A Michigan federal district court recently dismissed a class action lawsuit brought by graduates of Cooley Law School who accused the School of misrepresenting statistics for recent graduate job placement.
The graduates argued that they only decided to go to Cooley Law after the school provided them with what they claimed to be misinformation. The judge disagreed with the plaintiffs’ contentions, pointing out that purchasing a law degree was not protected by the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, nor did it constitute fraud or negligent misrepresentation. Specifically, the consumer protection act only applies to providing property or services primarily for personal or household purposes, whereas the plaintiffs purchased the law school’s services for a business or commercial purpose.
In his opinion, the judge noted that while the Law School’s employment and salary data were “vague and incomplete”, the students should have relied on more than just statistics when deciding whether to enroll or not.
The judge pointed out that prospective students should not have relied on the statistics alone to decide whether to spend upwards of $100,000 in law school costs. Instead, they should have approached the expensive decision with extreme caution. “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 did find fault with the statistics, noting that its employment reports were meaningless and “inconsistent, confusing, and inherently untrustworthy.” For example, the statistic regarding the number of graduates employed did not differentiate between part-time, full-time and non-legal jobs.
Notwithstanding this defect, the court asserted that “it would be unreasonable for Plaintiffs to rely on two-bare bones statistics in deciding to attend a bottom-tier law school with the lowest admission standard in the Country,” the judge noted.
The court also faulted the plaintiffs for not seeking information to clarify questions relating to the employment report.
This court decision comes on the heels of a New York court’s decision to dismiss an action graduates brought against New York Law School.
The American Bar Association recently changed law school reporting requirements by improving the quality of the data being released regarding jobs recent graduates are obtaining. Now the reports include data about whether the jobs being obtained require a law license or not.