but it isn't really cherrypicking on the fund's part if 12 months is the required time frame.

    It's not thinking like a lawyer to know that if you are determined to make a certain salary coming out of a place, and the reports you see only tell you about the salaries of 20% or so of graduates, that you do not have enough information about salaries. People who are not lawyers make those kinds of judgments every day. You can try, as someone mentioned above, to get more information from the administration. He/she said that did not work. Or you could talk to 2 and 3Ls there about the jobs they have, or don't have, and try to satisfy yourself that way. There may be other things. But one is to say, I'm not going to go here. And some people do decide not to go to law school.

    But I believe many people go for reasons other than that they looked at the school's website , saw 160k there somewhere, and decided to sign up.

  152. I for one am happy the law suit was thrown out. Law schools should report meaningful job statistics but suing a private institution because you were "misled" by a statistic on a webpage is outrageous. Not everything should be a law suit and this is an example of everyone looking in and seeing that lawyers and law students are behaving badly. Yes..schools behaved badly too but law suits are not the answer. As such, the case being thrown out for EXACTLY the reasons stated in the decision is exactly what should have happened.

  153. I tend to agree. The best remedy would be to shame the law schools and/or the ABA and/or the US News into doing the right thing.

    Unfortunately, it's becoming increasingly clear we're dealing with people that have no shame.

  154. The rules are changing now. The information that Is available, and will be, will tell people what they need to know.

  155. I have decided to continue blogging, but with a different approach or hook.

    That is to say, with more of a literary focus on massive debt and the human impact (the crushing of hopes and dreams, and how wild runaway Debt impacts marriage ,the family, and perhaps Love itself. etc)

    It is here:

    I will also continue satirically bash, in my writings, some Baby Boomer icons.

  156. The "cherry picking" that the mutual fund advertisements do is that they look through the history of the fund and pick out the absolute highest 12 month period to use.

    It is still accurate, of course, but it is similar to cherry-picking the top salaries and bringing those to the consumer's attention.

    The point is, you can't just trust what the salesman is telling you. And for those that say there was nowhere else for the prospective to get information, that is just recent alums. Before plunking down $30-$50k per year how hard is it to look a couple people up and get their take?

    Hell, go to the campus and stop a few 3Ls and ask...

  157. @8:38--sorry, I immediately went to the required reports that funds must provide to their actual customers.

  158. 6:29: Are there consumer protection laws in your world? Can I not sue my used car salesman- he is a private institution after all. Were the Madoff victims entitled to sue or should they have just "shamed" him into giving up the money?

    This logic astounds me. Because students could have conceivably done more research we should excuse fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair practices by the schools? Again, what world do you live in? Enjoy taking an hour to by a carton of milk. If you get food poisoning it was your own damn fault, you should have asked five or six consumers and done a thorough Google search, right?

  159. The whole idea of consumer information is interesting. I looked around and found that the ABA did not require it until 1996, which is why I found the idea of picking a law school on that basis strange. I applied before then. So, my understanding of how you go about doing that is different. I visited the three main schools I wanted to go to. I talked to students and talked to the Dean of Admissions at one place. I visited the school I really wanted to go to twice-- once before I applied and once after I had been accepted. The focus was on hearing what people who were connected to the schools had to say. I suppose they could have shaded things too, but I got a lot of frank information from students, especially. Most law students are not like college students in their sentimental attachment to their schools. They will tell you when stuff is wrong.

    I understand that expectations have been created by the provision of consumer information. But even when the new regime of transparency is all set, prospective students should talk to as many 2 and 3Ls as they can when they are picking a school.

  160. 4:21's analogy is idiotic. Let me explain why.

    I would be perfectly happy if schools used 12 month windows for their salary reporting. They don't, they use the 12 month window for a tiny subset of their students, and present that as the performance for the entire class.

    That would be like a mutual fund taking its few best performing investments and presenting those results as its performance for the year, something that would be per se fraud.

    To present it in idiot proof form (for 4:21), imagine if over a year, a Mutual Fund earned 20% on 2 investments and 0% on the other 8, for a total return of 4%. Disclosing that 4% is fine. But disclosing "20% [with an asterix saying it was based on 2 out of 10 investments]" is fraud.

