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Corrections: 1. Chess worked at BAR/BRI until 1995.  2. Kaplan signed the letter of intent to purchase the assets of West Bar Review much earlier than one month after Chess left West Publishing.  3. BAR/BRI did not agree "not to get into the market for LSAT preparation."  BAR/BRI was already in the LSAT business.  The complaint alleges that BAR/BRI agreed to close down its LSAT prep business in exchange for Kaplan not going into the bar review business.


Ex-BAR/BRI President Blasts Deal

Amanda Bronstad / Staff reporter
The National Law Journal
April 30, 2007

LOS ANGELES — The former president of BAR/BRI who initiated a nationwide antitrust lawsuit against the publisher of a bar review course is joining three named plaintiffs in objecting to a recent settlement of the case.

Stan Chess, now president of LawTV Inc., which operates Web sites such as www.LawSchool.com, is the fourth objector to a $49 million settlement filed with the courts on Feb. 2. Ryan Rodriguez v. West Publishing Corp., No. 05cv3222 (C.D. Calif.). Three named plaintiffs also have raised objections.

The settlement resolves a class action against West Publishing, owner of BAR/BRI, and Kaplan Inc., which makes the preparatory coursework for the Law School Aptitude Test (LSAT).

The lawsuit claims the two companies conspired to monopolize the law exam market and overcharged law students by $1,000 each. Plaintiffs sought triple an estimated $300 million in damages on behalf of nearly 300,000 law students who took the course from 1997 to 2006.

With the settlement, each class member is expected to receive about $125. A federal judge is expected to approve a final settlement on June 18. In court papers filed last month, Chess called the settlement "grossly inadequate.

"It doesn't accomplish anything," he said, noting that "the amount of money is not consequential to the defendant or the class members. There aren't that many attorneys who will fill out forms for $125."

Chess is the latest to object to the settlement. Three named plaintiffs have criticized the monetary relief as too low and the injunctive relief as inadequate, since the original lawsuit sought to break up BAR/BRI.

They also said that the lawyers at McGuireWoods, the plaintiffs' firm, replaced their original attorney, Eliot Disner, after inheriting the case through a merger in April 2006 with his Los Angeles-based firm, Van Etten Suzumoto & Becket, and that they were not informed of the settlement's details until it was too late.

Disner, while admitting that he is "not the strongest proponent of the McGuireWoods plan," denied allegations that he was replaced. He also defended the settlement. "They worked their butts off trying to get this thing done," he said of lawyers at McGuireWoods.

Chess, who worked for BAR/BRI until 1994, told The National Law Journal that he was laid off as chairman and chief executive of West Publishing's West Bar Review in July 1997, about one month before Kaplan signed a letter of intent to buy West Bar Review from The Thomson Corp., parent company of West Publishing. The deal fell through.

Chess said he was told by a Kaplan employee afterward that BAR/BRI had struck a deal with Kaplan to stay out of the bar review business. In return, BAR/BRI agreed not to get into the market for LSAT preparation. West Publishing acquired BAR/BRI in 2001.