Landmark Education and the law

Landmark Education and the law

"This article discusses legal actions by and against Landmark Education. For a selection of specific court cases, see Landmark Education litigation."


Landmark Education (founded in 1991), whose Chairman Art Schreiber also acts as the organization's General Counsel [cite web
title= FedEX Package from Art Schreiber
accessdate= 2008-07-15
date= 1998-07-31
quote= General Counsel and Chairman of the Board of Directors
] and Chairman of the Board of Directors, [Minutes of the General Meeting of The Board of Directors of Landmark Education Corporation, August 19, 2002. Online at -- Retrieved 2007-08-30] has had involvement in legal matters over the years only some of which have ended in courtroom litigation (for some of those, see Landmark Education litigation).

Schreiber, a past President of Erhard Seminars Training and initial agent for Werner Erhard and Associates, [Compare] has sometimes utilized letters to accomplish legal matters, without actually going to trial in some cases. These letters usually take the form of cease-and-desist letters, warning the party in question that legal action may transpire if the party does not comply with Landmark Education's wishes. [ -- passim] The letters may come with large amounts of information from commentators who express favorable opinions of Landmark Education. [Linda Chase has noted an example: "FedEX Package from Art Schreiber, General Counsel and Chairman of the Board of Directors: 66 pristine and crisp pages" at, retrieved 2007-08-30]

Other parties have also made legal moves against the actions and positions of Landmark Education.

Reputation and "looking good"

Despite dissenting opinions, Landmark Education presents itself as a business. In the light of this self-perception it reacts negatively to the frequent mentions of terminology such as "cult" or "religion" or "brainwashing" in connection with its name. This process, referred to within Landmark Education as "the public conversation", [ [ Archived web-page] of Landmark Education, 2000-06-20, retrieved 2006-11-22 before Landmark Education rendered archives of its website inaccessible.] [cite web
title= The est of Friends: Werner Erhard's protégés and siblings carry the torch for a '90s incarnation of the '70s 'training' that some of us just didn't get
accessdate= 2008-08-21
last= Hukill
first= Traci
date= 1998-07-09
work= Metro
publisher= Metro Publishing Inc
quote= CEO Harry Rosenberg recently noted that "in the United States, we have altered the public conversation about our work and our enterprise. For example, it is no longer possible for informed people or publications in the United States to pin pejorative labels on us."

"Altering the public conversation." The phrase sends a chill up the spine of anyone who thought it was OK to speak freely in this country without fear of being sued into silence.] may manifest itself in the dispatch of a "press kit" of discussions of defamation and testimonials affirming that Landmark Education's characteristics do not match the said terms. Traci Hukill recounts her experience when Schreiber noted that she had started researching Landmark Education:

Schreiber responded swiftly with a 10-page letter advising me of his "serious concern" that I might defame Landmark. What followed were six pages explaining why Landmark is not a cult, a page of why Landmark cannot be said to brainwash its enrollees, a page and a half of why I must not defame Werner Erhard or est, and a tedious summary explaining that should I "leave Landmark and its programs depicted in a false light ... Landmark is fully prepared to take the appropriate legal action."

He included 23 letters of recommendation from happy Forum grads... [ [ "The est of Friends"] by Traci Hukill, From the July 9-15, 1998 issue of "Metro".]

Linda Chase has archived a sample of [ part] of a "FedEX Package from Art Schreiber ... 66 pristine and crisp pages from Art, including this 9 page letter" at the "Rants and Raves" [ site] .

