How To Make A Mockery Of Your Own Law School: Sue Your Critics

from the oops dept

Someone named "tuna" was the first of a few of you to point us to the ongoing debacle that is the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. Apparently administrators there aren't too happy about the fact that some of its students were not pleased with the school, and gave the school negative reviews online. So, rather than responding to the complaints or figuring out ways to improve, the school filed a lawsuit to determine the identity of four anonymous people online who wrote mean things about the Thomas M. Cooley Law School. One of the anonymous people has filed a motion to quash against the school's efforts:
"In contrast to their own mission statement, Cooley Law School is now seeking to use its power to stymie the constitutional right of free speech of its own students -- albeit speech that negatively portrays the school consistent with other empirical data," Berkley attorney John Hermann said in the motion, filed on behalf of his client, Rockstar05. "Ironically, Cooley is now the emperor who appears angry at being told he is not wearing any clothes."
The school itself publicized this particular lawsuit, as well as a separate lawsuit against some lawyers who claimed to be putting together a class action lawsuit against Cooley over (the lawyers claimed) "manipulating post-graduate employment data and salary info." You can see both complaints embedded below.

I have no idea if the statements made by anyone targeted by Cooley rise to the level of defamation. Certainly many of the statements highlighted could be seen as statements of fact, though many appear to be standard hyperbole from someone who had a negative experience. Still, all of this had me wondering about the Cooley Law School, as I have to admit never having heard of it, so I decided to check it out. The law school's biggest claim to fame appears to be that it has the largest faculty, and if you count all of its various students, the largest student body as well. Bigger is better! But is the school any good?

Well, that's where things get hilarious.

You see, if you look at the various rankings for law schools, Cooley is considered near the bottom of the heap. The US News rankings have put it as a "fourth tier" law school, in the past, and currently has it as "unranked" because it apparently "did not supply enough information to U.S. News to calculate a ranking." But, wouldn't you know it, according to Cooley itself, it's actually the second top ranked school in the country, behind only Harvard.

How's that? Well, you see, Cooley's administration decided to create its own rankings system! A report from last year (at which point Cooley ranked merely #12 on its own ranking criteria, demolished the way Cooley's own rankings system works:
How did they arrive at this order? Cooley can only make this claim by sufficiently broadening the number of factors and then allotting them equal weight. Traditionally, highly important considerations are GPA, LSAT, Bar passage rate, and employment upon graduation. However, in this scheme they are given the same weight as Total Volumes in Library, Total Applications, Total Law School Square Footage, Program Achievement Rating Rank.
That blog post then goes on to display how Cooley minimizes the importance of the numbers that actually matter. Meanwhile, it appears that some others were similarly flabbergasted by Cooley Law presenting itself as the 2nd highest ranked law school, based on its own silly rankings. Cooley's own rankings explanation says that they got rid of pesky things like "reputation," and declare that, without question, "bigger is better than smaller" (even though, amusingly, in the same list, they claim that smaller class sizes are better than bigger!).

The thing is, I wouldn't have gone out and learned any of this if Cooley hadn't decided to jump and sue some of its critics. Even if some of the statements turn out to be defamatory, suing your critics is an open invitation for people to take a closer look at you and what you do, and what comes up for Thomas M. Cooley Law School does not look good at all.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    DogBreath, Aug 8th, 2011 @ 11:07am

    Can they sue themselves for their own bad advice?

    Cooley's administration decided to create its own rankings system!

    Maybe they need to brush up on their Mark Twain a little more, "Figures often beguile me, particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: 'There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.'"

     

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      TCBloo (profile), Aug 8th, 2011 @ 11:20am

      Re: Can they sue themselves for their own bad advice?

      There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.
      You know what they say: 68% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

      TC

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2011 @ 11:52am

        Re: Re: Can they sue themselves for their own bad advice?

        And of that 68%, 72.5% consists of less than 23% factual basis. Fortunately, they contain less than .1% of rodent hair, which makes them suitable for public consumption.

