Would you sue your law school if you failed to get a job?

Apparently so if you are American.  An American attorney is suing 14 law schools on behalf of a number of unemployed law graduates for allegedly misrepresenting their graduate employment statistics. 

Jesse Strauss is taking on 14 law schools (apparently these are mostly low ranked schools), accusing them of lying and falsifying their consistently excellent graduate job statistics.

Jesse Strauss appeared before the New York Supreme Court to face one of the defendants, which was New York Law School (NYLS).  NYLS had filed a motion to dismiss the claim. They charge $46,200 a year for their degree and are ranked 135th in the country, and they boast that for the past five years 90-92% of their graduates have achieved full-time employment nine months after graduation. This seems impressive, until someone examined the statistics and realised that NYLS stipulate that employment can be anything from Lawyer to toilet cleaner – and that is not a job you really want to be doing if you have spent $46,200 per year on Law School Fees.

NYLS told the court that the way it calculated its employment statistics was absolutely fine as it complied with the rules of the American Bar Association. NYLS also made it clear that they believed that none of the claimants could show the school’s actions caused them harm. Jesse Strauss believes that the claimants can show they have suffered harm, for example in his argument he referred to one of the claimants who is currently working in Starbucks, which utilises no legal skills whatsoever. He claimed “that students have “overpaid for their degrees”. 

Many Law schools across America await the ruling from the judges, and students wait to see how this may impact them also. Regardless of the outcome, it is a positive that there is now a spotlight on a serious problem: In America it is estimated that every year there are 43,000 graduates from US law schools, with debts averaging $100k, competing for less than half that number of jobs. So what are the unlucky graduates meant to do?

Jess Strauss highlights something quite depressing as he noted that in fact fewer than 40% of the law school graduates had found jobs for which they actually needed a law degree – yet these graduates like everyone need money to live and so after plenty of job searching in the legal field had to take which ever job arose just to make money.  Plus as no doubt many HR Consultants will say, it is far better to be working (in any field) and job hunting (in your chosen field) than have no job at all!

After reading that article it highlighted to me that it is not just the UK that are under pressure on this – with far too many graduates competing for a relatively small amount of jobs, Training Contracts and Pupillages.  As someone who regularly follows the news on how the situation is here in the UK with regard to BPTC students obtaining Pupillages and knowing people that are still waiting to obtain one, the UK is very much like America.  With students (who bring with them copious amounts of debt) who have obtained law degrees and either professional qualifications or post graduate courses  competing to put their knowledge and skills to work, yet waiting years for the chance.

Something definitely needs to be done to resolve this – so it will be interesting to see what sort of an impact this will have in America and whether it will then be looked at in other countries as well!

rebecca x


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