Frustrated with their unemployment, law graduates are suing their alma maters, accusing their schools of false employment and salary data.
Earlier this month, eight law firms took to the allegations and banded together to sue 12 law schools. The main allegations revolve around the premise that these law schools lured in graduates with high percentages of employment post-graduation and inflated salary statistics.
These class action lawsuits join three others that were filed in 2011 against New York Law School and the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. In total, more than 70 graduate students and 15 law schools dispersed across the country are involved.
Included in the new lawsuits are Albany, Brooklyn, Hofstra and John Marshall law schools. All reported an employment rate higher than 90 percent, according to AboveTheLaw.com. However, some graduates are not finding jobs despite the numbers.
The pending lawsuits reflect an increase in graduates who are pursuing careers in an industry where employment and salary data produced doesn’t always reflect the current job market.
“It’s like stock markets,” said Wayne Moore, a pre-law adviser at Virginia Tech. “You can report the past performance of stock markets, and often times there’s a disclaimer at the bottom saying past performance is not a guarantee of future performance. So I think it’s kind of like that in terms assuming that the data is accurate, which is in question, doesn’t necessarily mean the patterns over the past 10 years or so would replicate themselves in the future.”
Moore helps Tech students, who are interested in pursuing a higher education in law, make intelligent and informative decisions when considering law schools. There are many factors students should take into account when looking at law schools, one being the amount of money needed to pay for tuition.
On average, law graduates face $100,000 in debt due to student loans, according to U.S News Education data.
“I think it’d be a mistake to say one should not go to law school categorically if it required to go into debt,” Moore said. “It’s an individual decision to make. By the same token, the amount of debt is something to consider.”
Moore recommends students take into account a school’s location and reputation, as well as the current job market because “perceived tightness in the job market is manifesting itself in these lawsuits to the extent that people are not happy about the fact that they're not getting jobs.”
“Not everyone who graduates law school gets a job — that’s a new fact pre-law students have to get used to,” said Erica Largen a junior environmental policy and planning and communication double major.
Largen plans to apply to law schools depending on her LSAT score.
During the 2009-10 academic year, 87 Tech seniors and 139 alumni applied to 173 law schools, according to university data. Seventy-four percent of degree holders were admitted into 123 different law schools. And 83 percent of graduating seniors were admitted to one or more law schools.
But even if a student gains admission to their selected school, there is no guarantee they will find a job after graduation.
“Many people consider law as a career choice in large part due to the expectations of a high income upon graduating, and when law students fail to find jobs within a poor job market and are tens of thousands dollars in debt, it really places a huge financial burden on these graduates,” said Jake Adams, a senior political science major.
Adams plans to take his LSATs in the fall and said the current lawsuits affect Tech students who may want to study law after graduation.
“All Tech students interested in a future career in law should be concerned with the outcome of these lawsuits and should fully consider all of the information associated with law schools when contemplating law as a career,” he said.
There has been no set trial date for the lawsuits.