Tuesday, October 19, 2010
A Boston College 3L -- who describes himself as "desperate," "discouraged," "scared," "hopeless,""terrified," and "resentful" -- has posted an "open letter" to the dean of Boston College Law School offering an unusual deal:
I’d like to propose a solution to this problem: I am willing to leave law school, without a degree, at the end of this semester. In return, I would like a full refund of the tuition I’ve paid over the last two and a half years.
This will benefit both of us: on the one hand, I will be free to return to the teaching career I left to come here. I’ll be able to provide for my family without the crushing weight of my law school loans. On the other hand, this will help BC Law go up in the rankings, since you will not have to report my unemployment at graduation to US News.
(Via TaxProf). It's hard not to feel sympathy for law students caught in a brutal job market that few people foresaw two years ago -- I have students in this situation -- but the most striking thing about this particular letter is the writer's apparent total refusal to take any share of responsibility for the decision. That's not a good trait for a future lawyer.
Over at Above the Law, though, Elie Mystal is much more sympathetic:
If you buy something, and it’s a piece of crap, you should be able to give it back and get your money back. Boston College sold him a promise, and Boston College cannot fulfill that promise; why can’t he get his money back?
But this is a very bad analogy. If you buy a new television so that you can watch the Yankees in the World Series, you can't return it because the Yankees are knocked out and the set is now useless to you. The 3L is paying for a credential which will do precisely what it was promised to do: permit you to take the bar exam.
A better doctrine might be mutual mistake, assuming that at the time the contract was made both parties assumed that BC grads would have no trouble getting jobs upon graduation; that this was a "basic" assumption on which the contract was based; and that the lack of jobs had a "material effect" on the exchange. See Rest. 2d (Contracts) § 152.