Breaking: Class Action Suit Filed Against Thomas Jefferson School of Law

Update: Follow the latest on Alaburda v. TJSL here.

At least one graduate has chosen to seek judicial relief from her alma mater in a class action that could include over 2,300 graduates of Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, California. Sara Randazzo broke the news (subscription required) at midnight PDT in the Daily Journal. The story will be available in print Friday morning.

The complaint (see the case summary below) alleges that Thomas Jefferson School of Law (TJSL) has engaged in “fraudulent and deceptive business practices,” including “a practice of misrepresenting its post-graduation employment statistics,” and that “the disservice TJSL is doing to its students and society generally is readily apparent.” The complaint cites a number of news articles over the last few years, and quotes from law school faculty and administrators to demonstrate the widespread consensus that schools are engaged in unfair and misleading practices. You can check out the complaint for yourself here. The complaint was filed by lead plaintiff Anna Alaburda, a 2008 honors graduate of TJSL. Additional court documents are attached to this post.

This lawsuit is of historical significance. It is the latest example of the breaking trust relationship between law schools and their students, their graduates, and the profession. Law schools have a duty to be honest and ethical in their reporting and presentation of employment data. This lawsuit shows that at least some members of the profession believe these duties are legal requirements, in addition to being merely professional or educational in nature. Perhaps importantly for some critics, Ms. Alaburda decided to attend law school before the legal market collapsed and before stories of misleading information were widespread.

Current Employment Information

As of today, TJSL is still providing misleading employment information (the “TJSL Report”) on its website for the Class of 2009. Compounding the problem, TJSL has thus far declined to report any Class of 2010 information on its website, despite already collecting sufficient employment data about the class when they reported to NALP back in March of this year. Almost every law school could do a much better job educating prospective students about the nature of the jobs obtained by their graduates; TJSL is no different. The most serious fault we find with the TJSL Report is how the school misrepresents starting salaries.

The underlying data match for the TJSL Report and U.S. News-provided information

The TJSL Report claims that the school collected at least some data from 86% of graduates (respectable, though still putting them in the bottom 5% of all law schools), and that of those graduates 84.7% were employed. This means that 72.8% of Class of 2009 graduates were known to be employed, which is the same as what the career services office reported to U.S. News. Likewise, both sources indicate that 80% of the graduates known to be employed were employed in the private sector, i.e. working for law firms or in business & industry in some (any) capacity. This data match makes it possible for us to examine TJSL’s advertised placement success with the more detailed reporting rates submitted to U.S. News.

TJSL Salaries

Based on our calculations from the data submitted to U.S. News, only 17% of those working full time in the private sector reported a salary. This means that at most 22 graduates reported salary data for full-time, private-sector jobs to TJSL. (This puts TJSL in the bottom 10% of law schools by percentage reporting.)

We say “at most” because the U.S. News salary figures only include full-time jobs. Only about half of TJSL graduates had full-time jobs for the Class of 2009. Some of these were likely with law firms and in business, but probably not all of them. The only thing we gain from the information provided on the TJSL Report is that at least five salaries underly the average salary figures for law firm practice ($62,443) and for Business jobs ($90,267). Based on the other data, the average figures probably each only use data for a few more graduates than the minimum five. As such, the $90,267 and $62,443 average salaries are each based on data for between 2-8% of the entire class (for a total not to exceed 10%).

The substance of these salary averages is not apparent from TJSL’s Report or website. In fact, the picture which the published averages present is of a magnitude far more appealing than reality. The business salary average is significantly higher than the California mean salary, $83,977, for the business category according to NALP.

For law firm jobs, the problem is a little different. While the national mean salary for law firms is $115,254, that average is misleading on its face because 40% of the salaries used to calculate the average were $160,000 and 5% were $145,000. If we factor these salaries – the salaries most likely to be reported – out of the average, the average reduces to $80,007.

Although this average still likely skews high, the effect of large firm salaries on the adapted average is apparent. Those with higher salaries are far more likely to report. These salaries are also usually publicly known, thus the graduates do not need to report their salary to be included in these averages since schools can report any salaries they have reason to believe are accurate. This adjustment is not only common at law schools, but encouraged by NALP. As the TJSL Report states, “Our annual employment statistics are compiled in accordance with the [sic] NALP’s Employment Report and Salary Survey.”

The main point here is that the average salary reported in the TJSL Report skews high without context: no salary ranges, percentiles, or observational data besides the five-graduate floor has been provided. TJSL could, if it wanted, provide the following chart as specific context. This information, specific to graduates from all NALP-reporting graduates working in California, comes from NALP’s Class of 2009 Jobs & JDs. TJSL receives a copy of this report, since it is an active participant in NALP’s research. Our example uses all California salary information because 83% of TJSL’s graduates known to be employed were employed in California.

