Paul L. Caron

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Jury Rejects Fraud Claim Against Thomas Jefferson Law School

Thomas Jefferson Logo (2015)San Diego Union-Tribune, Jury Rejects Fraud Claim Against Law School:

A San Diego Superior Court jury on Thursday disagreed with a former law student who claimed the Thomas Jefferson School of Law willfully misrepresented employment data to perspective students.

The jury was split, 9-3, in the school's favor.

Anna Alaburda, who graduated near the top of her class in 2008, said she enrolled in the school after reading about the high employment rate of its graduates. She has never worked full-time as an attorney since her graduation, however, and her lawsuit questioned the accuracy of data presented by the school.

While the employment rate of graduates appeared in some rankings to be about the same as other law schools, Alaburda’s attorney during the trial said the school didn’t disclose that some of those graduates were working in book stores, restaurants, hair salons and even selling tractors.

An attorney for the school rejected the claims and said Alaburda never proved them. The attorney also reminded jurors that she had turned down a job offer, and that many Thomas Jefferson alumni have had successful careers.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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Anon @ 10:30:06 AM:

I am curious. Is your position that many schools never posted expected starting salary figures of say $100k, fully knowing that the true number was $50k? You simply allege that this did not happen?

Posted by: anon. 25 | Mar 25, 2016 12:25:37 PM

I almost forgot - the other ones were dismissed on Summary Judgment. So I guess that means that the allegations have merit? I must have missed that day in civil procedure too.

Posted by: Anon | Mar 25, 2016 10:30:06 AM

UNE: I didnt know that a jury verdict on a fraud case, under a generous state statute for misrepresentation against a school considered to be one of the "bad actors", has no effect on whether fraud or misrepresentation occurred. Thanks for clearing that up.

Posted by: Anon | Mar 25, 2016 10:28:12 AM

I too have been critical of the majority of law schools. I stand corrected- mea culpa. The fact that 75% of a jury felt that Thomas Jefferson was not liable for fraud clearly demonstrates how well-regarded a JD from Thomas Jefferson is. Now that the school's been fully vindicated, maybe it can raise its admission standards and have a median incoming LSAT of a 147, or even a 148 (better get cracking on that Princeton Review or Kaplan Course college kids)!!

Posted by: Cent Rieker | Mar 25, 2016 10:09:22 AM

Poor woman. The Anita Hill of law school student loan fraud victims: Everyone knows she's right but they're not going to do anything about it, no.

Posted by: Nellmezzo | Mar 25, 2016 9:38:35 AM

I am not sure I understand what the basis of an appeal would be here. The Plaintiffs appeared to get most of the legal rulings on this particular case in their favor, they got a full trial, and the jury ruled against them. The denial of class cert would appear to be moot if the lead plaintiff lost her case. From thr plaintiffs' point of view - this was their best shot; the other cases were largely cookie cutter complaints talking about an industry rather than school-specific allegations.

Posted by: bIeber | Mar 25, 2016 9:35:39 AM


Didn't realize that this one trial about one law school was a final, non-appealable, and universal ruling on all fraud and misrepresentation claims at all law schools. I learn something new about civil procedure every day! Or that, assuming this constructive fiction is true, it requires apologies by people who believed otherwise. I'll end by referencing Emory Law professors Morgan Cloud and George Shepherd's wonderful law review article "Law Deans in Jail."

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Mar 25, 2016 7:41:48 AM

Hi "Anon @ 6:29:16 AM",

Have you noticed the decrease in law school matriculants in conjunction with the improved employment data transparency? What do you think explains that?

Posted by: anon. 25 | Mar 25, 2016 7:22:26 AM

Can I assume, then, that there will now be approximately 75,000 retractions of previous statements on this and other blogs, which had stated that law schools "lied," "committed fraud," or "acted deceptively"?

Didnt think so.

Posted by: Anon | Mar 25, 2016 6:29:16 AM

One less thing for the school to worry about. Now they just have worry about things like their $133 million bond default and restructuring that left them sans ownership of the building they floated the bonds to build in the first place, 82% acceptance rate with a median LSAT/GPA of 144 and 2.74, and that only 87 of 293 Co2014 grads found long-term, full-time, license-required work at any salary within ten months of graduation* (compare to 106 still unemployed or status unknown at that time). Oh, and that 33% first-time bar passage rate in California... But hey, no more fraud lawsuit (until the inevitable appeal), so at least they fared better than Corinthian this week!

*With a 32% reporting rate on their most recent NALP, the median salary was but $55,000, or considerably less than one year's tuition and living expenses.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Mar 24, 2016 11:00:00 PM

The headline should be "Press Convicts Thomas Jefferson School of Law; Jury Informed of the Facts of the Case Disagrees"

Posted by: Headline | Mar 24, 2016 8:26:32 PM

Unfortunately, the jury got it right.

Posted by: Captain Hruska Carswell, Continuance King | Mar 24, 2016 6:54:05 PM