Origins and the presentation of history

Preservation of Landmark Education's reputation from suggestions of culthood becomes a difficult issue in recounting the official history of Landmark Education's origins — as the Hukill quote above implies. Landmark Education's predecessor-organization, Erhard Seminars Training or "est", founded by Werner Erhard, did get labelled as a cult — see for example the report of the sociological participant observation of "est" by Steven Tipton (1982, page 289), [Tipton, Steven M. "Getting saved from the sixties: moral meaning in conversion and cultural change". Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982.] or the recognition of the common perception by Eileen Barker in her study "New Religious Movements: A Practical Introduction". [cite book
last= Barker
first= Eileen
authorlink= Eileen Barker
title= New Religious Movements: A Practical Introduction
year= 1989
publisher= Her Majesty's Stationery Office
location= London
isbn= 0-11-340927-3
pages= 149
quote="... movements which do not fall under the definition of religion used by the Institute [for the study of American Religion] , but which are sometimes called 'cults'. Examples would be "est", Primal Therapy or Rebirthing."
] Thus Landmark Education attempts at times to distance itself (some might sayOr|date=December 2007 "distance itself appropriately) from "est" and from Erhard. It may make such attempts because some people (particularlyOr|date=December 2007 critics of the est organization and critics of Werner Erhard and Associates and critics of Werner Erhard and critics of Landmark Education itself), confuse the two organizations. Hence for example Art Schreiber's declaration of 2005-05-03 as preserved in the Landmark Education Litigation Archive:

Defendants constantly conflate Landmark and its programs with programs delivered in the 1970s and 1980s by Werner Erhard, popularly known as "est." Defendants are either being deliberately misleading or grossly negligent in doing so. When Landmark Education was founded in January 1991, it licensed certain program materials from Werner Erhard & Associates. In the 14 years since, Landmark Education's programs have evolved into very different offerings from those early materials. [Declaration of Arthur Schreiber in the United States District Court, District of New Jersey, civil action 04-3022 (JCL), page 3. PDF image of document online at as part of the Landmark Education Litigation Archive. (Retrieved 2006-11-22.)]

On the other hand, at other times Landmark references a variant view of its origins, as in the statement:

Landmark Education's programs and initiatives are based on research and a technology originally developed by Werner Erhard... Landmark Education considers him a friend and respects and appreciates the invaluable contribution he has made to millions of people through his work. [ [ Archived web-page] of Landmark Education, 2000-06-20, retrieved 2006-11-22; information which the owner of the site website subsequently rendered unavailable at some time between 2007-03-04 and 2007-04-07 per]

Whether Landmark Education's programs have changed since 1991 or not, Landmark Education statistics count every Landmark Forum "graduate" from 1991 onwards, regardless of the state of development of the program materials:

Since 1991, approximately 880,000 mostly professional and well-educated seekers have taken the introductory Forum ... * Updated to reflect 2005 numbers. [ [ Archived web-page] of Landmark Education, 2006-05-25, retrieved 2006-11-22; subsequently rendered unavailable at some time between 2007-03-04 and 2007-04-07 per]

Issues of freedom-of-speech

Printed matter

Over and above matters of setting the record straight (according to its lights) after legal wrangles, Landmark Education also functions pro-actively to hinder the dissemination of conventionally published but potentially damaging material.

For example, following the collapse of the old (skeptical) Cult Awareness Network (CAN) in 1996, [Laurie Goodstein: "Anti-Cult Group Dismembered As Former Foes Buy Its Assets: Network Forced Into Bankruptcy After Long Legal Battle", "The Washington Post", 01 December 1996; Page A01. Preview online at - retrieved 2006-12-16, and copy online at — retrieved 2006-12-16.] Landmark Education in 1997 signed an agreement with the bankruptcy trustee of the old Cult Awareness Network which contained this clause on the distribution of Steven Pressman's book "" (a biography of the man commonly considered the originator of Landmark Education, Werner Erhard):

h. CAN also understands that Landmark would prefer that CAN not sell at all copies of a biography of Werner Hans Erhard by Steven Pressman entitle "Outrageous Betrayal" (St Martin's Press 1993)(the "Pressman Book"). CAN has not previously considered whether, after its emergence from bankruptcy, CAN would consider it appropriate to sell copies of the Pressman Book at all, for any purpose. In the interests of settling a dispute and in deference to Landmark's preference, however, CAN now agrees not to sell the Pressman Book for at least five years after CAN emerges from bankruptcy. [Page 10 of "Landmark Settlement Agreement" with the Cult Awareness Network (CAN), revised 30 October 1997, signed 3 November 1997. Image of document available online as part of the "Landmark Education Litigation Archive" at -- Retrieved 2006-11-20.]

