Dogs bark. Birds sing. Snakes bite. Lawyers sue.
Or is there more to it than that?
I’m referring to the series of class action lawsuits being brought against law schools claiming they systematically misled students/applicants about such presumably material things as very high post-graduation employment rates; the underlying cause of action is consumer fraud.
Adam Smith, Esq. is not about debating, much less taking a stand on or purporting to resolve, the merits of litigation, so this column is not about that. I’m sure every reader is more than competent to form their own opinion over who has the better argument.
For the record: Roughly, the plaintiffs contend that schools are cooking their post-employment numbers, claiming “sterling” placement rates of 90% or better, in an effort to attract students willing to pay [or borrow] roughly $45,000/year for three years. Similarly, the defense asserts something akin to what William Robinson, head of the ABA, told Reuters:
“It’s inconceivable to me that someone with a college education, or a graduate-level education, would not know before deciding to go to law school that the economy has declined over the last several years and that the job market out there is not as opportune as it might have been five, six, seven, eight years ago.”
The only additional observation I would offer is that last year 9,787 souls graduated from New York State-based law schools and the best estimate is that 2,100 new jobs requiring bar passage were generated that same year (27.5%, for those doing the math at home). But this isn’t about the merits.
My thrust is quite different: Don’t you have to marvel at the passion the plaintiffs’ lawyers are bringing to this?
New York Magazine profiles the three bringing these suits: David Anziska and Jesse Strauss, Manhattan-based lawyers in the early 30’s, “veterans of big corporate firms,” who are orchestrating the cases, and who were joined last fall by Frank Raimond (31), a six-year veteran of the New York City Law Department who resigned to join Anziska and Strauss in the cause.
What do they think of their odds? As Strauss puts it, “I think everyone is cheering for us, but not necessarily betting on us.”
What motivates them?
Raimond did have some second thoughts, such as the fact “that I wouldn’t have a job” and therefore might have trouble affording rent and food. But in late November, he waved good-bye to his colleagues at the city and settled into the lower-Broadway offices, alongside his new partners. “Honestly, I didn’t see I had a choice,” Raimond says. “How many times in life do you get a chance to work on something that you really see as a profound wrong, with other people who are as passionate about it as you are, with an outside shot of pulling it off?”
We can get jaded, or obsessed with our own worlds of who’s up and who’s down, so every once in awhile it’s refreshing, even inspiring, to stand back and enjoy the sight of people passionate about a cause and trying to use the law to (culturally exhausted bromide coming) “do good.”