Jury Rejects Damages Suit By Jefferson School Of Law Grad Who Claims She Was Defrauded. Good.

alaburda

A jury this week rejected a law suit by  Anna Alaburda (above), a 2008 graduate of Thomas Jefferson School of Law. seeking  damages on the grounds that the San Diego institution misled her by fraudulently enhancing  job-placement data concerning its alumni. The case had been hailed by supporters of the alleged “Lawscam” conspiracy theory that holds that students across the country have been gulled by promises of riches, firm partnerships and career success into paying for degree that only brought them debt and disappointment. Similar suits had been dismissed or abandoned, and this was supposed to be the lawsuit that broke the dam.

Alaburda’s sad tale was that she has been unable to find full-time work as a lawyer even though she graduated near the top of her class and she still has to pay $170,000 in educational debt. She sought $125,000 in damages: $92,000 in lost income and $32,000 for tuition and fees.  The San Diego Superior Court jury voted 9-3 to reject her fraud claim, however. A single fact in evidence explains why all by itself: she turned down a perfectly good career-starting offer (paying $60,000 a year) from a firm shortly after graduation, apparently on the grounds that she felt the firm was too hard on mortgage delinquents.  Well, the school didn’t promise nice legal jobs: that was her decision, her mistake, and her misfortune. The rejection of the kind of  job offer many young lawyers were desperate for  broke any chain of causality between the alleged fraud and her alleged damages. I’d like to know where Alaburda’s lawyer went to law school and learned that this pathetic case was a viable suit. Maybe that lawyer should sue for educational malpractice.

The legal industry crashed with everything else in the economy in 2008, and there was a glut of lawyers anyway, at least a glut of lawyers who thought they were fit for interesting, high-paying work. Anyone deluding themselves into believing that a law degree was an elite career guarantee was a), none too bright to begin with, and b), in the wrong profession, for legal practice is about using skills of analysis, problem solving and advocacy to help people and organizations be the beneficiaries of the law rather than victims of it. In addition, using the skills developed in law school in business, entrepreneurship, public service, government, academia, the non-profit sector, journalism and many other areas is as good a use of a law degree—I would say better—than employing them in law alone. The “Lawscam” narrative gave failed graduates like Alaburda a neat way to blame others and duck accountability for their own mistakes and bad choices.

It also prompted the ABA and the laws schools themselves to tighten up what had become questionable puffery practices: even a phony conspiracy theory can unearth real issues.

The rejection of Alaburda’s law suit sends a message that young lawyers need to hear, and heed. If they thought a law degree was going to guarantee their success, they have been tragically confused by the culture’s hucksters and politicians, not the law schools.  For too long, education has been sold as the key to income and jobs, when it is nothing but a process designed to make more competent, able, creative and responsible human beings. By itself, a degree proves nothing. It only signifies that its owner has had access to useful knowledge and the chance to develop useful skills. It is up to graduates to use that knowledge and those skills to make a life for themselves. If they fail to achieve their goals, they cannot blame the law school because they perceived a promise that was never made.

The Lawscam myth has been a crippling rationalization that has kept young lawyers from necessary self-examination and the acceptance of responsibility.

Maybe now they can stop playing victim, and get to work.

_____________________

Pointer and Source: ABA

Facts: Union-Tribune

6 thoughts on “Jury Rejects Damages Suit By Jefferson School Of Law Grad Who Claims She Was Defrauded. Good.

  1. Again, the trap of “I’m entitled” which far too many people erroneously believe. The woman is too damn nearsighted: No university or law school can guarantee a great job in the career of their choice. As you stated, she apparently has learned skills that could be the path to a career in many fields.

    • The Lawscam folks dispute the latter, as you will learn if you look at the comments in my past posts on this topic. They argue that a law degree is an impediment to finding non-legal work, despite a Grand Canyon full of evidence to the contrary, because without that myth, their whole theory collapses, and law grad who can’t find jobs suddenly have to face the fact that they are the problem, not their law schools or the law schools job stats.

