Grad Loses Case Against 'Misleading' Law School

Jury votes 9-3 against Anna Alaburda
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 25, 2016 10:03 AM CDT
Grad Loses Case Against 'Misleading' Law School
Case closed.   (Shutterstock)

A split jury Thursday decided the case of Anna Alaburda versus the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, and it came down on the side of the school, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Alaburda, 37, sued the nonprofit California school in 2011, claiming it fudged post-graduation employment numbers. She said those figures lured her to attend, but she ended up with excess of $150,000 in student debt and without a job, even though she graduated near the top of her 2008 class and passed the bar on her first try. The jury rejected her suit's claims with a 9-3 vote, with at least one juror noting Alaburda's decision to turn down a law firm's 2008 job offer swayed his decision. She said she rejected the job because she believed it to be a predatory firm that took advantage of consumers; she still hasn't found a full-time salaried position as a lawyer.

Prominent among Alaburda's arguments was a US News and World Report ranking of law schools that placed Thomas Jefferson's grad employment rate around the same as other law schools, claiming more than 80% of its grads found jobs within nine months, per the New York Times. But the jobs it counted included those not tied to the study of law, including work in salons, restaurants, or even selling tractors—a data-compilation process one juror called "appalling," per the Union-Tribune. However, the stats were correct in the 2004 and 2005 editions Alaburda had read, and the judge advised the jury to consider only those editions. The school's lawyer conceded "isolated mistakes" and "clerical errors" with the school's data collection but noted there was no evidence the school actually lied, the AP reports. (More lawsuit stories.)

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