Like most everyone, attorneys are finding themselves unemployed. Recently, several law school graduates have sued their schools for misleading them about the likelihood that they would be gainfully employed after graduation. Specifically, the lawsuits pointed to the schools’ published employment statistics, alleging that they were inflated and that new graduates were not employed at as high of a rate as the schools claimed.
Three Chicago law schools have been among those sued – John Marshall, Chicago-Kent, and DePaul. The lawsuit against DePaul was dismissed earlier this fall and the other two were just dismissed this month for the same reason.
The recent graduates claimed they could not find jobs in the tough legal market and claimed that the schools misled them into believing their chances of landing a job would be easier. For example, the DePaul students claimed they were told 88-89% of graduates were employed after graduation but they were not told that many of those graduates were not employed full time in legal positions.
The judges in these cases say that it was not the schools’ fault that the students couldn’t find attorney jobs and that the students’ rights were not violated because the school didn’t owe them a fiduciary duty to provide accurate employment statistics in the first place. So the fact that the case was dismissed doesn’t necessarily mean that the law schools didn’t lie. It just means the students didn’t have a good case, legally speaking.
It’s a shame, because something needs to change. I think it’s pretty clear that law schools are partly to blame for the large number of unemployed attorneys. It’s in their best interest to overstate their employment statistics in order to encourage more students to apply. If they were being honest, they would be upfront about the chances of getting a job after school. To do this, they would have to decide that losing applicants was ok, and I bet they’re not willing to do that. They’re in the business of making money and students pay plenty of it to get a legal education that may or may not do them any good.
I’m not saying law school is a bad choice for everyone, just that potential students need to have all the facts in order to make a good decision and law schools are in the best position to provide those facts.
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