The BARBRI Settlement is unfair. Let’s object.

THIS IS TIME SENSITIVE: THE DEADLINE IS TECHNICALLY MAY 30TH (MEMORIAL DAY, SO ACTUALLY MAY 27TH) SO PLEASE READ THIS AND FORWARD IT TO EVERYONE OF YOUR FRIENDS WHO PAID FOR THE BAR/BRI COURSE FROM AUGUST 1, 2006 TO MARCH 21, 2011.

IF THIS IS THE FIRST YOU HEARD ABOUT THIS, PLEASE EMAIL BARBRISETTLEMENTOBJECTION@GMAIL.COM, OR POST ON THE COMMENTS — IT’S A BIG DEAL. ALSO ALL DOCUMENTS PROVIDED BY CLASS COUNSEL ARE MADE AVAILABLE HERE.

You remember paying BAR/BRI $3000 for the little blue/green/etc. books?

You remember thinking that was a little high?

Turns out there was a reason… BAR/BRI was violating anti-trust laws. Well, they were allegedly violating anti-trust laws.

And now, they are trying to use a class action settlement to make those claims (read: OUR CLAIMS).

The theory of the case is that BAR/BRI and Kaplan had a deal: BAR/BRI stays out of LSAT prep, and Kaplan stays out of Bar prep. This meant that BAR/BRI could charge whatever they wanted because there was no competition. 0.

If you paid for their course from August 1, 2006 through March 21, 2011, you are part of the class.

What can you expect from all this? Two things:

1) A coupon for $50 – $200 towards a future Kaplan test prep class.

2) BAR/BRI will cut you a check for some amount of money (they can’t tell us yet). But, as you will see below, there is good reason to believe it will be around $51.30.

Isn’t that just great?

Look here’s the deal. We CAN do something about it. We can object to the settlement.

Usually people don’t object to class settlements, so the Court simply notes it and then approves the settlement.

If we get 50, 100 or 1,000 objectors (oh God!) it will be a HUGE deal and VERY persuasive to the Court. The Court must approve or reject the settlement as a whole, if we prevail, BAR/BRI and the class counsel have to go back to the drawing board to come up with something that isn’t a joke for the class members.

Let’s explain why the current proposed settlement is a joke.

BAR/BRI settled this exact same type of case for those who took their classes from 1997 August 1 to July 2006 recently. $49 million dollars was set aside for the settlement fund. First, the attorney fees and cost of administrating the suit was pulled out of that amount. Then depending on how many people sent in their forms, BAR/BRI would divvy up this money among the people who responded.

Part of that money, or about $30 million was distributed last year. The class was cut a check for $277 a piece. We aren’t getting that. Here’s the link for you to read.

http://www.barbri-classaction.com/barbri/default.htm (the 30 million is just a partial distribution)

We have the same procedure. The only difference is that all us, all five years of BAR/BRI students will be splitting up a portion of 5 million dollars (minus at least 25% for fees as requested, plus expenses). Seriously.

So in the previous case, the money set aside for each year of students was $5.4 million. In OUR case we get $1 million dollars for each year. While most of us went to law school to escape math, the fact that we are only getting 18% of what the previous class got paid is pretty clear once you are able to track down a calculator. So while the notice provided by class counsel is silent on an actual number, we can reasonably expect 18% or less than what the 1997 to 2006 settlement class got.

That’s $51.27.

Take a moment for that to sink in.

That isn’t right. That isn’t… equitable.

“But wait,” you say, “the settlement gives us a coupon!” Yeah.. for a Kaplan test prep class. While the market out there  is pretty bad and its hard to get a job, who in their right mind is really going to be taking another LSAT (haha), GMAT or MCAT test? Is anyone scrambling to get another 100k of debt tacked on to their student loan bill? Yeah, didn’t think so.

This is what they want to give you to make you go away.

We are not going to take that. YOU don’t have to take that.

We are going to draft a statement of reasons for objecting to this settlement and submit it to the Central District Court of California telling the Court how we feel about the settlement. While this description is informal; the letter won’t be. There will be formality, citations, etc.

You can elect to sign on to this effort and you will be added as a signatory to the objection (or in the alternative, will have an individualized objection generated with the common statement) without having to write your own letter.  If you would rather submit your own, feel free to adopt the common statement of objections in whole or in part along with whatever else you may wish to add.

This does require some minor time and effort on your part, but inaction means allowing BAR/BRI to walk… over you… AGAIN. BAR/BRI got $3000 out of us, and $50 is a parking ticket on the way to doing the same thing all over again to the next group of students.

You deserve something more. We all deserve something more.

How do you sign on? All you have to do is fill out the form on http://www.barbrisettlementobjection.com/signon/ – THAT’S IT. You will be included as a signatory on the letter objecting to the settlement.

This approach utilizes the Electronic Signatures Act. What that law basically says, is that you can agree to sign something electronically and it will have the same force and effect as if you signed it on paper.

Here is the act.

http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=106_cong_bills&docid=f:s761enr.txt.pdf

In order to participate, you merely need a computer or digital device that can connect to the Internet and access this website (which if you are reading this, suggests you meet the requirement). Additionally, you should have a working email address if you wish to receive confirmation when you sign on to the objection.

So here are the terms. We promise that it is quick, painless and not full of shenanigans.

1. If you elect to sign on, you are ONLY consenting to have either this letter/statement of objections signed or to have an individualized letter with the common statement of objections signed. That’s it.

2. We will ONLY use your electronic signature for one of the aforementioned letters which will in turn be sent to the Court. Other contact information collected will only be potentially used in ongoing communications regarding this matter. Otherwise, this information will be used for no other reason and will not be given to anyone else.  It will not even be reused if there is a second settlement proposal in this case.

3. If you want to withdraw, just email barbrisettlementobjection@gmail.com stating just that.  If there is sufficient demand, we’ll put up a web-based form to make it easier.

4. As a logistical matter, we will go over and finalize the list of people who have signed on by May 25th — the day before the paperwork must be sent off to the court and both class and defendants’ counsel. If you want to withdraw after that, send an email to barbrisettlementobjection@gmail.com that says you want to withdraw. You have until 4:00pm on May 26th to do so, because the documents must be sent off that evening.

4. We can’t provide you a paper copy of your signature as it is cost prohibitive.  You will, however, receive confirmation of your online submission when you sign on using the website.  A final version of the core document package will be posted as a PDF (minus names and addresses for privacy purposes).

If you are still not sure, that’s fine. Please just CONSIDER sending a letter to the Court yourself. Even a short note that you object and think the settlement is unfair would go a long way to making a difference.

Each person who objects is one more reason for the Court to reject the settlement.

Also, sometimes class and defense counsel offer objectors a chunk of change to go away. Although it is not clear that this is something that will happen here, we will not accept any amount of money or other incentive to cease this effort outside of the settlement being voluntarily withdrawn and reworked.

WE HAVE UNTIL MAY 26TH TO DO THIS. THIS IS JUST OVER A WEEK.

Most of us took on considerable debt for law school. The job market is horrible right now, and a lot of us are asking if all that money was worth it. BAR/BRI kicked us in the gut and put $3000 or more around our neck. We deserve more than a coupon and 50 dollars to make up for what amounts to a rigged game.

Let’s send a message… specifically one with enough signatures that require a box instead of an envelope to send it to the Court.

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