TJSL Data California Salary Data (All Grads)
Firm Type # Grads 25th Median 75th Middle 90% Avg.
2-10 Attys. 36 $52,000 $62,400 $72,000 $36,000 – $100,000 $63,526
11-25 Attys. 2 $60,000 $70,000 $80,000 $45,000 – $135,000 $77,096
26-50 Attys. 3 $70,000 $78,000 $95,000 $50,000 – $130,000 $83,152
51-100 Attys. 4 $79,000 $90,000 $135,000 $62,500 – $160,000 $105,449
101-250 Attys. 2 $100,000 $145,000 $160,000 $85,000 – $160,000 $135,171
251+ Attys. 7 $160,000 $160,000 $160,000 $140,000 – $160,000 $156,904

The total number of TJSL graduates in each category indicates that the salaries TJSL used to calulate its published average firm salary skews even higher than normal. If between 5 and 17 graduates reported a law firm salary, at least some were from jobs paying six figures. But it’s difficult to know how many of those were six-figure jobs because the employer category includes non-attorneys making significantly less than attorneys with the same employer. Of course, prospective law students could know all of this if the school had decided to tell them.

Overall, it is easy to see why a prospective TJSL student today would be misled into thinking that a $200,000 investment in the TJSL degree is worth it. It remains to be seen whether our analysis holds for previous years, as well as whether what we consider misleading is sufficiently fraudulent, misrepresentative, or unfair according to a Cali state court.

TJSL is not alone

Countless other law schools across the country engage in similarly misleading practices, making them equally at risk of facing a class action. Every law school has the opportunity to provide better information and better context for that information. Some schools are proactively reforming how they present employment data, but many more have not yet felt compelled to change their behavior. Lawsuits like this will make law schools quickly rethink how they promote their programs.

Complaint Summary

Anna Alaburda is suing Thomas Jefferson School of Law (TJSL) of San Diego, California. She alleges five causes of action in the Superior Court or the State of California for the County of San Diego. This class action suit was filed on May 26, 2011 by the class attorneys, Brian Procel and Vinay Kohli from Miller Barondess, LLP. TJSL has 30 calendar days to respond. The case number is 37-2011-00091898-CU-FR-CTL.

Notable Quotes

  • “For more than 15 years, TJSL has churned out law school graduates, many of whom have little or no hope of working as attorneys at any point in their careers.”
  • “TJSL’s average student indebtedness, more than $135,000, is among the highest in the nation. And its bar passage is consistently lower than 50 percent, well below the average in California.”
  • “[D]uring a deep economic recession affecting the legal industry on a widespread basis, TJSL reports that the median salary of its graduates has remained constant between 2006 and 2011 (even though the average salary of attorneys nationwide has seen a dramatic decline in recent years).”
  • “Prospective students are led to believe that they will be hired as full time attorneys when they graduate, even though that is frequently not the case.”
  • “Plaintiff has been unable to secure a full time job as an attorney that pays more than non-legal jobs that are available to her, even though she graduated with honors from TJSL. Plaintiff would not have attended TJSL and incurred more than $150,000 in school loans if she knew the truth about her job prospects upon graduation.”
  • “At the end of the day, TJSL is more concerned with raking in millions of dollars in tuition and fees than educating and training its students. The disservice TJSL is doing to its students and society generally is readily apparent. Many TJSL graduates will never be offered work as attorneys or otherwise be in a position to profit from their law school education. And they will be forced to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars in school loans that are nearly impossible to discharge, even in bankruptcy.”
  • “Richard Matasar, Dean of New York Law School, assailed law schools for ‘exploiting’ students by taking their money knowing that the odds of obtaining a high-paying job in the legal field is a ‘lottery shot.'”
  • “Notwithstanding the economic recession that has crippled the job market for lawyers in the past years, TJSL has embarked on a campaign to expand its student body. Within the last three years (in the middle of the recession), TJSL increased its enrollment by 17 percent, with more than 680 students enrolled in 2011 (up from 580 students in 2008).”

COA #1: Unfair Business Practices

Business & Professions Code § 17200 et seq.

The Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”) prohibits “unfair competition,” which is defined by Business and Professions Code section 17200 as including “any unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business act or practice. . . .” . . .

The material misrepresentations and acts of concealment by TJSL are unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices prohibited by the UCL.

The harm to Plaintiff and the Class outweighs the utility of TJSL’s practices.

TJSL’s deceptive conduct has misled the public in the past and will continue to mislead the public in the future. TJSL’s practices constitute a fraudulent business practice within the meaning of the UCL.

COA #2: Violation of the False Advertising Act

Business & Professions Code § 17500 et seq.

The False Advertising Act makes it is unlawful to “make or disseminate or cause to be made or disseminated before the public [a statement] which is untrue or misleading, and which is known, or which by the exercise of reasonable care should be known, to be untrue or misleading” with the intent to “induce the public to enter into any obligation relating thereto.” Such statements include statements made through “any advertising device,” including “over the Internet.”

. . .

TJSL violated Business & Professions Code section 17500 et seq. by making or disseminating or causing to be made or disseminated false and misleading statements in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Graduate Schools” publication, on its website, and in its marketing brochures. These misleading statements concerned post-graduation employment statistics, among others. These false and misleading statements were made with the intent to induce the general public, including Plaintiff and the Class, to enroll at TJSL.

COA #3: Intentional Fraud

As part of its fraudulent marketing program, TJSL engaged in a pattern and practice of knowingly and intentionally making numerous false representations of material fact, and material omissions, with the intent to deceive and/or induce reliance by Plaintiff and the Class.

