Posted Mar 24, 2016 04:15 pm CDT
A California jury on Thursday rejected a claim by a 2008 graduate of Thomas Jefferson School of Law that she was entitled to damages because the San Diego institution inflated job-placement data concerning its alumni.
Plaintiff Anna Alaburda said she has been unable to find full-time work as a lawyer even though she graduated near the top of her class and is struggling with $170,000 in educational debt. She had sought $125,000 in damages, comprised of a little more than $92,000 in lost income and $32,000 for tuition and fees she paid.
However, in what is believed to be the first such case to go to trial, a San Diego Superior Court jury voted 9-3 to reject her fraud claim, according to the Associated Press and the San Diego Union-Tribune.
A lawyer for the school argued that Alaburda had turned down a job and said she hadn’t shown that statistical information provided by Thomas Jefferson to its applicants led to her lack of full-time legal employment.
It wasn’t clear from law school statistics that graduates listed as employed weren’t necessarily working at legal jobs. However, attorney Michael Sullivan, who represented the school, said there was no intentional misrepresentation and any mistakes were clerical errors, Courthouse News reports.
The 37-year-old Alaburda stormed out of the courtroom ahead of her lawyer, Brian Procel, as soon as the jurors were excused, the article recounts.
Law school dean Thomas Guernsey said he hopes the “real story” of the school will now be emphasized.
“There has been a lot of negative press and social media that has resulted from this lawsuit. There’s a general negative narrative of legal education now,” he told reporters after the verdict. “I’m hoping we can get beyond this lawsuit to show what a fine institution it is.”
ABAJournal.com: “Honors Grad Working as Doc Reviewer Sues Law School, Says She Was Misled by US News Stats”
ABAJournal.com: “Thos. Jefferson Answers Grad’s Suit, Says Bar-Pass Stats Showed Some JDs Weren’t Working Lawyers”
ABAJournal.com: “Suit over allegedly misleading law-job stats goes to trial”