Law school graduate Michael Lieberman sues Southwestern Law School because he hasn't found a job
7:19 AM, Apr 4, 2013
2:26 PM, Apr 4, 2013
An unemployed law school graduate challenges the claims of his alma mater--- filing a lawsuit because he hasn't found a job.
Michael Lieberman went to southern California's Southwestern Law School because he figured getting a job with a law degree was still as sure a bet as one can get.
"I know I did my research on it," Lieberman said. "I relied upon those numbers when I made my decision. I relied on that 95-97 percent employment."
That was the promise he says came from Southwestern -- 97 percent of graduates employed within nine months.
After graduating in 2009, he passed the bar exam, then filled out hundreds of job application.
He got an equal number of rejections and ended up having to move back in with his parents.
"I had high hopes for employment," Lieberman said. "I thought this degree was going to be very important in me getting a job."
His hope, he says, was based on hype.
He joins several former students - unable to get legal jobs after graduating - who are suing schools for what they say was misleading employment numbers.
"What we blame the law schools for is not accurately disclosing what the market for its graduates was like," attorney John Parker said.
In at least six states, there are similar suits.
Former law students - many of them carrying more than $100,000 in student loan debt - who feel they were misled into believing a law degree equaled a good job.
Legal analyst Paul Callan calls these suits "totally ridiculous."
"They've been filed in courts across the country and they're being dismissed by judges across the country," Callan said. "Frankly, if someone were smart to get into law school, you would think they would understand it's not a guarantee of a job."
Southwestern Law School says it follows the American Bar Association's requirements-- which has since changed the way jobs are reported here and nationwide.
But the lawyer trying to get four California cases consolidated as a single class action suit says that does nothing for those already through law school and struggling to find work.
"For those students who did incur the expense of going to these schools, where the information that was provided was misleading, we're going to seek monetary damages," Parker said.
Driving this in large part is the tough job market and a lawyer glut.
In 2011, the number of full time jobs for practicing lawyers nationwide hit 65.4 percent – the lowest ever.
For Southwestern University, it's worse.
In 2012, just under 47 percent of graduates got a full or part time job as a practicing lawyer.
Michael Lieberman finally got a job last December.
Not a legal job. He's now working for an elected official, has moved out of his parents' home and still hopes a job as a lawyer - or at least in the legal field - is out there.