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New York Law Students Suing School For Not Handing Them Jobs

One of the benefits of law school, according to middle-class parents everywhere, is that three years of hellishly hard work and thousands upon thousands of dollars in debt will pay off with a job at a fancy firm with $100K to start. We were under the impression that this is usually an implicit understanding, not explicitly stated by law schools themselves. But three New York Law School graduates are suing the school for just that, alleging that NYLS told them that 95% of grads get a job right out of school -- and the number isn't true.

Alexandra Gomez-Jimenez, Scott Tiedke and Katherine Cooper claim that the school perpetrates a "systemic, ongoing fraud that is ubiquitous in the legal education industry and threatens to leave a generation of law students in dire financial straits."

The suit alleges that the school lied in its claim in materials for prospective students that "the overwhelming majority of its students -- 90-95 percent -- secure employment within nine months of graduation."

Quite the claim. Interestingly enough, all three plaintiffs are currently employed. Jesse Strauss, one of the lawyers in the suit, told us that "I don't know exactly why that happened, we were approached by a lot of different people. Everyone else is afraid that if they do this they have even less of a chance of getting jobs."

He also said that "we don't know the actual employment numbers, but we suspect that they're shockingly low." According to the NYLS website, the school's employment stats range from 84% to to 92% of graduates employed, based on four different metrics. For 2010, the numbers looked like this, based on 95% of the graduating class reporting (out of a class of 481):

New York Law Students Suing School For Not Handing Them Jobs

The problem, according to the suit, is less the number itself and more that a lot or most of those employed people didn't end up with actual law jobs, which NYLS allegedly did not make clear. "What they're supposed to be talking about is jobs where a J.D. is required or preferred," Strauss said.

And so some students are graduating with a ton of debt and few job prospects in their industry. Sounds like every other type of higher education in the country. The suit was filed this week for $200 million. The dean of New York Law School, Richard A. Matasar, released this statement: "These claims are without merit and we will vigorously defend against them in court."

Lawyers versus lawyers! Is it comforting or awful to know that law school graduates are subject to the same economic woes as everyone else?

[rgray@villagevoice.com] [@_rosiegray]

Go to Runnin' Scared for more Voice news coverage.


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