Anna Alaburda, a 37-year-old graduate of Thomas Jefferson School of Law (TJSL), is finally getting the chance to argue her case against the school in court — nearly a decade after she attended, The New York Times reported.
Alaburda’s case is noteworthy.
It’s the first case to go to trial accusing a law school of using inflated post-graduation employment figures and salaries in order to defraud applicants.
Graduates of law schools filed more than a dozen proposed class-action lawsuits in 2011 and 2012 alone, according to The Wall Street Journal. These suits claimed the schools defrauded graduates into thinking employment prospects were rosier than they really were.
But judges have thrown out most of these suits, disagreeing with the premise that law students were defrauded.
While a judge ruled that Alaburda’s case couldn’t proceed as a class action representing other graduates, she is pursuing the case on her own behalf in a San Diego trial that starts Monday.
Alaburda graduated from New York University with a bachelor’s degree in 2002, before setting her sights on the legal profession.
She decided on TJSL after reading about its post-graduation statistics in its marketing brochures and in the 2003 US News & World report, according to the lawsuit.
US News & World Report stated that “80.1 per cent of students [at TJSL] were employed nine months after graduation,” according to the suit.
For comparison, Yale Law School, the top ranked law school in the nation by the US News, has a post-graduate employment rate of 88.2%, according to 2016 statistics.
At TJSL, Alaburda excelled, graduating in the top tier of her class, according to The Times. She also passed the bar exam on her first attempt. She graduated from the school in 2008.
But despite her academic successes, Alaburda has been unable to find full-time employment as a lawyer.
She has sent her resume to more than 150 law firms, and only received one job offer, which “was less favourable than non-law related jobs that were available to her,” the suit alleges.
In addition, she graduated with $150,000 in student loan debt, a figure which has since ballooned to $170,000 accounting for interest, and has been forced to accept part-time and non-legal work in order to pay her bills.
For its part, TJSL stands by the assertion that its graduates find successful employment after attending the school, according to the statement provided to The New York Times.
As Business Insider has previously reported, TJSL can provide an opportunity for aspiring lawyers who can’t get into other, more competitive schools.
TJSL did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.
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