      • I actually somewhat disagree with you (albeit I eventually come to the same conclusion in a different way). I don’t think that a law degree out of Thomas Jefferson School of Law would be at all helpful in finding non-legal work. For this simple reason: Employers will fall into two classes of people: those who are not at all impressed by a law degree or those who are impressed by a law degree and then immediately unimpressed by the fact that such a law degree comes from a place like Thomas Jefferson School of Law or Thomas Cooley School of Law. While there probably is a grand canyon of evidence to suggest that a law degree is helpful in finding nonlegal work, I’d be comfortable betting that there isn’t even a scintilla of evidence that a law degree from a none-ranked law schools is helpful in finding nonlegal work. Also, let’s not forget that when you went to law school, it was indisputable evidence that you were smart. That’s not the case anymore. Just like 70 years ago a college degree was indisputable evidence that you had some intellectual ability-not so today. Because college is open to everyone, it doesn’t separate wheat from chaff anymore. Same is true of law school.

        That being said, there’s a ton of evidence that there are actually full time legal jobs available out there that just don’t pay that well. Lawscam folks should not argue that there isn’t full time work for lawyers-there is full time legal work-and, ironically, too few lawyers to do this type of work. Lawscam folks should be arguing that there isn’t full time work that justifies taking out $200,000.00 in student loans. In this, they might be right. Luckily, as the market changes and fewer and fewer students are going to law school, fewer people are taking that out. I’m currently at Washington and Lee School of Law. I only know of one or two people going at full price.

        In this particular case, Anna was foolish not to take the full time job. Why in the world would she do this-especially with the economy where it was then? Take the job and see if it leads to a better position later. However, I’m not 100% convinced that the law school, in the absence of that fact, wouldn’t have engaged in fraudulent activity. At the least, I think the actions of some of these law schools are ethically despicable, although I’m not certain any of their actions quite amount to fraud. Here, she definitely has to take responsibility for her own stupidity. However, if she hadn’t been offered the job, the case would become more difficult for me personally. You’re probably right that the law school’s actions don’t amount to fraud, but that doesn’t mean that these law schools haven’t acted despicably by taken advantage of students who are intellectually vulnerable.

        I am currently 29 years old. I am in my second year of law school. I did not go to law school in 2009 when I graduated college because everyone was going, and I have a basic understanding of supply and demand. Like everything else, the market had to crash. I waited for the market to crash. I am going tuition free to the same first tier law school that my Irish twin paid full tuition to attend right out of college, even though I had a significantly worse GPA. (I did beat her slightly on the LSATs, but not by a meaningful amount).

        You may say, “yeah, well everyone should be able to do that, and therefore the law school didn’t engage in fraudulent activity.” Except there is one key fact not implicated here. Places like Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Cooley target students who just took a test about logic and reasoning, and did exceptionally poorly. This seems to me very good evidence that the students cannot protect themselves because they lack the intellectual/rational tools to be able to see when they are “being sold a bridge”. Anyone who can do the logic I did with the supply and demand argument above will get better than a 150 on the LSATs, even without studying, and not be relegated to these fourth tier trash pits. (The first time I did the LSAT just to see what it would be like, without much effort, I believe I got a 155-well above Thomas Jefferson level). I definitely agree, however, that it’s the culture and school system that left students without the ability to do simple reasoning-that fact cannot be laid at the feet of the law schools. On the other hand, when the law schools target intellectually inferior students, this practice seems to me to be ugly and vicious. It might not quite be fraud, but it’s despicable nonetheless.

        One final note: I don’t mean to lay this all on the fourth tier law schools that no one with a brain should ever attend in the current market. Another related vice occurring at law schools (and this even occurs at excellent law schools), is continuing to pass students who prove that they cannot survive the intellectual rigor of law. 100 years ago, law students received Fs on law school exams, and if they weren’t intellectually capable of law were asked to leave after their first year. Now, those same students get Cs (or even B-s) and the school keeps them around to suck another two years tuition out of them. This too is despicable. It may seem like a kindness, but it’s not. If a student proves, even in a good school, that he or she doesn’t have the intellectual gifts to pass the bar, the school has an ethical obligation to flunk that student. And here I think we diverge in our logic. (Or maybe we don’t, you can tell me). Yes, law students should be self-reflective and honest with themselves about their chances. Yes, law students who are not successful should look at their own work ethics and other problems that may have kept them from having successful careers. Also, they should obviously go do ANYTHING at all related to law. But, it seems to me also true, that law schools have ethical duties and responsibilities to their students that they have been systematically failing to meet for years. You’re probably right that none of those ethical duties and responsibilities add up to any legal violations-but this doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t look at law schools, as they are currently organized and executed, with some degree of disdain.