Plaintiff and the Class did in fact justifiably rely on these misrepresentations and omissions, resulting in substantial damage to Plaintiff and the Class. Specifically, Plaintiff reviewed and relied on the post-graduation employment statistics reflected in the 2003 U.S. News & World Report “Best Graduate Schools” edition, among others, before deciding to enroll at TJSL. Plaintiff relied on subsequent editions of U.S. News & World Report “Best Graduate Schools” in deciding to continue with her studies at TJSL.

TJSL induced Plaintiff and the Class to enroll at TJSL by making one or more, or in many cases all, of the following false and fraudulent misrepresentations of fact to Plaintiff and the Class:

 (a) that between 72 and 92 percent of TJSL graduates would find work as full time attorneys; and
 (b) that between 72 and 92 percent of TJSL graduates would find work in the legal industry.

TJSL also induced Plaintiff and the Class to enroll by making the following uniform false and fraudulent misrepresentations regarding its employment statistics to U.S. World News & Report, knowing that U.S. World News & Report would repeat the false and misleading information and that Plaintiff and the Class would rely on and act on it:

 (a) in the 2003 edition of U.S. World News & Report, 80.1 percent of TJSL students were also employed within nine months of graduation;
 (b) in the 2004 edition of U.S. World News & Report, 80.1 percent of TJSL students were employed within nine months of graduation;
 (c) in the 2005 edition of U.S. World News & Report, 56.4 percent of TJSL students were employed within nine months of graduation;
 (d) in the 2006 edition of U.S. World News & Report, 77.0 percent of TJSL students were employed within nine months of graduation;
 (e) in the 2007 edition of U.S. World News & Report, 82.9 percent of TJSL students were employed within nine months of graduation;
 (f) in the 2008 edition of U.S. World News & Report, 64.7 percent of TJSL students were employed within nine months of graduation; and
 (g) in the 2009 edition of U.S. World News & Report, 80.0 percent of TJSL students were employed within nine months of graduation;
 (h) in the 2010 edition of U.S. World News & Report, 86.7 percent of TJSL students were employed within nine months of graduation;
 (i) in the 2011 edition of U.S. World News & Report, 92.1 percent of TJSL students were employed within nine months of graduation; and
 (j) in the 2012 edition of U.S. World News & Report, 72.7 percent of TJSL students were employed within nine months of graduation.

Plaintiff reasonably relied on the 2003 edition of U.S. World News & World Report “Best Graduates Schools,” among others, in deciding whether to enroll at TJSL.

In addition, Plaintiff and the Class have reasonably relied on consumer information located on TJSL’s school website, including, but not limited to the following representation made by TJSL:

 (a) 86.4 percent of law students from TJSL’s Class of 2008 are employed;
 (b) 84.7 percent of law students from TJSL’s Class of 2009 are employed; and
 (c) Although TJSL’s website currently contains information for 2008 and 2009 exclusively, the website contained similarly false and inaccurate information in previous years as well.

Plaintiff continued to rely on subsequent editions of U.S. News & World Report “Best Graduate Schools” in deciding to continue with her studies at TJSL, including those specified in [the] Paragraph [], above.

The foregoing statistics were false, misleading, and intentionally designed to deceive all who read them.

The representations set forth above were part of a common scheme or plan and pattern or practice conceived and executed by TJSL over the course of the entire statutory period.

TJSL knew that these misrepresentations were false when made, and made them with the intent to induce Plaintiffs and the Class to rely upon them.

In addition, TJSL occupied a fiduciary position as educators, and owed a heightened duty to Plaintiffs and the Class to act in good faith and with full candor and honesty. Plaintiff is also informed and believes that many of the staff and faculty members of TJSL are attorneys and/or members of the California State Bar and therefore have ethical responsibilities as to students at TJSL. TJSL breached these fiduciary duties and duties of good faith, candor, and disclosure by omitting to disclose material facts alleged above to Plaintiff and the Class.

Plaintiff and the Class were, at all relevant times, ignorant of the true facts. Plaintiff and the Class only discovered that TJSL had a policy and practice of misrepresenting its post-graduation employment statistics on or after January 2011 when the New York Times published an article disclosing TJSL’s fraudulent practices.

COA #4: Violation of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act

California Civil Code § 1750 et seq.,

Plaintiff is entitled to enjoin TJSL’s wrongful practices by reason of TJSL’s unlawful, unfair, and/or deceptive acts and practices.

The Consumer Legal Remedies Act prohibits unfair methods of competition and unfair or deceptive acts or practices undertaken by any person in a transaction intended to result or which results in the sale of goods and services.

TJSL violated the Consumer Legal Remedies Act by misrepresenting to Plaintiff and members of the Class TJSL’s post-graduation employment rates.

COA #5: Negligent Misrepresentation

TJSL made uniform and identical material written representations regarding students’ post-graduation employment rates. TJSL also omitted to disclose the material facts alleged herein. When TJSL made these representations and omissions, TJSL had no reasonable grounds for believing them to be true.

Relief Sought

  • Compensatory damages believed to be in excess of $50,000,000.
  • Restitution believed to be in excess of $50,000,000.
  • Disgorgement of all profits obtained by TJSL as a result of its unfair and fraudulant practices.
  • Punitive damages.
  • Injunctive relief to enjoin TJSL from continuing its unlawful practices.
  • Attorneys’ fees.
  • Prejudgment interest.

