A federal district court recently dismissed a class action lawsuit brought by the graduates of Cooley Law School. The graduates had accused the school of misrepresenting statistics for graduate job placement.
The graduates claim that their decision to select Cooley Law School was based on misinformation. However, the judge did not agree with these contentions on the ground that purchasing a law degree was in itself not protected by the Michigan Consumer Protection Act. He also said that the action could not be classified as fraud or negligent misrepresentation. The Consumer Protection Act applies to providing property or services primarily for personal or household purposes. This was not applicable on this case since the purchase of the law school’s services was conducted for a commercial or business purpose.
In addition, the judge pointed out that while it may be true that the school’s employment and salary data was incomplete and vague, it was still the responsibility of the students to validate this information and do their own research before deciding to enroll in the school. He said that instead of relying on statistics alone and deciding to spend $100,000 in law school costs, the students should have been more cautious. “With red flags waving and cautionary bells ringing, an ordinary prudent person would not have relied on the statistics to decide to spend $100,000 or more.”
The court also found faults with the statistics and noted that the employment reports were meaningless, inconsistent, confusing and untrustworthy. The court also noted that there was no difference in the statistics of the number of graduates employed part time, full time or on non-legal jobs. Despite this though, the court still considered the plaintiff’s claim unreasonable and stood by its argument that the students should not have relied on two-bare bones statistics when deciding to attend a bottom-tier law school that already had the lowest admission standard in the country. The court held the plaintiffs at fault for not seeking more information related to these statistics.
This dismissal comes on the heels of a New York court’s decision to dismiss an action graduates brought against New York Law School. It is hoped that such incidences will decline because the American Bar Association has changed law school reporting requirements in order to improve the quality of the data that is released with respect to jobs obtained by recent graduates. The reports will also include whether the jobs obtained require a law license or not.