  161. Of course asshole Schweitzer would apparently allow such mutual fund reporting, crediting the mutual fund for their tricky disclosures, and blame the investor for believing a 20% return was possible during a recession!

  162. Speaking of which, why weren't Madoff's investors faulted for believing his high returns were possible during an economic downturn? Had they done their own audit of Madoff's books they would have seen he was lying. Madoff should have gotten his case before Schweitzer.

  163. @10:27 Not the school in question. It stated that its numbers were based on the 20% or so of people who responded. There is no way a person reading that would think that mean 100 percent of graduates.

  164. meant 100 percent

  165. My Student Loan Nightmare:

    Here I am on Long Island Television last month.

    There are no American Human Rights/ Consumer Bankruptcy Protections against Predatory Banks and Lenders.

    There are days I feel such shame for being a burden on the US taxpayer that hasn't a clue as to how they are paying for all of the compounded interest on my student loan so as to make private Corporations and people like Albert Lord of Sallie Mae rich.

    The Predatory Banks and lenders not only screw the student, they screw the entire US Public as well by not ever letting the individual borrower off the hook when it is beyond obvious that the debt is too far gone to ever be repaid.

  166. There are three other reasons why students justifiably relied upon NYLS's representations--and why I disagree with Judge Schweitzer's decision. The first is that law schools are educational institutions devoted to the advancement of knowledge. If a mutual fund put an asterisk next to its claims saying "based on 2 out of 10 funds," I probably would think, "hm, that sounds sort of fishy. I better think more about what that means. Oh, it probably means that these are the only two funds that did well!"

    But when a law school publishes salaries for its graduates, there is a different effect--even if the school includes a fine print disclaimer that the numbers are "based on 20% of graduates reporting." Law schools are composed of scholars who analyze facts carefully. Students who see a school's representations will reasonably conclude that the school--which is made up of scholars--would not publish statistics that were baseless.

    It gets back to a point I've made before: The employment representations made by law schools during the last 5 years would never have stood up to scholarly scrutiny. A professor who relied on numbers like the ones schools have published--even with a caveat footnote--would be laughed out of a faculty workshop. That professor would not get tenure. These statistics are so misleading that they simply don't belong in the academy. That's one of many reasons why law schools were so wrong to publish them.

    But the reverse is also true: Prospective students were entitled to believe that law schools were acting like reasonable academics in making representations. If a guy on the street pulls a watch out of his pocket, tells me it's pure gold, and offers to sell it for $50, I'll be suspicious. But if an accredited law school, staffed with people who are paid high salaries to do careful scholarship, publishes statistics about its own programs and graduates, why shouldn't prospective students take those numbers seriously?

    The sad bottom line is that we have shown that law schools are more like street charlatans than serious academic institutions. But I don't know why prospective students should have been tasked with being the first to discover that.

  167. DJM -- what were the representations? If a school reports salaries based on the number of returns, and that number is small, and the school state that (it was not in fine print in the way that term is used, a statement buried off in tiny, tiny letters in an obscure part of a document) what has the school represented?

    It is not helpful. No. But lots of things in brochures and on websites are not helpful. That is why the better answer is the one being contemplated now--do not require schools to report salary information. It is difficult to gather accurate information and reports based on low responses do not tell students much. If schools do choose to report, they must do as NYLS did: give the percentage of students from the class who responded.

  168. school states that

  169. In addition, as the judge said, the plaintiffs were really argiuing against the standards put forth by the ABA. But, for some reason, they are not going after the ABA.

  170. Arguing-- sorry for the typos.

  171. 1:39 p.m.--the misrepresentation was that the salaries were representative, when the law schools knew how and why they were very biased.

    In the world of social science, many surveys have only a 20% response rate. A 50% rate, which is what some schools had for salary, would be very high for most social science research. When looking at statistics, the question isn't just "what is the response rate?" The question is, "what do we know about possible biases in the survey's method and about the difference between respondents and nonrespondents?"

