Part-time employed grad takes law school to court

A disgruntled law graduate who found herself unable to secure full-time employment as a lawyer for almost 10 years after graduating is now suing the university where she obtained her degree.

Anna Alaburda, 37, is suing Thomas Jefferson School of Law in California for allegedly misrepresenting its post-graduation employment figures. Though she has held a variety of part-time positions, Ms Alaburda claims that she has been unable to secure a full-time post as a lawyer with a satisfactory salary—despite graduating first in her class from Thomas Jefferson in 2008 and accruing nearly $150,000 worth of debt to obtain her degree. The lawsuit, originally filed in 2011, is due to be heard at the San Diego Superior Court this week.

Ms Alaburda has accused Thomas Jefferson of misreporting employment outcomes for graduates to the American Bar Association, arguing that had she known the figures provided by the school were misleading she would have pursued her law degree elsewhere. Thomas Jefferson refutes the claim that Ms Alaburda has suffered injury on the grounds that she was in fact offered a full-time post with a $60,000 annual salary. However, Ms Alaburda turned down the position because she claimed that other more favourable non-law roles were available to her at the time.

According to the New York Times, at least 15 such cases have been brought by frustrated law grads against their universities over the last few years. However, Ms Alaburda’s is the first to make it to a courtroom.

‘It’s significant that a California court is allowing her case to go to trial. It places the spotlight on an important question about how law schools specifically and universities generally recruit students,’ writes Harvard Law School professor Noah R. Feldman in The Australasian Lawyer. ‘If law schools are deceiving prospective students, then self-policing has indeed failed and Alaburda was right to sue.’ Sources: Global Legal Post; Legal Cheek; Australasian Lawyer.

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