Following contempt finding in accommodation lawsuit, LSAC ordered to pay attorney fees

Disability Law

- Following contempt finding in accommodation lawsuit, LSAC ordered to pay attorney fees

After finding the Law School Admission Council in contempt for violating a consent decree regarding disability accommodations on the Law School Admission Test, a federal magistrate on Monday ordered the organization to pay $480,489 in attorney fees.

The finding was sought by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and fees will go to a state enforcement and litigation fund, according to a news release from the agency.

“Because fees can only be used to offset costs of the department, seeking fees in appropriate cases directly supports DFEH’s mission of protecting all Californians from unlawful discrimination,” Kevin Kish, the state agency’s director, said in the release. The Recorder also reported on the finding.

The order denied an attorney fee request of $81,982.50 related to costs and review of documents at LSAC’s Pennsylvania office. Kellye Y. Testy, president and CEO of the LSAC, did not respond to an ABA Journal interview request.

The litigation started in 2012 when the agency filed a U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California action alleging that the LSAC routinely denied testing accommodations for people with documented disabilities. The U.S. Department of Justice intervened, and the parties entered a consent decree in 2014.

The contempt motion, filed in January 2018 by the DFEH, alleged the LSAC flagged LSAT scores from people with disabilities who sought extended time accommodations. It also alleged the LSAC made take-it-or-leave-it offers with less time to take the test than requested, along with a short response period; wrongfully reporting those offers as requests “granted in full”; and altering internal documents to replace requested time with time that the LSAC counter-offered. U.S. Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero granted the motion in March, and the sanction extended the consent decree for another two years to a total of six years.

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Following the contempt finding, the LSAC told the the Recorder it had already adjusted its processes after concerns were raised, but the court unfortunately didn’t credit the adjustments or the LSAC’s “good faith interpretations of the decree.”

“While this ruling is not the outcome we had hoped for, [the LSAC] will continue to work steadfastly to comply with the decree under the guidance provided in the court’s ruling,” its statement said.

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Edward Lott, Ph.D., M.B.A. is president and managing partner of Allentown-based ForLawFirmsOnly Marketing, Inc., a local search and digital marketing agency that offers clients lead generation, local seo and Google Maps Domination. Ed has been a digital entrepreneur since 1994, having discovered very early the opportunities the Internet offered. After having spent over two decades helping attorneys grow their practice, Ed joined the staff of ForLawFirmsOnly Marketing as President and Managing Partner, where he is expanding the agency’s cutting-edge services to the legal market. A true marketing futurist, Ed's vast experience working directly with attorneys has given him a unique perspective on law firm marketing not found in many other digital marketing agencies. Ed has reshaped the offerings of ForLawFirmsOnly to focus on growing law firms through a holistic approach to digital marketing evident in the reformulated lead generation processes now in place. Want to learn more about ForLawFirmsOnly Marketing, their lead generation programs, or just talk to Ed about his visions for helping law firms grow? Call him at 855-943-8736.

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