    For a quick review of this, see the wikipedia entry: It explains that many distinguished surveys have low response rates with representative results. On the other hand, you can have high response rates that still yield biased results--it all depends on the survey method.

    When a group of academics publishes a statistic based on a 20-50% response rate, I think a reader reasonably assumes that the academics know what they are talking about and that the academics have determined that the response is representative.

    Here, we had just the opposite. The law schools *knew* that they received disproportionate responses from high-earning graduates. Indeed, law schools used methods (like filling in publicly reported salaries for graduates in BigLaw) that they knew would distort the data. No reputable academic study, by the way, would do that. Using discretion to fill in some data so clearly biases the results that an undergrad psych major would know better.

    The law schools knew that both their methods and their data were biased, but they didn't make any attempt to disclose those biases. Instead, they pretty brazenly adopted an approach that suggested the data were representative.

    To get back to our reasonable college student applying to law school. If that student has taken any social science courses, the student knows that the response rate doesn't matter as much as any biases in the survey method. I think the student could assume that a law school would not engage in egregious biasing techniques like filling in data for some respondents but not others. (Doing that is legitimate for some in-house purposes, but it clearly biases any reported results.) I think the student could also assume that, just as her college professors disclosed any biases in articles they published, discussed those biases in class, and would have required students to identify biases in papers submitted for credit, that law schools would note any biases in their reported statistics.

    Especially in an academic context, reporting statistics without information about potential biases suggests that the institution believes that the information is representative. The law schools clearly wanted the students to believe that the salaries were representative; otherwise, why publish them?

  172. To Professor Campos, the Good Professor:

    My advice as an experienced blogger is to keep this post running for a while--a few more days at least.

    Blogging is more about giving than taking, and so long as you are getting so many comments on this post, save your response.

    It will take some time to think thru all the comments anyway, and all and oh well, you must know by now how thankless it all is for putting oneself out there and all.

  173. I think the judge misunderstood the role of the ABA in employment reporting. The ABA does not require schools to publish salary information. Nor does the ABA itself publish salary information about individual law schools. On post graduate outcomes, the ABA currently requires schools only to disclose "fair and accurate" placement rates and bar passage data. Most of the ABA's "consumer information standards" apply to other issues, such as accurate course listings and transfer policies.

    So a school may publish salary information if it is "fair and accurate," but it has no obligation to report salaries. "Placement rates" is a narrower concept that doesn't require salaries and other detail about placement. Rather than complying with ABA rules, I think many schools violated the ABA's "fair and accurate" mandate in the way they reported salaries. Again, the flaw was reporting salaries that they knew were biased without, in most cases, any attempt to note the biases.

    My bottom line is: If you're an academic institution, you should report data in a responsible, academically sound manner. Law schools have started acting like political campaigns in the way they report data, and that's just wrong. Voters know that they should be wary of what politicians say; I think it's sad that students now have to adopt the same attitude toward law schools. What does that say about us as educators?

  174. It sounds like most of your argument is that the law schools behaved morally wrongly...that is of course, true.

    But at least with this case, they didn't behave legally wrongly.

    Maybe another case will be more fruitful. I'm sure there are some schools that more clearly crossed the legal line.

    Not this one, though.

    Read the fine print, kids, and take nothing for granted.

  175. On another note, this whole post by LawProf is a red herring.

    Forget about the "sophisticated" prospective law student. None of the students (okay, maybe one or two) were alone in this process, so making a complaint about the lack of sophistication of the applicant is a weak argument.

    How many of these students got some input from their parents, brothers, sisters, friends, etc.? So why are you just focusing on the applicant, LawProf? Even if the student did a piss poor research job before signing off on their first semester's tuition (and yes, they're on the hook after semester one, as I can guarantee you if shit was shady they heard about it during that semester from other students), what if they were warned by an OLDER, WISER member of the family or circle of acquaintances and chose to go ahead anyway?

    Does the student bear any responsibility then? How much? This isn't a black and white issue, and if anyone knows how to hide out in the murky gray area it would be a bunch of legal academics.

