Warning From Great Britain: The “Lawscam” Excuse Is Coming To Colleges

It was all the fault of imperial Indian history....

It was all the fault of imperial Indian history….

The controversy died down a bit in 2016, but it is still out there: unemployed young lawyers are still blaming their law schools for the fact that their degrees didn’t deliver riches and success in a competitive field. When a ballyhooed lawsuit by one such lawyer failed last April, it briefly muted the howling, but the central misconception is still virulent. From the Ethics Alarms post about that law suit:

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.

One failed suit, however, couldn’t undo the destructive false message society and its leaders have been issuing for decades: “the purpose of earning a diploma is to get a good job.” As more and more young men and women are steered into college and a college degree becomes symbolic of nothing, there will be more law suits by college graduates like the one currently being fought in Great Britain, where Faiz Siddiqui, an Oxford graduate, is suing his alma mater for not giving him a first-class degree 16 years ago. (In British universities, graduating with a “first class degree” is roughly similar to graduating “with honors” in an American college. Based on a student’s grades, Oxford gives out three classes of degrees, first-class being the highest.)

Siddiqui is now 38 years old, angry and disillusioned. In his suit, he alleges that his life and career were stunted because he didn’t earn “a first,” as the degree is called, when he  studied modern history at Brasenose College and graduated from Oxford University in June 2000. “Negligent teaching” in a course on Indian imperial history, he says, pulled down his overall grade and ruined his life. Now he’s asking for a million British pounds in damages for his lack of lifetime earnings in a legal action against the Oxford chancellor, masters and scholars. His barrister, Roger Mallalieu, also claims that Oxford is responsible for Siddiqui’s insomnia and depression.

Apparently the history module was less than optimum while Siddiqui was a student, because half of the teaching staff responsible for Asian history were on sabbatical.  Mallalieu told the British high court that the inferior teaching resulted in his client’s lesser grade and thus “denied him the chance of becoming a high-flying commercial barrister.” Continue reading

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. Continue reading