December 22, 2012

LEGAL EDUCATION UPDATE: Appellate Court Affirms Dismissal of Placement Data Lawsuit Against New York Law School.

Plaintiffs allege that the disclosures cause them to enroll in school to obtain, at a very high price, a law degree that proved less valuable in the market-place than they were led to expect. We hold that defendant’s disclosures, though unquestionably incomplete, were not false or misleading. We thus affirm the dismissal of the complaint. . . .

We are not unsympathetic to plaintiffs’ concerns. We recognize that students may be susceptible to misrepresentations by law school. As such, “[t]his Court does not necessarily agree [with Supreme Court] that [all] college graduates are particularly sophisticated in making career or business decisions” (MacDonald, 2012 WL 2994107, at *10). As a result, they sometimes make decisions to yoke themselves and their spouses and/or their children to a crushing burden because the schools have made misleading representations that give the impression that a full time job is easily obtainable when in fact it is not.

Given this reality, it is important to remember that the practice of law is a noble profession that takes pride in its high ethical standards. Indeed, in order to join and continue to enjoy the privilege of being an active member of the legal profession, every prospective and active member of the profession is called upon to demonstrate candor and honesty. This requirement is not a trivial one. For the profession to continue to ensure that its members remain candid and honest public servants, all segments of the profession must work in concert to instill the importance of those values. “In the last analysis, the law is what the lawyers are. And the law and the lawyers are what the law schools make them.” Defendant and its peers owe prospective students more than just barebones compliance with their legal obligations. Defendant and its peers are educational not-for-profit institutions. They should be dedicated to advancing the public welfare. In that vein, defendant and its peers have at least an ethical obligation of absolute candor to their prospective students.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but a win’s a win and I’m sure New York Law School will take it. Just remember this stuff when you hear academics going off about greedy businesses that prey on consumers. . . .