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Thomson Must Defend Antitrust Suit
Over Its Bar-Exam Courses

By David Glovin

Jan. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Thomson Corp., owner of Westlaw legal research, must defend an antitrust lawsuit claiming the company illegally required aspiring lawyers to enroll in a second program as a condition of taking the state bar-exam preparation course.

A test-taker claimed in a lawsuit filed last year in Manhattan federal court that Thomson violated antitrust laws by illegally linking state-bar and multistate review courses. U.S. District Judge William Pauley ruled today that the antitrust suit against Toronto-based Thomson may go forward.

Thomson sells about 40,000 BarBri courses in the U.S. with both state and multistate review elements, generating about $125 million in revenue and $60 million in profits, Pauley said. As much as 90 percent of students taking prep-courses for the state section of the test enroll in the BarBri program, he said.

``The evidence suggests that BarBri used its substantial market share to control competition, boost prices and potentially force unwilling consumption of its'' multistate product, Pauley wrote in a 20-page decision.

Bar exams in 48 states include a ``multistate'' section, which consists of questions on contracts, criminal law and four other subjects, and a second section with questions about a state's particular laws.

The proposed class-action, or group lawsuit, was filed on behalf of all people who purchased a BarBri course in 47 states since 2001. The suit, brought by test-taker Anthony Park, seeks unspecified money damages.

Thomson spokesman Jason Stewart declined to comment. Brian Murray, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, didn't immediately return a call. Bloomberg LP, the parent of Bloomberg News, competes with Thomson in selling financial and legal news and information.

The suit is Park v. Thomson, 05-cv-2931, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

To contact the reporter on this story: David Glovin in federal court in New York at dglovin@bloomberg.net .

Last Updated: January 11, 2007 16:45 EST