         

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      Bob, Aug 9th, 2011 @ 8:11pm

      Re: Can they sue themselves for their own bad advice?

      Any lawyer that really wants to help their client should be at least aware of the Streisand Effect

       

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    The Devil's Coachman (profile), Aug 8th, 2011 @ 11:08am

    If I ever need a shyster, I won't hire one of their grads

    Now that the truth is out, looks like a law degree from them will be worth about the same as one from International Correspondence Schools.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2011 @ 11:10am

    Arkell V. Pressdram.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2011 @ 11:14am

    Lawyerly Behavior from a Law School

    "When the facts are against you, cite the law."

    "When the law is against you, cite the facts."

    "When both are against you, sue your critics."

     

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      identicon
      None, Aug 9th, 2011 @ 9:55am

      Re: Lawyerly Behavior from a Law School

      I've heard a variation:

      When the facts are on your side, pound on the facts.
      When the law is on your side, pound on the law.
      When neither the facts or the law are on your side, pound on the table.

       

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    Derek Kerton (profile), Aug 8th, 2011 @ 11:17am

    Is This Where All The Bad Lawyers Come From?

    You know all the lawyer jokes? How we all know some pretty lousy lawyers? How some lawyers truly are ambulance chasers?

    Is this the kind of school that cranks out these hacks?

    Maybe so. Maybe we just have an oversupply of lawyers problem, with a large balloon shaped distribution of crappy attorneys. If so, all those hacks would need to find work, and that goes some way towards explaining the excessively litigious society we have become.

    It also might explain some of the logic we've seen from the lawyers in these comments arguing in favor of IP legislation, while not seemingly capable of understanding the true impact of some laws, the economic incentives behind the laws, or even logical debate.

    Remember how the Bush admin had a boatload of graduates from Pat Robertson's Regent University. This way our Justice Department was strongly influenced by god.
    http://www.boston.com/news/education/higher/articles/2007/04/08/scandal_puts_spotlight_on_chri stian_law_school/
    I wonder if the pro-IP camp is strongly represented by Cooley Law grads. This way our IP law can be strongly influenced by low-LSAT advocates with a propensity to adjust the yardstick in their favor.

     

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      sheenyglass (profile), Aug 8th, 2011 @ 11:28am

      Re: Is This Where All The Bad Lawyers Come From?

      Actually, I think the vast majority of lawyers would agree that there are too many lawyers. Our guild is doing a terrible job of ensuring demand always outstrips supply.

      Cooley is actually pretty notorious. Third and fourth tier schools tend to have a massive culling after 1st year, where the bottom quarter/third get kicked out, but Cooley is so large that its cull is especially brutal. That being said, the Cooley grads I've known haven't been any worse on average than other lawyers.

      I think that the propensity for making arguments which benefit your client without taking into account its effect on society in general is unrelated to the oversupply of attorneys. I think the pro-IP camp is strongly represented by lawyers whose clients are pro-IP. The problem with Regent grads was their ideological uniformity and authoritarian leanings, not their knowledge of the law.

       

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        G Thompson (profile), Aug 9th, 2011 @ 2:33am

        Re: Re: Is This Where All The Bad Lawyers Come From?

        Holding an LLB myself I would say that it's not a matter of there being too many lawyers/solicitors. It's more a matter of there are too many that are actual practitioners.

        There are a large percentage of people who hold law degrees (and mostly they obtain them as mature age students not straight from school) whom like myself do not practice, though use that qualification in other professional ways. In fact I could think of nothing worse then actually being on the bar all day, talking to clients who want to sue because of de minimus booboos, and the paperwork.. blah! [not to mention that I would be likely in contempt more times than not due to my cynical nature and ENTJ personality :P ]

        So my opinion is that the market has been oversaturated with litigators whom just don't care anymore, or if they do also need to feed themselves, either their mouths or ego, or both.

