Law schools sued by alumni who can't find work

A group of recent law graduates has sued a dozen law schools, saying the institutions misled them about job and salary prospects.

Tess Vigeland: The setup to this next story sounds a bit like a bad joke. What do a bunch of lawyers do when they can't get jobs?

They sue, naturally.

Yesterday, a group of recent law graduates sued a dozen law schools. They say the schools misled them about job and salary prospects. It's not even the first time this week that a school has been accused of false advertising.

From the Marketplace Education Desk at WYPR in Baltimore, Amy Scott reports.

Amy Scott: When Adam Bevelacqua applied to Brooklyn Law School, its job placement rates were a big selling point. He says the school reported that at least 90 percent of students found work after they graduated.

Adam Bevelacqua: Unless I was like the bottom 10 percent of the class, or something like that, I was virtually guaranteed legal employment within nine months of graduation.

He graduated almost nine months ago -- with $100,000 in debt -- and passed the bar on the first try. Since then, he’s only been able to find temp jobs outside the legal profession.

Bevelacqua: Anything from data entry to front desk-type work to babysitting, which is actually what I’m doing right now.

Bevelacqua is part of the group suing law schools for allegedly inflating their employment figures by hiring their own graduates for temporary work, or counting employment in other industries. Job placement data influence a school’s standing in the all-important U.S. News and World Report rankings. Earlier this week, Claremont McKenna College admitted it inflated students’ SAT scores to boost its ranking.

William Henderson teaches law at Indiana University. He says the rankings have become too important.

William Henderson: And frankly, I have a lot of sympathy for the deans on that front, because the alumni and the students are inconsolable when the rankings go down.

The American Bar Association, which accredits many law schools, is making changes. It will require schools to report more detailed numbers. Henderson says that won’t take the pressure off, but it will give applicants more useful information.

I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.
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I don't mean to sound insensitive but when graduates of the top/name schools are having problems finding good jobs, and the Great Recession saw layoffs at all levels even senior partner, it is hard to imagine graduates of Tier II and III schools doing much better.

But to show that school is not a factor, there is charitable pro bono work or hanging your own shingle to create your own practice. Do well and you will attract a top law firm when things get better.

My heart BLEEDS for these POOR lawyers. If they had any ambition beyond working for a big firm and being a partner in a couple of years they would hang out their own shingle out of wherever they live even under a bridge and start doing what they can to find some business. Of course this brings up the need for all the people entering and eventually graduating law schools. Flipping Burgers at a fast food establishment is worth more to the WHOLE Economy!

Recent law school graduate Adam Bevelacqua is looking for truth, justice and a job working in law! Who can blame him for being frustrated...........he has worked hard to get a good education with high grades and now just wants an opportunity to work as was advertised when he signed up and borrowed all that money for law training. What a system!

This is the problem with all for-profit education. Like the banks that make the loans, schools can afford to be indifferent and even engage in fraud to keep the money rolling in. It will take more than one lawsuit to change the status quo, though. At best, it will end in a “consumer beware” disclaimer next to where students sign on the dotted line: “I fully acknowledge that I have less than a 2% chance of ever finding employment in my field (or similar amount according to field and current inflated rate fabricated by industry), and that I have no recourse to bankruptcy. I agree to enslave myself indefinitely, regardless of personal circumstances and the whims of Wall Street, and fully understand that my obligations may retroactively result in debtors’ prison should such legislation succeed in worming its way through an entirely corrupt Congress.” I recently looked into the cost of chef school for the heck of it; something I thought of doing about fifteen years ago: $45,000 for an A.S. degree; $73,000 for a B.A. I called a school (’95) to get a line on the average pay for graduates back then (when it was $35,000). The rep. was very honest: “Oh, about $8 an hour.” Maybe it’s time to revisit the social and economic benefits of working guilds. Considering the cost of education and the means by which graduates enter the workplace (for-profit temp. and employment agencies in the service of employers); the investment required by students in both time and financial obligation, with loans being non-dischargeable in a bankruptcy filing; and the conflict of interest and moral hazard that accompanies all steps of the process (work at McDonalds for the rest of your life? No problem), compared to the 21st Century, The Middle Ages are looking pretty darn benevolent.

Good that those lawyers don't get work. Most of our politicians are lawyers and they write the tax laws. Have you done your taxes and how did that go? And also the Constitution promises a speedy trial. Th e courts are jammed and a 'speedy' trial can take years. The laws are so complicated with all sorts of loopholes-designed to keep lawyers working.
Lawyers don't create wealth, they redistribute it.
The yellow pages go on and on with -attorneys just looking for work.
Our country would be better off with more workers and less lawyers.

Wallstreet and the Big Banks have armies of lawyers to circumvent the tax code. Then when their capitalist enterprise fail they get our government bail-out to keep them going. Great huh?

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