79 thoughts on “Breaking: Class Action Suit Filed Against Thomas Jefferson School of Law”

  1. P.S. THIS IS ONE OF THOSE, EVEN IF YOU LOSE WE ALL WIN, PRINCIPLED LAWSUITS. THANKS FOR STICKING YOUR NECK OUT FOR US.

  2. As a May 2010 TJSL graduate with a current student loan balance of $222,597.83 and who has yet to pass the bar or find a job I salute you Anna. Pro Jo’s not gonna like this.

  3. Way to keep it classy fellow TJSL’ers.

    Throwing your moronic comments on this article makes the school look even worse.

  4. The New York times ran an article that Thomas Jefferson school of law lied about it’s employment numbers, and counted graduating students who did not respond to the survey as being employed as part of its employment statistics it sent to the ABA.

    And TJSL’s Admissions Dean Beth Kransberger’s only response to these accusations was “This was done in accordance with the rules by the ABA”

    Plummeting Bar passage rates, and negative media attention equals loss of ABA accreditation soon for Thomas Jefferson school of law.

  5. Sounds to me like the plaintiff is blaming her inability to find a job on TJSL. I just graduated from TJSL, did not graduate with honors, and found a full-time attorney job. Hit the pavement and stop blaming others.

  6. The TJSL class action lawsuit is the first of many to come. Many law schools even in the first tier are engaging in this type of fraud.

  7. I think it’s brilliant! I mean she won’t win but this lawsuit will bring attention to the growing problem -for the majority of people, law school really isn’t the investment it use to be…YAY for the college grad who sees this article or hears about the suit and decides NOT to go to law school!!

  8. Who cares if you were able to find a full-time attorney job. The bottom line is TJSL allegedly provided false and or otherwise misleading information to induce people to apply there.

  9. It doesn’t matter the reason why she brought the lawsuit. The lawsuit deals with allegations of Fraud and misrepresentation.

    And it doesn’t matter if she wins either, the importance of her lawsuit is the DISCOVERY aspect involved where information about TJSL’s practices come out.

  10. There are no innocent parties involved. If the school did misrepresent their statistics, then they should be held accountable to the same extent Villanova law was earlier this year. If a student enters into law school, graduates in a position that leaves them more than unattractive to employers, then expects a key to a corner office at DLA Piper, then they too should be held accountable for their unreasonable and misguided reliance. All recent graduates of all law schools have had an increasingly difficult time finding employment. But it is an attorney’s personal responsibility to be the most attractive candidate possible. From talking to friends at other schools, TJ’s internship program is exceedingly better than theirs. Intern more while in school. Improve your grades. Then if you still can’t get hired post bar, use the practical skills you learned in your internships to practice on you own. This claim has unfortunately overshadowed a more important point, there is no golden ticket. Your ability to succeed is directly correlated to your hard work in and out of school. The sooner my fellow alum, who blame their unfortunate woes on their school, come to that realization, the better off we’ll all be.

  11. TJSL operates like a business and does not care about the welfare of its students at all. The school only cares about making money, and it is apparent when dealing with the administrative staff. i’m glad this is happening.

  12. I certainly hope the lawyers retained aren’t working on a contingent fee basis. This suit isn’t going to make it past the 12(b)(6) stage.

  13. I Know a few students from the class of 2010 and I SO AGREE!!! One inpraticular owes over 200,000 in tuituion fees,checks on jobs everyday,passed with honors,aced the bar AND STILL can not be properly employeed. At this time is STILL unemployeed and is in jeopardy of loosing his bar if his student loans are getting paid. I feel for a school to misrepresent itself is a travisty!!!!
    I think you should engage with some of the other graduates of the last three years and fight this school!!!!
    I wish you the best of luck!!! DON’T GIVE UP!!! G.F.

  14. When choosing between law schools I saw in a property class at TJSL. EVERY student was on Facebook during lecture, and about 70% didn’t do the reading required for the class. I’m guessing that’s whey these guys don’t have a job. Also, as for the P graduating with honors, that’s not really an achievement if everyone else in the class is on FB and doesn’t study.

  15. @ comment 8, I totally agree.

    This woman is a joke. She should spent her time looking for employment
    not filing silly lawsuits.

    To all the TJSL bashers, your ignorance is disgusting. Act like you
    have half a brain and stop generalizing groups of people based on the
    actions of a few.

    I’m a TJ alum, finished in 2.5 years, no honors, passed the bar my
    first try. Worked as a clerk while studying for the bar and was
    offered an associate position the day after I received my results. In
    case you were wondering, I’m doing just fine.

    What’s the secret? Simple. I’m a professional. I don’t whine and make
    excuses. I get $h:t done. To my employer, I’m irreplaceable. I didn’t
    need a fancy brand name school on my resume to obtain this respect, I
    earned it through the quality of my work. I think this woman should
    try to do the same.

    Cheers!

  16. Again, what is the relevance of some of these success stories out of TJSofL? According to the complaint, the school grossly overcounted the number of those “success stories” as alums (and their salaries), advertised that data to the public, and induced people to apply and spend over $200,000 in student loans. Sorry …. that’s against the law.