  2. These commenters are some harsh critics. They didn’t give all the reasons for why Alaburda didn’t take the full time position, there was more. Also, to say that someone is foolish is judgmental and myopic, is actually horrible.

    I took French and Italian for years, paid full price tuition and never used it in a career or even got a chance to use it for travel, but is that foolish? Id rather occupy my mind studying italian then going to the bar and drinking with people that could care less about me. Nothing pleases you people. And what about the people that sued Trump University? Were they foolish to attend? Oh no they received a settlement so you probably don’t think so. There is always someone looking to take advantage of others. Alaburda’s fight made it easier for those in the “Trump” University lawsuit to claim their settlement. Alaburda broke barriers. Did you happen to know that the entire jury was men? I’m sure their sexist attitudes had something to do with the 9 to 3. And one of the jurors called up Alaburda’s attorney begging to change his decision in favor of Alaburda. The fact of the matter is Thomas Jefferson inflated their statistics. Its known they prey on first generation immigrant families who are trying to better than circumstances as well. Does someone that takes out loans of $125,000 sound like someone who comes from a lineage of entitlement and privelege? Alaburda wasn’t allowed to bring anything in the courtroom of her family history, her upbringing or social economic level, if her parents ever attended higher education, the defense fought it, probably in hopes that she would look exactly how they wanted her to appear to you, like a upper middle class, overly entitled caucasian female. The defense groomed that image and all of you are so blind you fell for it. Alaburda took work for years in gig after gig doing law work. You guys need more facts. Don’t be so quick to judge someone who tried. The commenters are overlooking the good Alaburda did by bringing exposure to this issue for everyone. If I was about to sink a hundred thousand into a degree into a law school, Id want to know if that school counted their previous alumni who were working in retail at victoria secrets in their statics as fully employed after acquiring a law degree and these commenters would, too.

    • Wow! Seldom does a comment consist of so many empty arguments and half-baked nonsense. Let me disabuse you of as many as I can before the headache becomes unbearable.

      I’m assuming you aren’t lawyer, or else you went to Trump Law School.

      They didn’t give all the reasons for why Alaburda didn’t take the full time position, there was more.

      The reasons don’t matter. It was a job. She hasd a duty to mitigate damages. She can’t sue claiming “I couldn’t find a job” when she had one in her hand.

      Also, to say that someone is foolish is judgmental and myopic, is actually horrible.

      No, it’s actually how we learn to avoid and discourage foolish conduct. Of course it’s “judgmental.” We all have a duty to judge conduct, so society’ conduct gets better. How about doing some research about the blog and its mission before making an uninformed comment?

      I took French and Italian for years, paid full price tuition and never used it in a career or even got a chance to use it for travel, but is that foolish?

      Irrelevant. Did you sue the school? No? Then get on point.

      Nothing pleases you people.

      Frivolous lawsuits by people who want others to pay for their bad decisions shouldn’t please anyone.

      And what about the people that sued Trump University?

      What about them? It was a fraud. No one has alleged that the law school didn’t teach law. You know, instead of learning foreign languages, a little logic and critical think training would have helped.

      Were they foolish to attend?

      Probably. A university named after a self-evident idiot and huckster should raise some concerns.


      There is always someone looking to take advantage of others

      A rolling stone gathers no moss. Your turn! .

      Alaburda’s fight made it easier for those in the “Trump” University lawsuit to claim their settlement.

      No, it really didn’t Completely unrelated.


      Did you happen to know that the entire jury was men? I’m sure their sexist attitudes had something to do with the 9 to 3.

      There is no reason to assume that at all. It was a bad lawsuit.

      And one of the jurors called up Alaburda’s attorney begging to change his decision in favor of Alaburda.

      The fact that the juror did that proves that one juror is an idiot. That’s all it proves.

      The fact of the matter is Thomas Jefferson inflated their statistics.

      Why don’t you read the other posts about this on Ethics Alarms? It’s fraud if the law school didn’t provide a legal education. Anyone who goes to law school because of school employment stats is a fool. Simple as that.

      Its known they prey on first generation immigrant families who are trying to better than circumstances as well.

      It’s “known”? Prove it. And there is no special gullibility allowance for special groups.

      Well, that’s all I can stand. Check back in when you learn to argue and think.

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