  176. DJM -- 1:39 here. It was not just a report of salaries based on 20%, there was a breakdown of job categories and a statement of the range of salaries that went from the 20k's to 160k. Only a person engaging in extreme wishful thinking would believe that the school was telling them they were going to make 160k. If the published range is 28k to 160k, why would it be reasonable to fixate on 160k?

    This was a bad case. The others may have better facts for the plaintiffs, but this was not a good case. It is possible to believe that schools should provide greater transparency, and not think this result was wrong. But this is the way of the day, "my team" right or wrong.

  177. 1:39, I don't have the original complaint or supporting documents in the NYLS case, but I don't see anything in the opinion suggesting that the plaintiffs believed they were going to earn $160,000. Their claim is that NYLS misrepresented the average salaries, by failing to disclose its biased methods. A reasonable student, I think, would expect a decent chance of earning the average salary.

    Look, for example, at NYLS's 2010 numbers on the web. These numbers are more candid than the earlier ones; I don't think the plaintiffs were complaining about the 2010 numbers. So this version is the best case for NYLS reporting.

    That 2010 table shows an average salary in private practice of $107,343 and in corporate/business of $83,000. About 70% of NYLS's grads go into those sectors, according to the same report, so let's focus on those.

    It's true that reported private practice salaries range from $35,000 to $160,000. That in itself is not misleading: My guess is that the actual salaries, if we collected data on every full-time private practice salary, fall pretty well within that range. There would be some below $35,000 but most would fall in this range.

    The reported average, however, is NOT representative. It is very unlikely that the average starting salary for all 2010 NYLS entering private practice was anywhere near $107,343. The misrepresentation lies in presenting this number as representative--when NYLS knew quite well that it was not.

    As I read the opinion, the plaintiffs alleged exactly the knowing concealment that (based on my recollection of fraud but without specific knowledge of NY law) should give rise to a claim. I.e., according to the opinion (p. 4), the plaintiffs alleged that NYLS "inflated graduate mean salaries by reporting them based on a small, deliberately selected, intensely solicited, subset of graduates."

    It's the "deliberately selected" and "intensely solicited" parts that give rise to the fraud--not the "small" part that so many people focus on. The school used methods that it knew would create a biased average, knew from other data that the average was in fact biased, and published the average without disclosing the biases. If these allegations are true, moreover, NYLS had special knowledge about the way in which it was collecting information--the biases in reporting method (e.g., filling in data for grads based on publicly available information) were not widely known before the last year. At the very least, the allegations raise factual issues about NYLS's methods and knowledge that shouldn't have been resolved on a motion to dismiss.

    I hasten to add that I don't think NYLS was at all unique in this behavior. Many schools, I think, knew that their processes and data were biased--but published the information without disclosing the biases. This is bad reporting and, when you're asking people to pay money based on those reports, I think it's fraud.

  178. I am of mixed opinions right now. The plaintiffs' attorneys clearly do not know what they are doing. Instead of filing 16 or whatever class actions, they should have just focused on one test case with good facts. The class action approach is not well-suited to this type of case; individual questions will predominate.

    On the other hand, the judge's ruling as LP said is pretty piss-poor. These lawsuits have proceeded past the demurrer/motion to dismiss stage in other states; the judge in the Thomas Jefferson SOL case even noted that the demurrer was "not well taken." I think it is extremely naive and paternalistic to label law students as "highly sophisticated" consumers like derivatives traders or investment banks. The ruling could and should get reversed on appeal, as long as these law school class action attorneys, Davidson and Anzio or whatever, don't screw it up.

  179. 6:29: You are a bar-prep company. Your whole livelihood depends on a steady, preferably large, stream of law graduates to pay you for your prep services. It doesn't surprise me that you would come out against the lawsuits: you profit from the status quo and your standard of living would be impacted if the lawsuits were successful.

    Last but not least, you advertise for Thomas Cooley LS on your site. Nuff' said.

  180. In an interview on the subject, plaintiff's counsel pointed out that the judge strangely use facts that came out after the the plaintiff's were in law school to argue that the plaintiff's should have known about the risks.

    In other words, the judge goes beyond Sophistry. He requires the plaintiffs to have built a time machine to review data that was not available at the time of their decision making.

