Law Schools

Suit over allegedly misleading law-job stats goes to trial

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In a trial that was scheduled to begin on Monday, a graduate of Thomas Jefferson School of Law with $170,000 in student debt is seeking damages against the law school for allegedly misleading job statistics.

The suit by Anna Alaburda is one of two suits that are still pending out of 15 that were filed, the New York Times reports in a story noted by the Washington Post. Other suits against various law schools were dismissed by judges or denied class-action status.

Judges who tossed lawsuits generally ruled that would-be law students were sophisticated enough to know that there was no guarantee of legal employment after graduation. In some of the suits, plaintiffs denied class-action status dropped their cases. Alaburda is still pursuing her case even though a judge refused to certify a class action.

Alaburda asserts in her suit that she would not have enrolled at Thomas Jefferson in San Diego if she had known its job statistics were misleading. Since graduation nearly 10 years ago, Alaburda has worked in a series of temporary jobs, most of them doing document review.

Bolstering Alaburda’s case is testimony by a former career services assistant director at Thomas Jefferson. The employee, Karen Grant, said in a declaration that she was instructed to list a graduate as “employed” if they had a job at any time within nine months of graduation, even if they didn’t have a job at the time of the survey. In 2012, then-dean Rudy Hasl called the allegations a “crock of crap.”

The school has maintained that it provided accurate employment statistics in the format then required by the ABA and the National Association for Law Placement. It also says Alaburda did not suffer any legal injury because she turned down a law-firm job paying $60,000 a year after graduation. Alaburda says it was the only job offer she received after sending her resume to more than 150 law firms and lawyers.

The other pending suit, against Widener University School of Law in Delaware, has been denied class-action status. The decision is on appeal.

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