  17. First off relevance is not spelled “relavence”. And once again it doesn’t matter the reason why the Plaintiff filed the lawsuit. 1) it is a class action lawsuit and 2) misrepresentation and fraud is not excusable as a DEFENSE by Thomas Jefferson law just because “other schools do it”

  18. we have affirmative action for black people so why not affirmative action for lazy people. Oxymoron? You know what I am saying.

    Pretty soon we will all fit in a class that no one will want to touch and we will all be on the gvt dole. Obamas wet dream.

  19. @23 …. exactly correct. Amazing how some people justify a business allegedly committing fraud and misrepresentation. If the complaint is correct, TJSoL committed misrepresentation and fraud by putting those “employment” numbers out there to induce members of the public to attend.

    So are there just a lot more lazy grads of TJSoL out there who simply don’t want to be employed … or did the downturn in the economy have something to do with the numerous unemployed law grads out there (that TJSoL did not report anyway re: its own grads)?

  20. To those of you with success stories out of TJSL, would you have decided to attend TJSL had they listed in their prospectus materials and website that their bar passage rate is less than 50% or that their true employment statistics are … whatever they actually are? It’s great that you’ve been successful, however how many similar success stories do you think there were in your graduating class. Some. Not a lot though. How big would your graduating class have been had the school be up front about the realities of the market after getting a degree from TJSL.

    No one who knows anything about the situation is signaling out TJSL (well besides the named plaintiff). EVERY law school does this. It’s a major issue. Does anyone really think that Duke actually had a 100% employment rate two years ago? Absolutely no one thinks that is accurate, yet they had the balls to put it out there. It’s absurd. Unfortunately, this type of lawsuit can only realistically be brought against schools like TJSL, because Duke is Duke and can get away with shit so long as it is still placing a large percentage of it’s class in jobs.

  21. Class of 09 grad, first time bar passer. Didn’t get a full time legal job until dec 2010. 19 months after graduation. My 2010 tax returns show I made 8k so I wonder if my numbers were used to calculate the average earnings for the class of 09. Yeah right! Fuck these lying charlatans. I hope they get slapped with the fraud count with punitives in the 100s of millions thereby shitting down this cesspool. I know too many people that are drowning in debt as a result of this fraudulent institution.

  22. I wouldn’t have gone to TJ if I had known there were so many graduates who were complete and utter morons. (see 85% of these comments for reference)

  23. Wow! The lead plaintiff sound like a moron.

    TJSL did not guaranteed you a job when you graduated. I really don’t care if you graduated with honors too. The name of the game is, “what did you do during your times in law school?” … Did you focus on studying for school or did you focus on attending every local bar?

    Law School is a professional school. You’re not in undergraduate school anymore. Professional schools are not there to babysit you. If you spend your times on facebook all day long then that is your prerogative. Your effort during law school will be exposed and that’s why the 85% is there for a reason and … that’s why you belong in that 15% my friend.

  24. I agree with Guest #31. Many law students are enamored with the dollar signs. Students think that just because they got accepted into law school, their hard work is over and they are entitled to a law job.

    Open your eyes and check out the current state of our economy! If you want that law job, you have to put yourself in the best possible position to get one. There are no entitlement! That 85% job rate does not correlated with an entitlement. Those students who saw it as an entitlements are the ones who are sitting in the 15% range.

    You have to work hard for it. Students should work hard starting with the first day of school; not the day after graduation from law school. Working hard during law school does not guaranteed a job either … not in this or in any other economy

  25. What does the sense “or lack thereof” of entitlement by students have to do with TJSoL allgedly putting out false employment numbers to induce members of the public to attend?

    So are you saying the reason why the employment numbers are much worse now for TJSoL grads is because a much greater percentage of them have become lazy? Why didn’t TJSoL allegedly not be honest with the employment numbers re: its alums to reflect the state of the economy? If I knew a law school like TJSoL allegedly produced a great number of alums who were lazy … I’d give my decision to apply there second thought.

  26. Hopefully the plaintiff isn’t rep’ing herself, not only would she have a fool for a client, but she’d blow her claim to not have found a lucrative law job! I sincerely hope this case pays out big for her, it’s time law schools come clean.

  27. @27

    “Does anyone really think that Duke actually had a 100% employment rate two years ago? Absolutely no one thinks that is accurate, yet they had the balls to put it out there. It’s absurd.”

    Watch it, you’re blowing their “reasonable reliance” claim there dude.

  28. All of these people focussing on blaming the plaintiff are idiots. The bottom line is that for every full-time attorney position that opens up today, roughly three law school graduates are applying for it. Theoretically, if every student currently in law school studied 15 hours a day and thought of nothing but the law, there still wouldn’t be enough full-time attorney positions to go around for most of them. We’re currently going through the worst economy since the Great Depression. If you were lucky enough to get into this profession 5+ years ago, congrats. You’re very lucky. However, not everyone is in such an envious position. I’m in the top third of my class at a top 6 law school (either Columbia, NYU, or Chicago) and am hustling like crazy to line something up for after graduation. I’m not just talking about Biglaw; I’m talking about ANYTHING that will let me get my hands wet and give me experience working as an attorney. To say that I would have had to hustle 5+ years ago is, well, completely absurd. Face it, things are different now. Many (most?) who succeeded in getting into the profession 5+ years ago would not have succeeded were they graduating today. So, STFU, and stop blaming the plaintiff and current law school students/recent grads for being lazy or entitled. Students around the country are taking on $100,000+ in debt largely because law schools put out ridiculously rigged employment statistics that make it sound like these students will be able to pay off their debt via post-graduate employment. The saddest part of all of this is that most of these students really are just trying to better themselves and join in America’s workforce, even if some of them are a bit misguided.

