I just read a Boston Globe article about
agreeing to pay $100
million to settle a lawsuit. (Hat tip to “the Chow.”) The suit
alleged that DeVry provided misleading employment data to prospective
students. The school had boasted a 90
percent employment rate. However, “DeVry
was counting students who found jobs outside the fields they studied” including
“a graduate who studied in the health care field but found work as a restaurant
server and another who worked as a car salesman[.]” DeVry
But the false-advertising lawsuits that were filed against law schools ended quite differently. Most judges in most states dismissed these lawsuits outright, holding that if prospective law students were willing to believe what a law school was putting in the brochure, so to speak, it was their own fault. In other words: buyer beware.
one lawsuit against a law school made it all the way to a jury. According to this New York Times article, had boasted “that just over 80 percent of its graduates were employed nine
months after they graduated.” But the plaintiff claimed that T-Jeff Law “did not reveal that its employment figures
included such work as a pool cleaner, waitress or sales clerk[.]” Thomas
Jefferson Law School
So far, the cases seem very similar: the schools’ definitions of “employed graduates” include a “restaurant server” and “car salesman” on the one hand; and a “waitress,” and “sales clerk” on the other. Sure, the “pool cleaner” was unique to T-Jeff Law, but still. Anyway, when the dust settled the jury found T-Jeff not guilty – or not liable or whatever they say in civil court.
These differing outcomes could be reconciled. The T-Jeff case went to a jury; the DeVry case settled. The T-Jeff case was brought by a lone plaintiff; the DeVry case had the power of the FTC behind it. The T-Jeff case was about an applicant who was already a college graduate and (arguably) should have known that the employment data was unreliable; the DeVry case involved high school grads who were less sophisticated. And on and on.
But in the end, there is one thing that simply cannot be explained. After the jury’s verdict, the Dean of T-Jeff Law said: “Today’s decision by the jury further validates our unwavering commitment to providing our students with the knowledge, skills and tools necessary to excel as law students, pass the bar exam and succeed in their professional careers.”
Dean, don’t you know that people are going to hear that, reporters are going to quote that, and then T-Jeff’s bar exam results are eventually going to be published? Well, they recently were.
Only 31 percent of T-Jeff Law grads passed the
bar, which ties the school with two others at #18 out of 21 ABA
accredited law schools in California. For those prospective law students who aren’t
good with math or statistics, that means that only one of the state’s
law schools did worse than T-Jeff.
And if you don’t understand why there aren’t two or even three schools
beneath #18 T-Jeff, then you don’t have a prayer of deciphering law school