Thursday, September 13, 2012
Most of us think very little. However, the author of this Note disagrees.
Abstract: Recently, law school graduates have faced the worst entry-level legal employment market in half a century. Many in this “Lost Generation” of law students may never enjoy the opportunity to practice law in a meaningful way, much less obtain any significant return on the time and (usually borrowed) money they invested in their legal education. Given the vast discrepancy between the employment prospects these students anticipated and the employment opportunities they actually enjoy, many feel that their law schools misled them about the economic value of the education those schools provide. Believing their alma maters have caused them legally cognizable injuries, alumni of at least fifteen law schools have even filed purported class-action lawsuits seeking tens of millions of dollars in damages for those alleged injuries. Although the true significance of these lawsuits cannot be fully appreciated at this time, the lawsuits have already contributed to the goals of the law school transparency movement, and those with an interest in legal education will certainly follow the lawsuits with great interest. This Note will explore the impact of this new type of class-action litigation by focusing primarily on three lawsuits that were filed in 2011 — Alaburda v. Thomas Jefferson School of Law, Gomez-Jimenez v. New York Law School, and MacDonald v. Thomas M. Cooley Law School. Specifically, this Note argues that class-action lawsuits against individual law school might usefully supplement other potential methods for persuading law schools to heed the calls for increased transparency, and will continue to serve a purpose even if the legal education industry adopts — or is made to adopt — additional reform in that area.