Anna Alaburda takes on her former law school — for allegedly misrepresenting its post-grad employment figures
A graduate who has been unable to find full-time employment as a lawyer in almost a decade of searching is about to get an up close and personal taste of the law in action. Having sued her former law school, her day in court starts today.
Anna Alaburda graduated top of her class from Thomas Jefferson School of Law in California in 2008, leaving with a degree and $150,000 (£105,000) worth of debt. The now 37-year-old then passed the bar exam and went on to work in various part-time roles.
A promising start, but eight years down the line the grad hasn’t found her holy grail: a full-time position as a lawyer. Alaburda was offered a job in a law firm that came with $60,000 (£42,000) salary — but she turned it down. This is because, she said, the job was less favourable than other non-law roles that were available at the time.
Her lawsuit — originally filed in 2011 — claims that the law school’s post-grad employment stats were misleading, and that she would have never enrolled there had she been aware of this.
She’s not the first to go to these extremes: the New York Times reports that in the past several years, 15 similar lawsuits have been brought. However — despite the school’s efforts to get her case thrown out — Alaburda has managed to do what no other law grad has done before, and got her case to the courtroom.
Her lawyer — Brian Procel of Los Angeles-based firm Miller Barondess – said:
[T]his will be the first time a law school will be on trial to defend its public employment figures.
Bringing lawsuits against law schools is far more common across the pond than on home soil for various reasons – not least because US law school fees are wildly more expensive than in the UK. Some law schools even offer money back guarantees for unemployed grads.
And it may be that Alaburda has a point. When Legal Cheek spoke to UCL professor Richard Moorhead, he explained:
The problems with some US law schools inflating their employment statistics by sometimes questionable means is well-known. I’ve not seen anything like it here.
The case is listed for today at the San Diego Superior Court, where jury selection is scheduled to get underway. The law school is expected to argue that the unhappy grad didn’t suffer any injury because she was offered a job at a law firm but turned it down. Moreover, its Dean, Thomas Guernsey, said in a statement that the school has “a strong track record of producing successful graduates, with 7,000 alumni working nationally and internationally”.