Law School Strikes Back Against Online Scam Bloggers

 

Law schools maintain an uneasy relationship with the scam bloggers that overrun the Internet, but often choose to ignore the allegations of deceptive post-graduate employment statistics, exorbitant tuition fees, and ever-depreciating value of a law degree.  But one law school has finally had enough, and it's ready to take on these nefarious mudslingers in court. 

Cooley Law School, ranked second in the nation by its own measure, just announced that it has filed two lawsuits against Kurzon Strauss LLP and four anonymous internet bloggers who allegedly "defam[ed] Cooley online and tortiously interfere[ed] with our student relationships."[i]  According to the suits, the Kurzon Strauss firm posted false statements online to defame the reputation of Cooley and incite plaintiffs into joining a class-action suit against the law school.   

Before I get into the sheer stupidity of suing anonymous defendants on the Internet and the baseless nature of Cooley's claims in general, I'll first provide some background on Cooley Law School in case you've never heard about this law school before reading about this frivolous suit.

Like many other lower-ranked law schools, Thomas M. Cooley Law School has been criticized for misrepresenting post-graduate statistics and charging its students a hefty price for a degree that will probably not pay off in the future.  But that's not what makes Cooley stand out from the rest of the money-grubbing law schools.

Earlier this year, Cooley released a somewhat surprising ranking system that placed itself as the #2 law school in the nation, right after Harvard who was graciously awarded the top spot.  So according to Cooley's rankings, which takes all sorts of underrated factors into account like total library square footage, you'd be better off accepting a spot in Cooley's Class of 2015 than lesser known #10 Yale. 

Naturally, news of this absurd system set the blogosphere ablaze with renewed frustration at the largest law school in the nation.  But this was back in February, and news of Cooley's silliness never filtered through to major media outlets, and for the most part, bloggers moved on.  So why file a lawsuit to feed the flames of the blogosphere one more time?  Why now?  Why Cooley?

Perhaps Cooley subscribes to the usually-true belief that any publicity is good publicity.  But that seems doubtful when you're embroiling yourself in a series of lawsuits and setting yourself up for a PR disaster.  Kurzon Strauss attorneys have already announced their plans to countersue, claiming that the Cooley suit is "one of the most ridiculous, absurd lawsuits filed in recent memory" and "an abuse of the legal system."[ii]  And while it's not clear how Cooley intends to litigate against four John Does in its second suit, the lack of the case's merits will probably cause that lawsuit to fall flat as well.

In the words of one John Doe defendant:

I believe I was very clear throughout my dated blog post that I was expressing my personal opinion. I would analogize my entire post reflecting my personal experience and personal views of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School to watching a movie on a Friday night then publishing online statements asserting that it was a poor investment of time, money, and certainly not worthwhile- to boycott the movie and go ahead and watch that other movie that released the same Friday or any other movie for that matter. Do motion picture producers go out and publicly file lawsuits against each and every one who trashes their film?[iii]

Given the overall frivolity of its claims, Cooley will probably not be able to collect its absurd request for relief in the amount of $25,000.  But if it's just publicity that Cooley is after, its publicity Cooley will get.  In fact, if Cooley's administration keeps up their inane behavior, they might just find themselves featured in a marketing-disasters-to-avoid column in next week's Wall Street Journal.    


[i] Elie Mystal, "Thomas Cooley Sues A Law Firm and Four 'John Does' on the Internet," Above the Law, http://abovethelaw.com/2011/07/thomas-cooley-sues-a-law-firm-and-four-john-doe-people-on-the-internet-for-defamation/

[ii] Sophia Pearson, "Thomas Cooley Law School Sues Kurzon Strauss Law Firm Over Job Data Query," Bloomberg, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-07-14/thomas-cooley-law-school-sues-kurzon-strauss-law-firm-over-job-data-query.html.

[iii] Rockstar05, "The Thomas M. Cooley Law School Scam," http://thomas-cooley-law-school-scam.weebly.com

 

Building a Better Legal Profession (BBLP) is an organization based at Stanford Law School.   BBLP is a national grassroots movement that seeks market-based workplace reforms in large private law firms. For more information, visit BBLP's Web site at www.betterlegalprofession.org.

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