Law Grads Win 'Historic' Court Date Against School

Students accuse California school of fraud over employment stats
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2016 10:33 AM CST
   (Thomas Jefferson School of Law)

(Newser) – Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego is often listed pretty far down the national rankings, with relatively low LSAT scores and a 46% bar passage rate, reports the Daily Caller. And the post-graduation employment rate may be even lower than the 60% the school advertises, which prompted 2008 honors graduate Anna Alaburda to put her legal skills to work with a class-action lawsuit against the school alleging fraud. Five years and three additional plaintiffs later—and at a time when at least a dozen similar lawsuits are petering out in court, notes the Wall Street Journal—Alaburda is about to get her day in court. A judge just set a trial date for March. "Never before has a law school been forced to actually stand trial for allegedly inflating its employment statistics," observes a post at Above the Law. "This is historic."

Quartz thinks the implications "are huge" for other schools, possibly putting them on the hook for millions in damages. The graduates specifically accuse the law school of committing fraud and negligence and of violating multiple state statutes, alleging among other things that it fudged numbers on those who had found work in the legal field. Now San Diego Superior Court Judge Joel Pressman has found for the plaintiffs on every cause of action in setting a trial date. He specifically noted the school's use of employment stats: "A reasonable consumer expects the employment figure to include graduates who work in law-related jobs," he wrote. If found guilty, Quartz sees a potential lesson: "Never try and swindle people who have just spent the last three years of their lives meticulously learning how to spot deceit."

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