On the other hand, Landmark Education has stated, per its General Counsel Art Schreiber — quoted in an article which the publisher ("Red Herring") has graced with the heading "Landmark Fires Back at EFF: Organization says its subpoena of Google and YouTube is self-protection, not free speech muzzle" — that "freedom of speech ... is essential". [ [ "Landmark Fires Back at EFF: Organization says its subpoena of Google and YouTube is self-protection, not free speech muzzle"] at, November 3 2006. Retrieved 2006-11-20]

On the Internet

For details of Landmark Education's attempts to prevent the distribution per video of a public television broadcast featuring in part what Landmark Education regards as its copyrighted material over the Internet, see for example the article on the television documentary "Journey to the country of the new gurus".

Compare Scientology versus the Internet.

Labor laws

Landmark Education's large-scale use of the voluntary unpaid labor of its "graduate" "assistants" has brought it to the attention of certain governmental authorities charged with monitoring and enforcing laws. Thus in France in June 1994 a raid ["32, rue d’Hauteville.L’Inspection du Travail débarque dans les locaux de Landmark.." [TRANSLATION: "32, rue d’Hauteville. The Labor Inspectorate arrived in the premises of Landmark..." [ "Actualités sur les sectes en mai 2005"] ] on Landmark Education premises in Paris by the "Inspection du Travail" (Labor Inspectorate) "constate l’exploitation des bénévoles et dresse des procès-verbaux pour travail non déclaré" [Translation: "ascertain [ed] the exploitation of the volunteers and [drew] up official reports on undeclared work"] . [ [ "Actualités sur les sectes en mai 2005"] " (in French)]

Investigations of Landmark Education by the US labor-monitoring authorities have also taken place. For a detailed summary, see [ wikinews] .

Legal classification of Landmark Education

Certain governments, especially in Europe, have included Landmark Education in lists of or reports on cults and similar groups, thus using administrative means to set up legal and popular obstacles to the spread of the organization. Austrian, French and German authorities have at different times called the nature, methods and operations of Landmark Education into question.


For an Austrian example, see the brochure published by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Social Security and the Generations (Bundesministerium für soziale Sicherheit und Generationen): "Sekten - Wissen schützt" [Cults: knowledge can protect] . This documents briefly discusses Landmark Education under the rubric of "Psychogruppen" (Psycho-groups). [Bundesministerium für soziale Sicherheit und Generationen: "Sekten - Wissen schützt" [Cults: knowledge can protect] - in German. Online at - retrieved 2006-11-22]


After the French National Assembly set up a Parliamentary Commission on Cults in France in July 1995, the Commission published its [ report] in December 1995 and included Landmark Education's then subsidiary in France in its appended list of cults. Although some commentatorswho? severely criticised the Commission, the French Prime Minister in 2005, Jean-Pierre Raffarin, still cited the Report, suggesting that although because of the changing methodology of cultic groups, the names of specific cults appended to the report of the 1995 Parliamentary Commission 1995 had become less pertinent:

Cette vigilance doit s'exercer en tenant compte de l'évolution du phénomène sectaire, qui rend la liste de mouvements annexée au rapport parlementaire de 1995 de moins en moins pertinente. On constate en effet la formation de petites structures, diffuses, mouvantes et moins aisément identifiables, qui tirent en particulier parti des possibilités de diffusion offertes par l'internet. [Translation: We must exercise this vigilance in taking account of the evolution of the cult-phenomenon, which makes the list of movements attached to the Parliamentary Report of 1995 less and less pertinent. Indeed, one can observe the formation of small groups, scattered, mobile and less-easily identifiable, and which make use in particular of the possibilities of spreading offered by the Internet.] [ [ "Circulaire du 27 mai 2005 relative à la lutte contre les dérives sectaires"] ("Circulaire" of 27 May 2005 concerning the struggle against cultic manifestations)]

