The Thomas M. Cooley Law School, a freestanding institution in Michigan, on Thursday sued four anonymous individuals who have posted critical comments online and lawyers who have started an investigation into Cooley's job placement rates. The suits charge defamation, interference with business interests and other violations of the law. "With ethics and professionalism at the core of our law school's values, we cannot – and will not – sit back and let anyone circulate defamatory statements about Cooley or the choices our students and alumni made to seek their law degree here," said Brent Danielson, chair of Cooley's board, in an announcement of the suits.
One of the anonymous bloggers being sued runs a site called Thomas M. Cooley Law School Scam "to bring truth and awareness to the students getting suckered in by this despicable excuse for a law school." The blog questions Cooley's academic quality and charges that very few of its graduates find jobs. (Cooley says 76 percent of graduates find jobs, and that the figure was higher before the economic downturn.)
The law firm being sued is Kurzon Strauss, in New York, which ran a notice on the J.D. Underground website stating (according to the complaint) that it was "conducting a broad, wide-ranging investigation of a number of law schools for blatantly manipulating their post-graduate employment data and salary information" to take advantage of "the blithe ignorance of naive, clueless 22-year olds who have absolutely no idea what a terrible investment obtaining a J.D. is." The notice specifically requests information about Thomas Cooley and, according to the law school, suggested that it was "perhaps one of the worst offenders" in manipulating the data. Currently the J.D. Underground website features a posting with some similar language (but not nearly as strong) to that cited in the complaint, and another posting from the law firm retracting some of its earlier statements, suggesting that "certain allegations ... may have been couched as fact."
David Anziska, a partner in the firm, said in an interview Thursday that "this is one of the most ridiculous lawsuits filed in recent memory." Anziska said that the firm will not only defend itself, but plans to sue Cooley for its suit. He declined to comment on the status of the investigation into job-placement rates of Cooley and other law schools, but said that the notice prompted more than 50 responses.
Opinions on Inside Higher Ed
Inside Higher Ed’s Blog U
What Others Are Reading