    This case is truly astounding in terms of (1) the contorted legal analysis (2) shifting jury decisions to the judge and (3) absurdities in terms of how the facts are seen.

  181. NY State case law says

  182. DJM --deliberately selected? Do you mean that reporting the numbers based on all the people who responded is deliberately selecting the respondents? Or do you mean that NYLS asked for information from only a select group of people?

    We disagree about this. Reporting numbers and telling people they are not representative and revealing that they are incomplete is not presumptively fraudulent. It is not useful to people who are going to make the decision on the basis of salary. But not all things that are bad are frauds.

    This is why salary information should not be reported. There is too much chance of misunderstanding (willfully and not) the information no matter how many cautionary points are made.

    5:02 is right about the lawyers. They picked the wrong case and the wrong method. The appearances in the local media set the wrong tone-- there, if my memory serves, one lawyer and one plaintiff did talk about the stats indicating a 90 percent chance of making 160K

  183. And DJM -- speaking of misleading, how about writing in a way that suggests that law professors are gathering, sorting, and publishing this information? You know they do not. And yet you write as if they compiled these stats with the intent to defraud students. Then again, maybe at your school professors are in charge of this. Do you guys do this?

  184. 5:41, the allegation is different from either of the alternatives you pose. I believe the allegation is that NYLS, like a lot of other law schools, did the following: (a) Ask all graduates to fill out the NALP form, which requests lots of detail about employment status. (b) Follow up selectively with graduates who failed to submit the form or left some information off.

    The follow up includes many types of bias. Schools, for example, are allowed to report information gathered second hand. So, if a career services officer googles an unresponsive grad and finds that the grad is an associate at Cravath, the officer can record both that employment outcome and the publicly known starting salary for graduates at Cravath. There is much more salary information about BigLaw than about smaller firms, so this practice biases the salary reports--and schools know that.

    Biases can also emerge in how aggressively officers follow up particular grads. Suppose, for example, that the officer uses LinkedIn and discovers that one graduate is employed as a temporary document reviewer, while another is working for a boutique firm rumored to pay high salaries. Salaries for neither job are in the public domain. Does the officer devote equal energy to following up both grads to obtain salary information? There are systemic incentives to email the boutique associate for salary info but leave the document reviewer alone: The document reviewer already counts as fully "employed"--getting additional info from that grad probably would drag the average salary down. Getting additional information from the boutique associate, on the other hand, has only upside potential. If the grad doesn't respond, there's no loss; if the grad provides a salary, it probably will increase the average salary while also making the data set look more complete.

    I don't know how far NYLS or any other school went in selectively pursuing grads who failed to respond to the first NALP request. The plaintiffs here alleged that the bias was extensive and intentional. It seems to me that's a factual issue. And, as your own question suggests, this is information that law school applicants would NOT have known. There's a lot of misunderstanding about the biases--and potential for very selective follow up--in the collection of law school employment information. But the law schools know how the system works.

  185. 5:41, I believe the allegation is that NYLS, like a lot of other law schools, did the following: (a) Ask all graduates to fill out the NALP form, which requests lots of detail about employment status. (b) Follow up selectively with graduates who failed to submit the form or left some information off.

    The follow up includes many types of bias. Schools, for example, are allowed to report information gathered second hand. So, if a career services officer googles an unresponsive grad and finds that the grad is an associate at Cravath, the officer can record both that employment outcome and the publicly known starting salary for graduates at Cravath. There is much more salary information about BigLaw than about smaller firms, so this practice biases the salary reports--and schools know that.

    Biases can also emerge in how aggressively officers follow up particular grads. Suppose, for example, that the officer uses LinkedIn and discovers that one graduate is employed as a temporary document reviewer, while another is working for a boutique firm rumored to pay high salaries. Salaries for neither job are in the public domain. Does the officer devote equal energy to following up both grads to obtain salary information? There are systemic incentives to email the boutique associate for salary info but leave the document reviewer alone: The document reviewer already counts as fully "employed"--getting additional info from that grad probably would drag the average salary down. Getting additional information from the boutique associate, on the other hand, has only upside potential. If the grad doesn't respond, there's no loss; if the grad provides a salary, it probably will increase the average salary while also making the data set look more complete.

