Struggling Law graduate sues Thomas Jefferson School of Law for rigging employment statistics
Mar 10, 2016 06:47 PM EST
Nearly a decade since graduation, Anna Alaburda has yet to land a full-time paying job as a lawyer. Despite graduating in the top cluster of her class, her $150,000-worth law degree from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law seemed pointless. But Alaburda will soon get her day in court in the most unusual turn of events: she's suing the school for presenting misleading statistics and promising lucrative employment possibilities for its law graduates.
In her complaint, 37-year-old Alaburda claims that Thomas Jefferson indicated in the 2003 U.S. News & World Report rankings that 80.1 percent of its graduates were employed within nine months of receiving their law degrees.
Such wasn't the case for Anna Alaburda who, after sending her resume to 150 law firms, only received one full-time offer that paid less than employment offers in other industries and sectors, The Washington Post noted.
Alaburda also took a hit at the school's abysmal bar passage rate which was constantly lower than 50 percent. Thomas Jefferson School of Law's passage rate was even lower than the average in California.
According to The New York Times, Anna Alaburda now has $170,000 in student debt plus loan interest of around eight percent. Alaburda's numbers are close to Thomas Jefferson's average student indebtedness, which was at $137,000 in 2011 and higher than Stanford Law School in the same year.
Anna Alaburda's lawsuit against Thomas Jefferson School of Law is not exactly a novelty. There have been 15 other lawsuits previously filed against various law schools, seeking to hold the latter accountable for publicly listing inflated statistics, which counted waitressing and other unrelated jobs to pump up its employment rating . But Alaburda's case against her former alma matter, which she first initiated in 2011, is the first to go to trial.
CNN reported Judge Joel Pressman of the California Superior Court in San Diego allowed the case to proceed to trial, noting that it was reasonable for a person to assume that employment statistics, particularly in relation to law school, would not include "any and all jobs" as such figure would be "meaningless in the context of a legal education."
In its response, Thomas Jefferson alleges that Alaburda did not incur any injury since she was, in fact, offered a full-time lawyer position by a law firm in Southern California within nine months of graduation. She would've earned $60,000 a year plus benefits. Alaburda reportedly declined the offer because the law firm did not agree to pay her bar dues and also required her to travel to San Bernardino for a one-month training.
Dean Thomas Guernsey of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law stated Monday that the school is fully committed to equipping students with the knowledge and skills necessary for them to excel as students, pass the bar exam and lead successful professional careers.
Ana Alaburda is seeking a $125,000 indemnity.