Cooley dodges pricey bullet

Court upholds Cooley jobs reporting practices

LANSING, MI--The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit today affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit brought by several graduates of Thomas M. Cooley Law School, who had claimed the law school misrepresented the percentage of its graduates who obtain legal employment after graduation. The Court of Appeals agreed with a lower court that the plaintiffs could not prove Cooley's reported employment statistics were false because the numbers Cooley reported were instead literally true.

In its opinion, the Court held that, "because the Michigan Consumer Protection Act does not apply to this case's facts, because the graduates' complaint shows that one of the statistics on which they relied was objectively true, and because their reliance on the statistics was unreasonable, we AFFIRM the district court's judgment dismissing their complaint for failure to state any claim upon which it could grant relief."

The Sixth Circuit, like the U.S. District Court that dismissed the case in July 2012, was required to assume the plaintiffs' allegations were all true, and held that the case had no legal merit anyway. Had the lower court dismissal been overturned on appeal, the plaintiffs would have been required to prove their allegations were true, a legal hurdle they had not yet met in the case.

"From its start," noted Don LeDuc, Cooley's President and Dean, "this case, and others like it, has been nothing more than a misguided crusade, brought by lawyers who had to search for their clients on social media, to shift blame onto law schools for the difficulty of finding jobs in a recessionary economy. And yet the legal profession always has been, and remains, one of the most resilient professions with one of the lowest unemployment rates of any profession."

"Now that a federal court of appeals has ruled in this matter," LeDuc continued, "no one can credibly say any longer that any accredited law school that followed American Bar Association and National Association for Law Placement guidelines in reporting the basic employment status of its graduates, as Cooley did, was misleading anyone."

Lawrence Nolan, chair of Cooley's Board of Directors and a member of Cooley's first graduating class who is in line to be President of the State Bar of Michigan, was pleased with the case's outcome. "I'm glad the Court of Appeals closed this chapter of litigation against the school," he said. "Cooley prides itself on giving graduates a solid practical legal education, and our employment reports illustrate the many different ways our graduates can be successful in business, government, and private law practice.

The case is titled John MacDonald, Jr., et al. v. Thomas M. Cooley Law School and Does 1-20.

Published: Mon, Aug 5, 2013

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