        The ones who do care, play by all the rules of ethics and common sense, are becoming few and far between and sadly are removing their shingles, or going over to the darkside of advocacy where their are more cookies.

         

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      lime, Aug 8th, 2011 @ 10:38pm

      Re: Is This Where All The Bad Lawyers Come From?

      Looking at Regent's wikipedia article, its bar passage rate, and its various indicators, im not clear on why youre choosing THAT as your scapegoat for all the world's evils.

      By all indications (at least for a non lawyer like myself) it appears a rather decent school; simply because you disagree with their stance on God doesnt change their performance as a law school.

       

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        Derek Kerton (profile), Aug 14th, 2011 @ 10:27pm

        Re: Re: Is This Where All The Bad Lawyers Come From?

        "simply because you disagree with their stance on God doesnt change their performance as a law school"

        No, it just is an affront to the concept separation of church and state when they are so highly represented in government, yet don't seem to have the credentials to merit that level of influence. The credentials appear to be the JC more than the JD.

         

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    Anon, Aug 8th, 2011 @ 11:18am

    Cooley just announced today that they are opening a new campus in the Tampa Bay area. http://www.cooley.edu/newsevents/2011/080811_cooley_opens_tampa_campus.html

     

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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 8th, 2011 @ 11:18am

    Someone more gifted than me do me a favor...
    Look up the lawyers representing the school...
    I can almost feel the irony of them not using their own graduates to represent the school....

     

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    Anon, Aug 8th, 2011 @ 11:19am

    They are not grads of the school

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 8th, 2011 @ 11:35am

    If I ever need a shyster, I won't hire one of their grads

    Now that the truth is out, looks like a law degree from them will be worth about the same as one from International Correspondence Schools.

     

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    Nicedoggy, Aug 8th, 2011 @ 1:08pm

    This may come as a surprise to some, but suing is basically what a lawyer is suppose to do and their whole lifes are based on that premise, so they will do the only thing they can do and that is to sue others.

    If somebody had pissed of a painter they could find themselves being portraited as the devil, if you pissed of the guy who makes your food you may be eating some added bodily fluids, now how do we deal with people who spit on the food of others because they get angry?

     

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      Phasma Felis, Aug 9th, 2011 @ 11:14am

      Re:

      This may come as a surprise to some, but suing is basically what a lawyer is suppose to do and their whole lifes are based on that premise

      Really? That'll come as a surprise to my brother the public defender and my friend the contract attorney. Not to mention law professors, prosecutors, etc, etc...

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 9th, 2011 @ 10:14am

    Silly rankings they made up.
    Got to call you bs on that. The other way to rank them was another set of critirium someone made up as well

     

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    Joe, May 18th, 2013 @ 9:08am

    my view

    Thomas. M. Cooley Law School has instilled in many of its graduates the skills necessary to become a successful. It's difficult to argue to with facts. Here is the link to SuperLawyers who have graduated from Thomas M. Cooley Law School: http://www.superlawyers.com/lawschool/The-Thomas-M-Cooley-Law-School/fad6dc18-84c4-102c-aca4-000e0c6 dcf76.html

    In addition, Thomas M. Cooley Law School is one of the larger law schools in the U.S. meaning that it a graduate of the school has a larger network of alumni to refer work to and from.

     

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    joe, May 18th, 2013 @ 9:10am

    my view [correction]

    Thomas. M. Cooley Law School has instilled in many of its graduates the skills and education necessary to become a successful attorneys. It's difficult to argue to with facts. Here is the link to SuperLawyers who have graduated from Thomas M. Cooley Law School: http://www.superlawyers.com/lawschool/The-Thomas-M-Cooley-Law-School/fad6dc18-84c4-102c-aca4-000e0c6 dcf76.html

    In addition, Thomas M. Cooley Law School is one of the larger law schools in the U.S. meaning that a graduate of the school has a larger network of alumni to refer work to and from.

     

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