Last week, just as I posted about the eDiscovery job market in, “JD Preferred”, the Kadden v. Visulex decision flashed up on my screen. Today, as I was finishing my follow up post on Kadden and law school graduate hiring statistics, Law School Transparency broke the story that a former career services director at Thomas Jefferson School of Law had admitted to widespread fraud in tracking and reporting graduates’ employment figures. It’s like playing whack-a-mole in the blogosphere.
With the “Publish” button still rebounding from my mouse, the prolific, jurist-star of the eDiscovery firmament, the Hon. Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, reached a verdict in Kadden v. Visualex. Here we have a case right up the eDiscovery JD hiring blogger’s alley. One of our own, a trial support company, was sued by a former attorney employee for overtime wages. (Disclaimer: The Defendant Visualex’s President, Lillian Romano, was, at one time, a vendor of mine).
Very briefly, the Plaintiff, Adina Kadden, was hired by a trial support company, Visualex, LLC, as a litigation graphics consultant in 2008. In 2009, due to a downturn in revenue, Visualex suspended overtime compensation claiming that, in part, because Ms. Kadden had a professional degree, she was an exempt employee.
Ms. Kadden’s employment was partly due to the fact that she had graduated from law school. She joined a team of graphics consultants, most of whom had graduate degrees, and only some of whom were attorneys. In effect, she was a “twofer”. She had previous trial support experience and she was a lawyer.
She was definitely a “JD Preferred” as explained in Judge Scheindlin’s decision, “The job description when hiring Ms. Kadden listed, in part, ‘5) [g]raduate degree preferred (e.g. social science, law, etc.);’” She was not a JD required, because her work was always under an attorney’s (client’s) supervision: “VisuaLex’s job description for graphics consultants (the ‘Job Description’) listed as, primary responsibilities’: (1) ‘[r]ead case materials and work with attorneys to identify key case concepts;…”
What is interesting is that, in the end, Ms. Kadden’s job was determined to be non- exempt, by Judge Scheindlin, because she was doing more editing and proofreading than anything else. Might I suggest that instead of paying Ms. Kadden $75,000 per annum, Visualex might have hired a less expensive person with editing/proof reading experience, perhaps from the publishing world, rather than someone with a graduate degree, law or otherwise. (Disclaimer #2: I am a Time Magazine alumna).
For whatever reason, Ms. Kadden wasn’t a practicing attorney; she was a trial exhibit consultant with a JD, having joined Doar Litigation Consulting in 2006. (I find it freaky how easily I am able to look up a Plaintiff’s employment history on www.Linkedin.com). She was a trend-setter in occupying the JD-preferred slice of the JD employment pie.
This last June, the New York Law Journal released an article on the 2011 law school graduates’ job market. It has a pie chart with a 12.5% slice for “J.D. preferred, not required, an increase from 2010’s number: 10.7%. With only 65.4% of 2011 graduates in full-jobs “requiring bar passage”, a J.D. preferred job may be the next best thing and I’d say the pie chart implies that.
But wait. Are these employment numbers even accurate? Can we talk about these issues when we know that there are several suits against US law schools questioning the validity of their employment statistics; and now, an outright admission of fraud?
LawTransparency.com reported, yesterday, that Thomas Jefferson Law School assistant career services director, Karen Grant, “alleges that her fraud was part of a deliberate scheme by the law school’s administration to inflate its employment statistics.” In a sworn statement related to interactions with her boss at the time, Ms. Grant said, “I again expressed my concern and told Ms. Weseley that it did not seem right to report currently unemployed students as “employed” merely because they had been employed at some point after graduation.” Ms. Weseley responded by saying, “it is no big deal, everybody does it.”
If “everybody does it” I don’t see how we can rely on the “12.5% J.D. preferred, not required” statistics released by the ABA. We’ll just have to keep monitoring the trend anecdotally.
Finally, if the eDiscovery world will stop spinning, just for a moment, I would like to offer a list of issues my eDJ colleagues and I will be covering related to eDiscovery hiring and qualifications. In this series we will write about topics such as: law school curricula, requirements for attorney participation in eDiscovery services, eDiscovery CLEs, client policies related to new associate billing, project management and paralegal eDiscovery participation.