Are prospective law students savvy, college-educated consumers or naive 20-somethings easily taken in by rosy employment projections? That question was one of several before Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Melvin Schweitzer (See Profile) during a two-hour hearing on March 12 as he considered a motion to dismiss a suit brought by nine graduates of New York Law School against their alma mater. The plaintiffs, seeking class status, allege in Gomez-Jimenez v. New York Law School, 652226/2011, they were lured to enroll by misleading postgraduate employment data published by the school. They filed suit in August, claiming the school committed fraud and negligent misrepresentation, and violated the state’s general business law regarding deceptive acts and practices in reporting for several years beginning during the mid-2000s that about 90 percent of its students had secured jobs nine months after graduating.
Venable partner Michael Volpe, representing New York Law School, offered Justice Schweitzer numerous reasons to dismiss the complaint, including that the plaintiffs have failed to show that the law school’s actions caused them harm and that administrators never guaranteed law students a job or a specific salary. “What this case appears to be is that the plaintiffs just didn’t get the job they wanted now, a few months or a couple of years after law school,” Mr. Volpe said. “Success in the law takes time.”
Jesse Strauss, a sole practitioner representing the plaintiffs along with attorneys David Anziska and Frank Raimond, insisted the issue was not the employment outcomes of the plaintiffs; some of them have found jobs in the law but at least one was working at Starbucks. “The harm here is that our clients overpaid for a degree that is worth substantially less,” he said.
The judge did not rule, but appeared skeptical of both sides’ arguments. In particular, he appeared somewhat incredulous at Mr. Raimond’s assertion that the plaintiffs were not sophisticated consumers.