Posted on Mar 23, 2012

A recent ruling by a New York trial court judge has created a setback for nine graduates of the New York Law School who brought suit for fraud, saying they were mislead by employment data released by the school. Justice Melvin L. Schweitzer held that the action had no merit and was essentially a case of caveat emptor — let the buyer of a legal education beware. The New York Time's Dealb%k blog, quoted the justice as saying:

"[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 postcollege options."

He went on to say that "In this court’s view, the issues posed by this case exemplify the adage that not every ailment afflicting society may be redressed by a lawsuit."

That may be true; we are living in a more litigious society, filled with often-times silly and bizaar lawsuits, and perhaps the justice was trying to curb that enthusiasm just a bit. But his assessment of law school applicants and their "sophistication" may have missed the mark. A great majority of them are 22-year-old kids fresh out of college barely over the drinking age. They have not really experienced the world yet, but because they are applying to a law school rather than a graduate school for a master's in, for example, fine arts, they are somehow more savvy.

Naturally, their attorney, David Anziska, has indicated that he will appeal. He called the ruling,

“one setback in a long-term process. . . We always expected for many of these issues to ultimately be resolved on an appellate level. Moreover, we fully intend to soldier on and to sue many more law schools in the forthcoming weeks and months ahead.”

This is just one suit of many for Mr. Anziska, who has brought suit against 14 schools, including Widener University Law School in Delaware, Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Detroit and Southwestern Law School in California, so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Although I understand the justice's ruling here as far as curbing litigation, I think he is, pardon the pun, setting the bar too high for law school applicants, while turning away from the possibility that law schools have been actively defrauding people in order to prop up enrollment in a shrinking legal job market. It will be interesting to see what happens.

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