  29. Hear, hear #38. This exploitation of law students’ hopes and dreams is flat-out predatory lending, made worse by a bad economy and too many lawyers chasing too few jobs. As the New York Times article points out, the situation will improve when 4th-tier JD factories like TJSL close theirs doors.

  30. @31 and 32

    These have to be law school admins. The claim isn’t that law school “guarantees a job” morons. It’s called unfair business practices and deceptive advertising (amongst on whole host of other deplorable behavior.) Go shill somewhere else

  31. As a young attorney who defends 17200 and 17500 claims in California, I have been wondering when one of this deplorable California law schools would get sued. Plaintiffs have a very good chance and I would imagine if the law schools lose the class cert battle, their attorneys will look to settle quickly.

  32. What if the P’s do win, thanks for F**kin us current students up with increased tuition rates!!

    And I’m sorry, many of us attend TJSL because we couldn’t get into any top 150 law school, so we no the deal. There’s not going to be an ER waiting for you when done unless you did well earlier on to score an internship.

  33. how do i join the class action? i filed a lawsuit of my own in which the same school has until june 24th to submit their answer.

  34. This is the message from the school lawyer:

    Dear All,

    As many of you have read, the school has been sued by one of its 2008 graduates, Anna Alaburda. Anna alleges that statistical information given by the school to the American Bar Association regarding employment is false and misleading and that it falsely induced her to go to law school. She is working as a lawyer but alleges she is unable to find a legal position that pays as much as a non-legal position.

    This school reports employment statistics in the same manner as most law schools, using standards and directions set forth by the ABA. We do not know Anna’s expectations when she started law school. We do know she graduated and passed the bar the first time for which the school deserves some credit. This is a difficult economy for all professions, including the legal profession. Even assuming Anna is unable to find the legal job she would like, we do not believe it justifies her demand that the school be punished. This is simply a case about the frustrations of a bad economy.

    We have tendered the defense of the case to our insurance carrier and intend to fight this suit vigorously. We are confident that our alums will support the school in the defense of this case.

    Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

    Jeffrey A. Joseph

    Associate Dean and General Counsel

    Thomas Jefferson School of Law

    1155 Island Avenue

    San Diego, CA

    Phone: (619) 297-9700 ext 4240; (619) 961-4240 (Direct Line)

    Fax: (619) 961-1240

    ___________________

  35. So should TJSL get some credit for the other 50% of the students who failed the CA Bar test and those who couldn’t find a job too?

  36. The new bubble. Loans and Law Schools. I love it! It’s about damn time. Let the wave of lawsuits begin–and don’t forget to add those student loan lenders as necessary parties? And then the Law Profs at Emory and everywhere else can join the rest of us in “sucking it up” and “getting used to” having to WORK for a living in the harsh and unforgiving private sector.

  37. Mr. Joseph:

    I wouldn’t be so confident that your alums are going to give you the support you’re looking for. Although not legally or factually analogous, it still kind of reminds me of that Key Bank lawsuit with that defrocked helicopter school, i.e. overpriced schools promising too much, like every time I see a Devry commercial with some poor 40 something trying to reinvent themselves in a crappy economy using $140,000 of borrowed money that everyone knows they’ll never be able to pay back. Give us a break. TJ is part of the problem, and so are you.

  38. Why does Mr. Joseph have confidence that alums will support the school’s defense? I am a graduate of the school, and I plan to join the class if it is certified. If it is not certified, I will simply file my own action.

  39. Sure there are some successful and/or wealthy TJSL alumni who are donors to the school and will rise to its defense. Way more typical are the pissed-off grads who started out as 1Ls oversold on the school’s promises, who then became disgruntled 2Ls. By graduation time their alienation was complete. TJSL is reaping what it has sown.

  40. Everyone’s comments are very interesting. In today’s job market, particularly for law students, it is absolutely critical to have a joint partnership with their law school in which their career services center develop networks with hiring corporations, i.e., TJSL does a poor job in this areas; and yes, their JD students are not the most desired academically or professionally, but the TJSL graduate students is where the talent is being hidden.

    One should remember, the quality of the law student is dependent on the quality of the law school. Not defend the allegations against TJSL, I have found that TJSL is doing most everything on spot, i.e., it has 50% of their faculty from Harvard Law School, they have global PhD scholars, branding a new school, building a strong reputation, and their graduate students pursuing JSD (PhD), LL.M, and JSM professional degrees all have an unique set of elite characteristics coming from across the globe.

  41. Come on–anyone any San Diego knows that TJSL sucks and won;t help you get a job. She cannot have really been misled when this is common knowledge. I call BS.

