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Each of the three law schools that have been sued for fraud by graduates this year has now answered with a motion to dismiss. Lawyers for the Thomas M. Cooley Law School filed its motion on Oct. 20, following motions by the Thomas Jefferson School of Law on July 18 and New York Law School on Oct. 13. “It’s time now for the plaintiffs’ claims to be evaluated by the only standard that matters — the rule of law in court,” said Cooley President and Dean Don LeDuc. Four graduates sued Cooley in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan on Aug. 10, claiming the school manipulated postgraduate employment data in order to lure students. Representing the plaintiffs are attorneys Jesse Strauss and David Anziska, who brought a nearly identical suit against New York Law School. In May, Thomas Jefferson law graduate Anna Alaburda sued her alma mater. She is represented by Los Angeles firm Miller Barondess. The complaint faulted Cooley for publicizing employment rates nine months after graduation that include all jobs, not just those that require or prefer a J.D. It also took issue with the fact that Cooley releases graduate salary data based on a relatively small subset of students who report earnings to the school. However, those reporting methods are determined by the American Bar Association and the National Association for Law Placement — a point Cooley argued in its motion to dismiss. “Plaintiffs’ complaint clearly highlights their dissatisfaction with American Bar Association standards for how all law schools report their job placement data, but nowhere do plaintiffs describe any legal claims against Cooley that, in our judgment, have any merit under Michigan law,” said Brent Danielson, chairman of Cooley’s board of directors. Reached just after the motion was filed, Strauss said he was still trying to understand why Cooley was blaming the ABA, NALP and the federal government for his clients’ problems. “It was Cooley that we allege deceptively reported a postgraduate employment rate of between 75 percent and 80 percent over the last decade, and it was Cooley that cashed our clients’ tuition checks,” he said. “The ABA, NALP and the federal government might have allowed the alleged misstatements to happen, but that is the limit of their role.” The motion also argued that claims by at least two of the plaintiffs fell outside the statute of limitations because they had applied to the school before 2005, and the Michigan Consumer Protection Act provides for a six-year deadline. “They complain that they did not get the ‘kind of job’ they thought would be ‘waiting’ for them after law school, but three of the four of them have been employed since graduating from Cooley, two of them own and operate (apparently successful) law firms, and all of them admit that they graduated into ‘one of the grimmest legal job markets in decades’ where salaries for new lawyers have ‘dropped precipitously,’ ” the motion reads. Cooley has a pending defamation suit against Strauss and Anziska. The law school claims the lawyers posted false information about the school on several Web sites in an attempt to drum up plaintiffs for the fraud suit. Contact Karen Sloan at [email protected].

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