    I don't know how far NYLS or any other school went in selectively pursuing grads who failed to respond to the first NALP request. The plaintiffs here alleged that the bias was extensive and intentional. It seems to me that's a factual issue. And, as your own question suggests, this is information that law school applicants would NOT have known. There's a lot of misunderstanding about the biases--and potential for very selective follow up--in the collection of law school employment information. But the law schools know how the system works.

  186. 6:03, I said that law schools are academic institutions that should live up to academic standards in their representations--and that applicants can reasonably expect that behavior from schools. Under ABA standard 205(b), "The dean and faculty shall formulate and administer the educational program of the law school, including curriculum; methods of instruction; admissions. . . ."

    The dean and faculty can divide this responsibility internally. But even if the dean hoards all power related to admissions, placement, recruiting students, etc, the dean is an academic and surely should make sure the institution acts as an academic one. And at the schools I know, faculty do play a role in both recruiting students and overseeing placement. We have at various times had a "career services committee" with both faculty and student reps. And, in addition to formal service on the admissions committee, our faculty take part in a large number of recruiting events designed to encourage admitted students to attend.

    Faculty don't have to gather career statistics directly or design the website themselves for law school representations to carry an academic imprimatur. At our school, the dean and faculty--not the staff--run the place. Do you think it's different at NYLS?

    By the way, I am enjoying this exchange of views--no joke. This is very helpful in refining some ideas I plan to put into an article. Workshopping on line on a Saturday night!

  187. DJM -- I am enjoying it, too. The charge that NYLS selectively gathered information from its graduates Is just your suspicion. That would require evidence, and there was nothing approaching any indication that plaintiff's lawyers had anything approaching evidence in the material they submitted. Conclusory allegations do not cut it.
    As for lending an imprimatur, that is not the same as the kind of deliberate stuff you are accusing people of doing. I have admired much of what you have written on this blog, but I think your detailed allegations against people you do not know is out of line. You would not like to be treated that way,

    We have the same idea. I will be doing an article, too.

  188. @ 8:15

    One of these cases WILL go to discovery and than all bets are off. You will find the smoking gun.

    That said, I think all the indica of intent to defraud are present if not explicitly, certianly circumstantially.

  189. @8:24 we just disagree, as did the court. Who knows? Perhaps the App.Div. and Court of Appeals, if it comes to that, will reach a different conclusion.

  190. 8:15, we have the same idea except I'm willing to identify myself :) I'm not independently accusing NYLS of anything--I'm reciting what the plaintiffs allege. The allegation of selectively gathering information is in the complaint.

    Tomorrow: on to reasons two and three for disagreeing with the decision.

  191. When I write the piece I will identify myself. : ) And those allegations were just the kind of "bare legal conclusions" that supported dismissal under the CPLR.

  192. 9:31, do you agree that--if there is support for those allegations--they would constitute a violation of NY law? If there is any law school that is doing the selective reporting I outlined above, without disclosing the biases in the method, is that fraud in NY or elsewhere? Or is it enough to disclose the number of "reporting" students, regardless of how those "reports" are gathered? I'm curious about the extent of our disagreement.

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  194. Charles Crawford's post was the best one here.

