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."