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San Diego County jury rejects fraud claim against Thomas Jefferson School of Law

A San Diego County Superior Court jury on Thursday disagreed with a former law student who claimed the Thomas Jefferson School of Law willfully misrepresented employment data to prospective students.

The jury was split, 9 to 3, in the school's favor.

Anna Alaburda, who graduated near the top of her class in 2008, said she enrolled in the school after reading about the high employment rate of its graduates. She has never worked full-time as an attorney since her graduation, however, and her lawsuit questioned the accuracy of data presented by the school.

While the employment rate of graduates appeared in some rankings to be about the same as other law schools, Alaburda’s attorney during the trial said the school didn’t disclose that some of those graduates were working in book stores, restaurants, hair salons and even selling tractors.

An attorney for the school rejected the claims and said Alaburda never proved them. The attorney also reminded jurors that she had turned down a job offer, and that many Thomas Jefferson alumni have had successful careers.

Alaburda is not alone in complaining that she enrolled in a law school after reading misleading information about the employment success of graduates. Hers was among 15 suits filed by graduates with similar complaints across the country.

In other cases, judges rejected requests to grant class-action status to the lawsuits or rejected the cases after saying the students were sophisticated enough to know about the job market themselves.

Alaburda had sought $92,192 in lost income and $32,475 in reimbursement of tuition and fees.

Gary Warth writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.


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