Juror Wade DeMond, who works on regulatory affairs in the pharmaceutical industry, said he questioned how Thomas Jefferson collected employment data after Alaburda's time but that it made a good-faith effort in her case."The jury instructions, the questions we were asked, were very specific and they were time-bound: Did Thomas Jefferson falsely represent employment data for the U.S. News & World Report editions that she reviewed? So that means the whole thing gets narrowed down to the 2004 and the 2005 editions," he told reporters.
The narrowness of this case aside, the verdict should not come as a surprise to anyone who's observed the legal news over the last few years. Contrary to for-profit shitholes, the public at large has built-in defense mechanisms to protect non-profit higher education, to assault lawyers but not the institutions ruined by them, and to cast the harshest possible light on the personal responsibilities of abstract others who suffer only in news articles. The lawsuits hit many observers like ipecac, causing them to vomit forth all sorts of inanity that ignored the basics of consumer fraud and demanded that prospective students know the impossible and assume that a law school would defraud them with duplicitous stats. Courts, mostly of the state variety, had similar nausea. As a result, a whole generation of Americans lawyers was simultaneously highly sophisticated and inherently, unreasonably stupid.
But at the end of the day, consider where we were prior to the litigation compared to now. The New York Times' marquee article on the so-called "scam" didn't hit until 2011. LawProf's first post didn't hit until August of that year. While there was a solid trend of "scamblogging" prior to that, the denial on the institutional side was significantly stronger. In five years, applications and bar exam scores have plummeted and the institutional position has changed radically. While the courts have been hostile to claims of shenanigans, the market doesn't lie. That many of the students who applied in droves in 2010 would not be caught dead applying to law school in 2016 is a sign of progress - and not for the law schools. Awareness about the true state of the job market has spread, and I would it to you that the lawsuits have been an instrumental part of that process.
While the law schools, like many large institutional actors, figured out how to comply with the letter of the law without regard to the spirit, they are unable to counter the truth. And from a combination of books, blogs and websites, and - yes - these lawsuits, the truth is now more well-known than ever. These institutions can claim that the Frank McIntyres of the world are experts and that law degrees are worth a gazillion dollars, but the buyers - sophisticated consumers, right? - seemingly aren't taking the bait like they used to.
So law schools generally might win the courtroom war, but their whole defense is a gigantic Pyrrhic victory. They have lost so much over the last several years that these legal victories have to ring hollow as the market obviously agrees with the spiritual substance of the lawsuits, even if the suits themselves don't yield the Anna Alaburdas of the world a dime. Law schools can win lawsuits, but they cannot change their recent graduates' dissatisfaction with the "value" received.
Of course, there still are true believers.
"This is not, you know, Trump University," [TJLS lawyer Michael] Sullivan said. "It is so not that. It is such a really excellent law school."
Emphasis added. Ten years ago, people honestly believed such a statement and took their 150 LSATs to pay tens of thousands in tuition in the hopes of making six figures. Does anyone outside of TJLS, its paid lackeys, and truly delusion 0Ls honestly think so now?
For the bottom half of the class, often the only differences between Trump U. and TJLS is that the TJLS student has no sympathy, three wasted years, and six figures of debt. Considering that the public at large is understanding that in ways they once did not, the law schools have clearly lost.