Wednesday, November 30, 2005

BAR/BRI & Kaplan Sued Under Antitrust Law over Secret Agreements

Bar/Bri & Kaplan have been sued under antitrust laws for having a secret agreement to stay out of each others markets so that they could overcharge for their product. Anyone who's ever taken Bar/Bri knows they paid far too much.

LawCrossing Article: BAR/BRI And Kaplan Class Action:

A complaint filed against BAR/BRI bar review and the West Publishing Corporation and Kaplan, Inc., in Los Angeles, claims more than 300,000 lawyers and law students were each charged an estimated $1,000 extra for bar review courses.

The April 29 lawsuit against the country's biggest bar exam and LSAT preparation companies, filed as a class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, alleges that BAR/BRI and test-preparation company Kaplan, Inc., agreed to illegally dividing the LSAT and bar exam test-preparation market.

The suit claims that under the alleged agreement, BAR/BRI withdrew from the LSAT preparation business and Kaplan agreed not to enter the bar-review course market. The complaint charges that "without substantial competition, BAR/BRI's net prices per student then increased substantially in most states." It claims that from 1997 to the present, Kaplan and BAR/BRI "have concealed their conspiracy to divide the market." The lawsuit claims BAR/BRI students were overcharged about $300 million since August 1997 and said customers may deserve $1,000 each in refunds.

"I do think it's curious that there's a single dominant provider nationwide," said Eric Goldman, a law professor at Marquette University Law School. "There's no indicia that the bar exam-preparation market is a natural monopoly, and most other test-prep areas have competition. So why is there only one dominant vendor in the bar exam-preparation area?"
...
"[BAR/BRI] seems to be the school-sanctioned choice, and I don't know anyone who has signed up for another method," said Oskin.
...
Rod Borlase is an attorney-mediator and said law students have been easy targets for exploitation because they often buy into the intense competitive nature of law school and of bar- and other prep courses.

"Practice aids throughout law school, particularly first year, then bar review courses after graduation—it's just one blood-sucking vulture after another," said Borlase. "On the other hand, I wouldn't want to take a bar exam without a review course, although I know some who have successfully."

4 Comments:

Blogger JB said...

This is from a December 6th New York Times article on this scandal:

"In complaints filed in the spring and summer, different groups of students charged that BAR/BRI has paid competitors to shut down and negotiated illegal agreements with potential competitors to divide the market. In particular, they cite a 2003 agreement with Louisiana State University, which until 2004 operated its own bar review course; under the deal, BAR/BRI promised to pay tens of thousands of dollars each year to the school, and the school promised not to run a competing bar review course."

I don't know how meritorious that claim is. I do find it odd that Cardozo is the only school that does not allow Lexis and Westlaw representatives on campus, especially since the bar/bri representatives are there every day.

Anyway, I would be pretty happy if I got my money back, even if it was only $1000.

12/11/2005 12:39 AM  
Blogger CRC said...

I'm totally with you Ben. I can't wait to get my settlement check.

Pieper was able to set up at Cardozo too, but that's not much of a competitor. I think its a scam that the schools would allow themselves to be paid off like that. As if they don't snatch enough of student's cash already -- $30k per year.

12/11/2005 12:07 PM  
Blogger Jesus Christ said...

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12/20/2005 9:01 PM  
Blogger Jesus Christ said...

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12/20/2005 9:02 PM  

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