Unemployed lawyer sues Thomas Jefferson School of Law

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SAN DIEGO — An unusual trial is scheduled in San Diego Superior Court Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by a former student against her law school, charging that it inflated employment data for its graduates as a way to lure students to enroll.

Anna Alaburda, 37, said that since graduating from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in 2008, she has yet to find a full-time salaried job as an attorney.

Jury selection is expected to get underway Tuesday in the courtroom of Judge Joel Pressman.

Alaburda filed her lawsuit in 2011, claiming she would not have enrolled in the school had she known the school’s statistics were misleading. Alaburda said she has student debt totaling $170,000.

Attorneys for Thomas Jefferson School of Law are expected to argue that Alaburda did not suffer any actual injury because she was offered — and turned down — a $60,000-a-year job with a law firm after she graduated.

The Thomas Jefferson School of Law issued the following statement on behalf of Dean Thomas Guernsey:

“While we cannot comment on the specifics of the lawsuit during ongoing litigation, we can say that Thomas Jefferson School of Law is whole-heartedly committed to providing our students with the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to excel as law students, pass the bar exam and succeed in their professional careers. We have a strong track record of producing successful graduates, with 7,000 alumni working nationally and internationally.”

In the past several years, at least 15 lawsuits have sought to hold various law schools accountable for publicly listing information that critics say was used to inflate alumni job numbers, but only one other lawsuit besides Alaburda’s remains active, according to published reports.

Judges in other states have ruled that law students opted for law school at their own peril, and should have known that employment as an attorney was not guaranteed.

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