  195. PRESSURE!

    Oh God I'm Tired. Up all night talking about the student loans again and I hardly slept. PRESSURE! The fucking student Loans. She can't stop talking about them. Every night. Every night. PRESSURE! I gotta find a decent job. Fuck the Law shit by now. Nobody will hire me there. But there's got to be something else I'm qualified for besides Painting. PRESSURE! Where the Fuck do all those resumes go? I mean, I click the button.....and they're Gone. They just....disappear. Forever. PRESSURE! God some of those jobs look so beautiful. It would change my whole life. It would change my Everything would settle down. PRESSURE! So why won't they call me? What's wrong with my resume? I have a Fucking Law Degree. I have a Fucking LAW DEGREE! WHY WON'T THEY HIRE ME? PRESSURE! All those classes. All those years. Thousands of hours. Thousands. Thousands. All those hours of exams. All of that money. My God what a lot of money! All those fucking exams. Why did I talke them. Why? PRESSURE! Three years and the fucking brother in law made close to two hundred thousand at a construction job in that time. He bought a house. he bought a house. Fuck! Look at that guy in my rear view mirror. He's climbing my bumper. PRESSURE! And now his biggest problem is which tattoo to get. The clipper ship or the Hula Girl. The Clipper Ship or the Hula Girl. I'll hit the brakes a litle. That'll stop him. PRESSURE! Oh shit, he almost wiped out. I could have killed him. I gotta calm down. PRESSURE! He's OK, but I'd better turn off here and get outta here. Fuck! I gotta calm down. Driving is Point A to point B. That's all that matters. Relax. Relax. PRESSURE! One of those job applications has to come through. Why won't they call me? How hard is it to get into one of these corporations anyway? PRESSURE! I mean, it's like trying to get into Fucking Fort Knox. What the hell is going on? I have a LAW DEGREE, and nobody will call. It's not like I can't do the job well. I can do the job. I can DO the job. PRESSURE! If I just got the interview I could explain. I could explain. Then they wouldn't be worried about the law degree. PRESSURE! Nothing is working out. NOTHING's working out. Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why? PRESSURE! My wife's not going to wait forever. I don't blame her. PRESSURE! She could just run off with another man. Someone with money. But She Loves me. What a Fuck-up. What a mess. But she Loves me. PRESSURE! But does she really love me? I promised to take care of her.That everything would be fine. It would all be allright. And all I can do now is this painting shit. I'm stuck. If this goes on too much loger I'm out of the job market forever. God it's hard. it's hard, manual labor all day long, and I'm the oldest one on the crew. It's a good thing I always kept in shape, but God my back hurts. My Fucking knees. My fucking knees. I gotta squat less today and kneel instead. I'll be out of the job market forever. Out of the job market forever. PRESSURE! There's one of them now. He's always asking sexual questions about my wife. Why? Why? He always wants to know if I would Fuck my step-daughter. Why? Why? God I hate working with this bunch of low-lifes. The Scum . The Dregs. The Creeps. I have a Law Degree. But even without it, I went to College. I went to College. PRESSURE! What's he got in his hands? What the Fuck? Where did he get that? What God-forsaken factory in this world would make a red plastic penis and balls one inch long? Oh God that is fucking wierd! I think I'm going to lose my mind! Oh God that is fucking wierd! I think I'm going to lose my mind! PRESSURE! "Good Morning" "Good Morning" "Where'd you get that?" "I found it on the ground?" "Oh. Where are we working today?"

  196. To the person who keeps suggesting that NYLS made it clear that their "average", "median", "25th percentile" and "75th percentile" salaries were meant to describe a small unrepresentative sample, and not the population ---

    What you don't seem to be able to understand is that terms like average, median, 25th percentile et. al. as used in their standard meaning are never describing biased samples, they are describing populations from which the sample was unbiasedly selected.

    There is no value in knowing the average, median, 25th percentile or 75th percentile of a biased sample. Why would anyone care to know that information about a group that they know does not tell them ANYTHING about the population they seek to study? In general, why would anyone care to gain knowledge of a tiny subset of information that they know does not represent the question they're exploring? This is as much fraud and dishonesty as there ever was. I can articulate to you how most lies are nothing more than the person selecting a biased set of information and presenting it as the answer to a question.

    If you ask an investor how he did last year and he responds, "30% annual returns [asterix, based on 10% of my investments]" (when he really earned 4% overall), that's a lie. When you ask an applicant about his GPA and he says, "4.0 [asterix, based on 5 classes]" when it's really a 3.2, then that's a lie. When you ask a used car dealer about the car's mileage and he says, "80mpg [asterix, under some driving conditions]" when it's really 20mpg (except when in neutral going down a hill), then that's a lie.

    I can give you a million other example where such attempts would be laughable fraud. Which begs the question as to why Judge Schweitzer decided that law applicants should be the only group on the world not protected from such fraud.

    Judge Schweitzer, in my opinion, should not be on the bench after writing an opinion like that.


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