  42. Nice job with this! We will be sharing it with our online community!
    -DEFAULT: The Student Loan Documentary

  43. How about all the TJSL grads that succeeded in finding jobs (by the way, how long did that take you?) can opt out and the rest of us will get our money back and go on with our lives.

  44. This isn’t simply a case about the frustrations of a bad economy, it’s a case about being ripped off and lied too. Seriously, how does this bottom tier law school get away with saddling its graduates with the highest debt load in the nation? This is sick. I hope she wins.

  45. In 1972 I was rejected by several law schools. I applied to Western State University, TJSL’s predecessor, and was admitted. I graduated in December 1975, passed the February 1976 bar exam, and practiced law until 2003 when I retired. I remain an active member of the California bar, the Southern District United States bar, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals bar. I was taught by practicing lawyers and Judges, such as Judge Earl Gilliam. TJSL has a rich history of educating a large number of San Diego lawyers and Judges. No one promised full employment, except the various Presidential candidates. Grow up.

  46. @59: Unlike you, TJSL hasn’t kept up with the times. I dare say the job market for lawyers was very different in the 70’s. It’s not an issue of broken promises. We grown-ups know there are no guarantees in life. It’s an issue of misrepresenting the product through false advertising and misleading consumer information in the effort to raise enrollments.

  47. Let’s see a copy of this resume she sent out 150 times or a copy of her academic transcript. I am curious if her honors are from pro bono honors and what types of intern or externships she participated in if any. Forget about the claim which may or may not have merit – I just want to know how much of her plight may have been brought on herself before she feels entitled to claim that it’s really TJSL that failed her and not herself.

  48. #59, times have changed. Were you coming out of TJSL today, you almost certainly wouldn’t have gone on to have the career that you had. Basically, tuition went WAY up, government grants went down, and the number of new jobs for students went way down.

  49. I, for one, could not be more excited about this suit and the potential reforms it could spur.

    This is not about a “golden ticket” job promised to Anna by TJSL Applying an entitlement argument to the case is almost funny – anyone who has practiced law for more than five minutes will tell you there are NO cake walk jobs out there. Lawyering requires long hours, mental agility, dedication, and focus. It requires missing time with family and friends, especially during the critical bar study period. All any law student wants is to work as a productive member of society – a hard working person asking for an opportunity to work hard – and feeling “entitled” to toil away – I have to laugh.

    That being said, the case is not about getting a particular job, or making a particular amount of money – the case is about risk assessment, as done BY THE LAW APPLICANT using (1) the cost of tuition and (2) the POSSIBILITY of post-grad employment. The law school applicant bears the ultimate burden to make that risk assessment. The law school bears the ultimate burden to provide the applicant with information that the student has no other means to obtain, namely figures on the true POSSIBILITY of post-grad employment. And, according to Anna’s suit, the law school failed to meet its burden, which put her in a position where she could not perform proper risk assessment. Whether she now has a job picking berries or picking her nose on the couch is absolutely irrelevant to anything except her damages, which must be pled in the complaint to withstand demurrer. I highly doubt there are many among us who wish to have our unemployment made part of the public records forever (and ever).

    If you made it, pat yourself on the back. If you didn’t yet, best of luck to you. This is an exciting suit no matter which side you’re on, and I for one can’t wait to see what happens.

  50. No wonder none of you can find a job!!

    I graduated from TJSL in 2.5 years (went to school at nights, went to class during the day, and interned at least 2-3 days a week all through law school).

    I worked for 6 different lawfirms in San Diego and learned how to be a lawyer. I was offered a few low paying jobs as a lawyer from these internships (because I had no experience being a lawyer), howeveer I chose to strike it out on my own and open my own small practice.

    I incurred $150,000 in student loans and have since paid them all back in less than 3 years. I think this Plaintiff needs to open her eyes to reality. “SHE HAS A BAR CARD,” which allows her to charge $300/hour for anything from drafting a contract to suing an unsurance company for an client’s auto accident.

    I will agree that the entire law school system in this country is too focused on theory and does not focus enough on the actual practice of law. However, it is very clear, a law license allows you to literally put an ad on craigslist for Bankruptcy Services, meet the prospective client at your satellite office ($150/month rent), and do 3-4 hours of work and get paid $1500. It allows you to take on a case where someone was rear-ended and write one letter to the insurance company and get paid 33% of a $10,000 settlement.

    There is no golden ticket and there is no easy $100,000 year job waitig for you (because in order to be worth $100k/year, you need to make your boss more than $100k, which the lady obviously has not ability to do), however what TJSL did give these whiney unemployed useless graduates was a license to charge $300/hr. to provide pretty much any service to anyone. This alleged victim’s only problem is that this useless graduate would have had to work and possess the ability to actually help someone by practicing law, which she obviously cannot do.

    My 6th sense sees a successful demurrer in this lady’s future.

    Thomas Jefferson School of Law gave you a license….why don’t you go try to use it instead of asking for a hand out?!

  51. All 4 tier schools like Thomas Jefferson, Western, Whittier and Phoenix should get shut down, but most importantly people need to do their research and not attend these schools in the first place. The plaintiff is an idiot for blindly taking the information she was given as fact, but regardless I hope she wins so schools like Thomas Jefferson go out of business!

