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West Publishing Co.'s BAR/BRI Offers Law Students, 
Lawyers $13 Million to Settle Another Class Action
Settlement Lets Students Choose Only the MBE or Local Part of Bar Review Course

By Stan Chess
February 21, 2008

    After settling a class action lawsuit for $49 million to be paid to law students and lawyers by Kaplan, Inc., and West Publishing Company's BAR/BRI Bar Review, BAR/BRI has agreed to settle a second class action for $13 million.  

    The money will be paid to all law students and lawyers "who purchased a bar review course from BAR/BRI anywhere in the United States from March 15, 2001 until January 4, 2008."

    In addition, as part of the settlement, BAR/BRI will not require students to take a so-called "full-service" bar review course, which includes preparation for the MBE (Multistate Bar Exam) and the state-specific part of the exam.  For the first time, law students will be able to pay for only the MBE portion of the BAR/BRI program or for only the state-specific portion.  

    Since the MBE is based on generic law and is comprised primarily of topics that most law students learn in their first year of law school, many bar-exam candidates may choose to save money by paying for only the state-specific portion.  The state-specific, or "local," portion is generally in an essay format and generally requires answers based on knowledge of state law.

    Most notably, for the first-time, a law student might choose to take BAR/BRI for the local portion of the New York, Texas, Illinois, California, or other bar exam, and to take the PMBR course, now owned by Kaplan, or the Emanuel Bar Review, owned by Aspen, for the MBE portion.

    Also, a student who took BAR/BRI for one state, for instance New York, and paid for the MBE and local portions, and was now sitting for a second state, for instance Florida, had to pay BAR/BRI for the same MBE portion for which he or she had already paid and which he or she had taken.  Now the student can pay for only the local portion of the Florida course and use notes and materials for the MBE from the prior course, without having to pay for the MBE twice.  If the student wants to pay for the MBE, the student is not obligated to take BAR/BRI.

    Since many states do not test any local law on the so-called "local" day of the bar exam, or test only a few local subjects, many students may choose to purchase only the MBE part of the course.  And in those states where the MBE portion counts much more heavily than the local portion in grading the exam, students may also choose not to pay for the local part of the course--they can pass by studying primarily for the MBE.

    A third class action was filed on Feb. 6, 2008, and is pending.  This lawsuit, brought by antitrust expert Eliot Disner and the Disner Law Firm on behalf of 40,000 lawyers and 80,000 current law students, says Thomson Corp.'s BAR/BRI burglarized a competitor multiple times, bribed and threatened adversaries, paid off law school officials to keep other bar review courses from promoting in their law schools, paid Kaplan $750,000 a year to stay out of the bar review business, and performed other illegal acts to destroy competition.  

    Disner was plaintiffs' lead attorney in the $49 million settlement.

    To share in the proposed $13 million settlement, law students and lawyers must file claims no later than May 15, 2008.  The final date for opting out of the class is March 6, 2008.

    The parties to the $13 million settlement have agreed to destroy or return materials obtained through discovery in the litigation.
Stan Chess, a lawyer and the president of LawTV, Inc., was president of BAR/BRI until 1995, and then was chairman and CEO of West Publishing Company's West Bar Review. He initiated the antitrust litigation brought by Disner against BAR/BRI.

Stipulation and Settlement Agreement (PDF)

Recently-Filed Complaint (PDF)

Bar Examiners' Lawsuit Accuses West Publishing, Thomson Corp.,
 And BAR/BRI of Deceptive Advertising and Copyright Infringement

Lawyer Accuses West Publishing Co.'s BAR/BRI of 'Savage, Predatory Attacks'

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