Furthermore, M. Raffarin suggested that in certain cases his civil servants should avoid depending on generic lists of groups:

" [U] n certain nombre d'instructions ministérielles données par vos prédécesseurs doivent être actualisées en fonction des orientations définies par la présente circulaire. Je vous demande de procéder à cet examen en lien avec la MIVILUDES. En tout état de cause, les références aux organismes comme l'Observatoire des sectes ou la Mission interministérielle de lutte contre les sectes (MILS) devront être remplacées par des références au décret instituant la MIVILUDES, et le recours à des listes de groupements sera évité au profit de l'utilisation de faisceaux de critères. Je vous demande de procéder à cette mise à jour au plus tard pour le 31 décembre 2005." [Translation: A certain number of ministerial instructions issued by your predecessors should be brought up-to-date in the light of the approaches defined in the current "circulaire". I ask you to carry out this scrutiny in consultation with MIVILUDES. In each case of justification, references to bodies such as the Cult Monitor or to the Interministerial Commission for Struggle against Cults (MILS) should be replaced with references to the decree setting up MIVILUDES, and falling back on lists of groups should be avoided in favor of using bands of criteria. I ask that you perform this update by 31 December 2005 at the latest.] [ [ "Circulaire du 27 mai 2005 relative à la lutte contre les dérives sectaires"] ("Circulaire" of 27 May 2005 concerning the struggle against cultic manifestations)]

However, the French government has advised not to use the Commission's classifications as a basis for deciding whether to classify an organization as a cultFact|date=August 2007.


In 1994, a report of the Senate Committee of the State of Berlin in Germany placed Landmark Education on a list entitled "entities espousing a world view and new religions". Landmark Education sued for correction and, on May 14, 1997, the Berlin court (Volksgericht 27A) endorsed a new classification scheme within the Senate report on cults and new religious movements: "provider of life guidance" ("Anbieter von Lebenshilfe". The December 1997 issue of the Berlin Senate Report on "Cults - Risks and Side-effects: Information on selected new religious movements, secular movements and psycho-offerings" accordingly puts Landmark Education in this context — along with (for example) Scientology. A translation of part of the Table of Contents ["Sekten" - Risiken und Nebenwirkungen: Informationen zu ausgewaehlten neuen religiõsen und weltanschaulichen Bewegungen und Psychoangeboten. Herausgeben von der Senatsverwaltung fũr Schule, Jugend and Sport. Redaktion: Anne Rũhle, Ina Kunst. Stand: Dezember 1997. Downloadable from - retrieved 2006-12-13.

Quoted text from the Table of Contents in the original German:

:7 Ausgewählte Anbieter:...:7.4 Anbieter von Lebenshilfe:kommerziell::7.4.1 Bruno Grõning-Freundeskreise:7.4.2 Kontext Seminar GmbH:7.4.3 Landmark Education (LE):7.4.4 Art Reade:7.4.5 Scientology:7.4.6 The Natale Institute (TNI):nicht kommerziell::7.4.7 Verein zur Fõrderung der psychologischen Menschenkenntniss (VPM)] shows the classification as: :7 Selected Providers:...:7.4 Providers of Life-Help:Commercial::7.4.1 The Circle of Friends of Bruno Gröning:7.4.2 Context Seminar Limited:7.4.3 Landmark Education (LE):7.4.4 Art Reade:7.4.5 Scientology:7.4.6 The Natale Institute (TNI):Non-commercial::7.4.7 Union for the Promotion of the Psychological Knowledge of Mankind

See also

* Landmark Education litigation


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