Cooley law grads lose appeal over tuition, jobs

Today's lesson: Are graduates of the largest Michigan law school entitled to a tuition refund if they don't find satisfactory jobs?
AP Wire
Jul 31, 2013

Not according to a federal appeals court.

The court ruled Tuesday in a case involving a dozen unhappy graduates from Thomas M. Cooley Law School, which has campuses across Michigan and in Tampa, Fla.

The graduates claimed they were fooled by rosy employment statistics published by the school. The appeals court, however, said Michigan's consumer protection law doesn't apply, and the graduates put too much reliance on Cooley's job survey of other graduates.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, 3-0, affirmed a similar decision by a federal judge in Grand Rapids.

"Our survey was reported accurately, not fraudulently. That's the bottom line of the case," said James Thelen, Cooley's general counsel.

The graduates who sued Cooley said they had difficulty finding full-time, paid jobs. Shane Hobbs of Pennsylvania graduated in 2010 but has worked as a substitute teacher and at a golf course. Danny Wakefield of Utah graduated in 2007 but ended up managing the delivery of phone books, according to the 6th Circuit decision.

The Cooley graduates accused the school of fraud by reporting in 2010 that 76 percent of graduates were employed within nine months. The graduates claimed that should be interpreted as full-time positions requiring a law degree. But it actually included jobs outside law.

The appeals court said it wasn't fraud because it wasn't false. The survey listed the number of graduates in private law practice, government, academia and business.

"I completely disagree that we were painting a rosy picture," Thelen said. "They never bothered to call us and ask what the 76 percent meant."

Cooley's tuition ranges from $34,800 a year for 24 credits to $43,500 for 30 credits. It's slightly less expensive after the first 30 credits. Ninety credits are needed for graduation.

Despite the defeat, an attorney who represented the graduates, Jesse Strauss, believes the lawsuit and similar ones against other schools have improved how job surveys are reported to students. The American Bar Association, for example, has told schools to provide more information about how many graduates are in jobs that require a law degree.

"There's been a general discussion about the value of a law degree. That discussion wasn't in the mainstream before," Strauss said.

Comments

Terribleted

Just go do what most Liberal Lawers do when they get out of law school..Call Odumbo and He will get you a job..Stupid lawsuit..

bigdeal

come on Trib, Odumbo isn't a personal attack? Where are those liberal moderators anyway?

Wingmaster

At least its current news:D, sorry dude I couldn't resist! Guess it just depends on the day!

bigdeal

:D

truthhurts

no kidding...had a troll swear in posts the other day...i guess editors must be busy getting that next big story with correct and relevant pictures.

davewali

Maybe these law school grads can represent college grads who didn't get a job in their chosen field, suing their college. At least they would be working. (THAT WAS SARCASM!)
Cooley grads.....did you pass the bar? If so, Cooley did their job.

Mystic Michael

When I was in college, I met a number of students & former students of Cooley. Based on stories they told me, the place is sleazy. But hey? What better way to train lawyers but to set a "good" example?

For example, Cooley doesn't release grades from the first exam, until AFTER the deadline for a full tuition refund for withdrawal from the program has already passed. They know full well that many of the students will wash out - and they want to make sure they've got their money before it happens.

bigdeal

anyone who would trash talk a place in a public forum because of hearsay is pretty sleazy themselves.
Nothing in life is a given, not even a job you trained and studied for for 4-6 years. These lawyers must be conservatives, they want their MONEY back.

truthhurts

or their liberals and want everything on a silver plater and not have to go out and put some effort into finding a job they trained for and want some else to blame. Can't find a job here?...relocate...that does happen depending on your chosen field

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