On March 12, 2016, I appeared on Fox News’ Fox and Friends (@ffweekend and #betterwithfriends) with host Anna Kooiman (@annakooiman) and Erin Ehrilich (@Erin_Ehrlich) to discuss a California lawsuit where a law school graduate brought a lawsuit against her law school for misrepresenting employment numbers for prior law school graduates which she relied on to apply and enroll in that law school.
As discussed in the appearance, I feel that Law schools should be held accountable for the numbers that are published and relied on. This case is important to highlight that this practice is unacceptable and fraudulent.
It is expected that a former school employee will at trial testify that she was instructed or pressured to inflate graduate employment data. If true, this is appalling. These are numbers released by law schools (and even colleges) so that students rely on them, in part, to select their schools.
Additionally, magazines like Top Law Schools and other “Top” magazines, whose marketing is also questionable, use the statistics to rank these schools. That is the reason why they are released and published… to attract students to their schools. Law school is a major investment for college graduates and they should be able to base their selections on accurate data.
If the misrepresentation is proven, the student will also have to show that she relied on the statistics and that she was damaged by the misrepresentation. Did the student rely on the data? She says she did. Her reliance on the data and whether she was actually damaged will certainly be issues for the jury to decide.
Her damages will be very tough to show, i.e. how this affected her from finding suitable employment but I agree with the Trial Judge and his decision that denying transparent and accurate information to students making decisions about their education can be harmful.
If the published numbers were inaccurate, the law school should not only be responsible, but the Government’s consumer affairs division should step in and sanction the law school for their violations.
I also find that these issues arise in other industries such as the legal services. My partner and I are former NJ prosecutors and certified criminal trial attorneys by the New Jersey Supreme Court. It takes much effort, skill, dedication, and a proven track record to accomplish the Certification distinction. So, it frustrates us to observe many attorney websites (and other advertising in the lawyer market) that make some inexperienced and unqualified lawyers look like a Top Lawyer or Best Lawyer when in fact they are not. It not only is deceptive, it hurts unsuspecting consumers who are entitled to an accurate expression of an attorney’s skill and level of expertise.