The 2016 'Go-To' Law Schools

gavelThomas Jefferson Law Goes To Trial Against Alum

A trial between the Thomas Jefferson School of Law and Anna Alaburda, a graduate of the school,began this week in San Diego. Alaburda is requesting $125,000 and a “unspecified” amount of punitive damages, reports the L.A. Times. The case is one of 15 that have involved a law graduate accusing their school of inflating employment numbers in their marketing and promotions for the school. This is the only case that has actually made it to trial.
Alaburda’s attorney, Brian Procel, will try to convince a jury that Alaburda quit her job in the pathology department at the University of Southern California, where her salary was $30,000 for a better career path through a J.D. from Thomas Jefferson. “She would not have gone there if she knew the truth,” Procell told the L.A. Times. Procel also said Alaburda graduated in 2008 with honors, passed the California bar on the first attempt and has never held a full-time salaried attorney position.
In his opening statements, Michael Sullivan, the attorney representing Thomas Jefferson, argued the school was not responsible for how data surrounding national rankings and employment statistics are compiled. Sullivan also questioned how much employment statistics factored into Alaburda’s decision to quit her job to attend Thomas Jefferson. “The reason she went to Thomas Jefferson School of Law was that it was the only law school she was admitted to,” Sullivan said, as reported by the L.A. Times.
Of course, the issue at the heart of this case (and similar ones) inovolves lower ranked law schools reporting higher job placement rates because they include any sort of employment. Procel argued the 84.4% job placement rate reported by Thomas Jefferson to the U.S. News in 2005 included jobs such as “bartenders, waiters and pool cleaners.” Procel told jurors he could produce an email from the then dean telling administration to report employed graduates in the reports even if the actual employment position was unknown. He also claimed he could produce a handwritten note from an administrator saying she had been trained to manipulate employment numbers.
Sullivan questioned Alaburda’s decision to turn down a $60,000 position at a San Bernardino, California law firm. He also pointed out that her current position is with a legal publisher where Alaburda makes $70,000. “She was not damaged,” he said. “She got a job more than double what she was making.”
Source: L.A. Times
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