BLS Among Schools Targeted by Alumni Lawsuits
After major lawsuits filed this summer against Thomas Jefferson School of Law, Thomas Cooley Law School and New York Law School, The National Law Journal and Above the Law reported today that BLS will be among fifteen new law schools facing class action suits alleging that the schools defrauded students into enrolling by advertising misleading job statistics to prospective students.
In an email earlier tonight, Jesse Strauss, a BLS alumnus and one of the primary attorneys behind the lawsuits against major law schools, confirmed that his new firm Strauss Law PLLC had not yet filed suit against BLS, but hoped to later this year. Strauss wrote:
As a Brooklyn alum it’s not an easy thing to do but I can’t ask alum of other schools to step up and sue their school if I don’t have the courage to run a suit against my own. It’s a matter of principle. But I had a great experience at Brooklyn and have almost universal praise for the professors there (even the ones that serve as deans). I think it’s a great school and will be an even better one after we clean up this employment data mess.
While a partner at the firm Kurzon Strauss, Strauss first filed the suits against Thomas Cooley and NYLS. Strauss recently left to form the new firm of Strauss Law PLLC which, along with the law offices of David Anziska, will be looking to file the newest suits. They will also take over most duties with the suits against Thomas Cooley and NYLS, though Jeff Kurzon will remain involved in an adjunct capacity.
The firms announced that they intended to file the new suits with the goal of attracting additional plaintiffs, acknowledging to the National Law Journal that they did not yet have sufficient numbers to make out the class actions.
Last month, before any mention had been made of his firm targeting our school, The BLS Advocate interviewed Jesse Strauss for a forthcoming feature on class actions against law schools. During that interview, Strauss spoke frankly about the problem as he saw it affecting BLS, and the practical effect that he felt the suits might have.
In terms of what we hope to accomplish, we obviously want to try to get some damages back to the folks who we allege were defrauded. But more importantly, for the legal education community as a whole, we want to restore rationality to the way legal education is marketed. And I think that that’s a really important point, especially for a place like Brooklyn. You know, I’m a Brooklyn grad, and Brooklyn very well might do a better job of placing its alums in jobs than other schools—they might, I don’t know. They claim that they have a 97.8% job placement rate, or a 98.7% job placement rate, which just isn’t true—we allege. But they probably do a pretty good job of putting alums into jobs. The problem is, you wouldn’t know. Because for any law school’s standing, there’s no reason for Brooklyn Law School to really compete on their ability to put students in jobs, because their 98.7% is 3 percentage points higher than New York Law School’s 95% rate. There’s no meaningful way for somebody to make a determination about whether a law degree is a good investment based on the information that’s been put out there by the law schools.
The other schools targeted are Albany Law School, California Western School of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law, DePaul University College of Law, Florida Coastal School of Law, Hofstra Law School, John Marshall School of Law, Pace University School of Law, Southwestern Law School, St John’s University School of Law, University of Baltimore School of Law, University of San Francisco School of Law, Villanova University School of Law, and Widener University School of Law.
All but two of the law schools targeted in these suits consistently declare alumni employment figures at or above 90%. The plaintiffs’ attorneys also claim that graduates average more than $108,000 in debt.
The BLS Advocate has been following this story closely, and we will be posting our full special report in the coming weeks.
Update: 10/6/11, 3:36 pm: We reached out to the school for comment. A BLS spokesperson responded: “It would premature to comment at this time because we haven’t received any papers in the litigation.”