Tuesday, February 21, 2012
This is an informative news segment about the lawsuits, including one of the plaintiffs against John Marshall Law School, as well as Dean David Yellen of Loyola-Chicago who makes a number of good points. As Dean Yellen notes--and as a reading of the complaints (which are largely cut-and-paste jobs, sometimes with the wrong school name showing up!) reveals--it's not clear that these law schools reported anything other than what NALP required them to report (of course, if discovery reveals otherwise, those law schools are going to be, deservedly, in hot water). If that turns out to be the case, that will complicate the reliance claims: plaintiffs will probably have to show they simply would not have gone to law school at all, since it's hard to see how they were damaged if they simply would have gone to a different school reporting via the NALP standards. Class certification in these lawsuits also seems extremely unlikely, given the individual reliance claims needed to establish many of the claims, and also given the aggressive and perhaps manipulative way in which the attorneys have recruited plaintiffs (through Craig's list etc.). On the other hand, I take seriously my former colleague Mark Gergen's assessment that individual restitution claims may have merit, and be sufficient to push these lawsuits forward.
A final question, of course, given the obvious obstacles to these suits succeeding is what the plaintiff's attorneys are really after. One theory I've heard is that they're hoping that the ABA and/or AALS will broker some kind of settlement.
The good news, as Dean Yellen notes, is that the move to better reporting standards on employment data is already in process, prompted, one suspects, more by pointed inquiries from U.S. Senators than from lawsuits of dubious merit.