Former law student files fraud class action against Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Anna Alaburda, a former law student at Thomas Jefferson School of Law (TJSL), in San Diego, filed a class action lawsuit against the school on May 26, 2011, in Superior Court for the State of California.  Alaburda graduated with honors (and more than $150,000 in student loan debt) from the school in 2008.  Prior to enrolling, Alaburda researched the school in publications including US News & World Report.  One of the statistics reported by US News, post-graduate employment rate, showed that the TJSL graduates gained employment within nine months following graduation at rates exceeding 80 and 90 percent, depending on the year.  Alaburda alleges that these employment statistics are intentionally misleading because the school will treat any type of employment (not necessarily full-time or legal-related) as "employment."  In addition the school will employ former students for a two-week period immediately before the reporting period simply for the purpose of boosting their numbers.  TJSL advises prospective students in written materials that it "offers unmatched legal and economic opportunities."  However, in reality, the school's graduates have a deplorable bar passage rate, average student loan debt significantly exceeding that of Stanford, scholarship opportunities that are revoked by the school after the first year, and bleak employment prospects.  In 2007, the school's graduates had a bar passage rate of 36.5 percent, the lowest in the country.  And the school's bar passage rate continues to hover below 50 percent.  Brian Procel of Miller Barondess, LLP, represents Alaburda and the proposed class.  The petition seeks compensatory damages, punitive damages, equitable relief, and attorney's fees, and alleges unfair business practices, false advertising, intentional fraud, and negligent misrepresentation.