  52. Those who incurr more than $130k in debt and then cannot locate a job have burdened themselves with their own problem and need to learn a bit about responsability and take care of it themselves. No free passes! Perhaps the mentality of these graduates contribute to their unemployment! A position will not walk into your livingroom and greet you, one must go out and seek it aggressively! That is why some succeed and others fail.

  53. The legal profession unlike the medical profession is not regulated and it shows. Thomas Jefferson and schools like it need to shut down.

  54. ’07 alum here and I support this suit. I just found employment in March of 2010. It’s not in the legal field and starting pay was about $28k/year. Which I believe is closer to the average than 90k, given their reputation and bar pass rates.

    But the deceptive practices by TJ go even deeper than false employment/income/pass rate numbers.

    They also have an LSAT scholarship to lure people in.

    I was induced by numbers and the scholarship designed to recruit low income people.

    The LSAT number that triggers scholarship is so low that even a person in their first two years of college could obtain. I believe it starts at 155?

    What they didn’t tell me until I got there, was how to keep the scholarship.

    To keep the scholarship, one had to be in the top 10 percentile of the class. But they limit that percentile by their grading structure.

    Out of 40 students in a class, only 2 were going to get an A, 2 would get an A-, 3 each for B+, B and B-. The rest would get the C range. With the bottom 10% getting a D. They don’t give F’s.

    You need the A (not A-) in 4 out of 5 classes to keep your scholarship.

    Out of those 40 students, at least 35 entered with that scholarship.

    This means that when a professor is grading her test (Love you Cromer), the first two people who she feels get an A, get the A. The next two she like get the A-, and so on.

    This is the bottom line: On top of the false numbers reported, the scholarship used to defray costs is impossible for all to keep because it is mathematically impossible for everyone who entered on the scholarship to keep their scholarship based on their grading structure.

    I want in on this suit as well because this “college” is no better than the Silicon Valley International “colleges” that crank out F1’s for a shell Indian company to hire H1B’s and buy green cards.

    And to the alums supporting TJ, good for you. If you disapprove of how the rest of us are writing, blame your Alma Mater because they advertise having one of the top writing programs in the nation as well.

  55. I graduated from TJLS when it was Western State Univ in 1979 in the top, ahem, 90% of my class after flunking out of another law school, took the bar 4 times, and when I went out on the street with my license was 37, no credit, no home, a shitty car, not a victim, and no money. And oh, yeah, going thru a disso.

    I never even thought about trying to get a job, just hung out my shingle in old Chula Vista and joined everything I could, worked my buns off, worked the bars, swept my own office, did my own copying, and when a female was in my office and the phone rang asked her to answer “Law office” so the caller would think I had a secretary.

    Now, 30 years later, I am ready to law my burden down after a happy and successful career as a sole practicioner. Wake Up, liberals, nobody owes you squat. Nobody but an idiot would think that a law school, beauty college or bcome-a-detective matchbook cover school is going to guarantee you jack. Quit yr whining and get a life.

  56. I don’t believe you’re a graduate of any law school commenter #73.

    I also believe that not only have you not practiced for 30 years, you are actually under the age of 35.

    You may be posting a story you once heard about someone who is over the age of 50. Possibly a parent or Aunt/Uncle. But more likely, you posted a completely made up story because of your disliking the topic at hand.

    No self respecting attorney would disregard spell check the way you have. No self respecting attorney over the age of 35 would ever write ‘yr’ or ‘get a life’.

    In fact, 30 years ago, no office as poor as you claimed to have been would have had a copy machine in their office. They would have only been in large firms or corporate offices due to their prohibitive cost.

    But there is one part of your story I believe.

    And that part is where you swept the floors.

  57. Ok folks. I feel the utmost urge to chime in after reading all of this. I am a ’05 alumnus of TJSL. I graduated in the top 15% of my class, passed the Bar on the first try and immediately landed a job. I’ve been with the same small firm all along and make a very, very nice 6 figure salary. I also have a large debt, but it has worked out. If you are smart enough to go to law school, you are smart enough to conduct some research into the profession and know that a JD is not a guarantee of riches. Some of my richest friends did not make it through college and some of my poorest are the most educated. It happens in every industry. Its time to stop blaming the school and start taking some personal ownership in your future. Im not implying that getting a job is easy, but a lot of it comes down to the individual person, not the school. Just my two cents.

  58. The lack of intelligence and compassion in these comments is astounding. I graduated from a poorly-rated law school (NYLS) in 92, during a recession. If 10% of my class graduated with a job it was a lot – and out of those that did have one, most were not earning Big Firm money. During school I hustled with jobs that paid (editing law school text books) and those that were resume builders (interned at AMEX, the UN, and for a Second Circuit judge) every semester (usually two or three at a time). I did not graduate with a job right out of school. I took advantage of EVERY opportunity presented to me and eventually wound up in a top 5 law firm, then went in-house at an investment bank, where I am GC for the US, Europe and Asia. None of this is attributable NYLS. They absolutely midlead incoming students as to placement figures, including myself. To me not a big deal as at the time, the downside was low ($9K per year for tuition) which has risen in less than 20 years to $50K). Law schools generally could care less about its student body as long as the tuition is paid – and the gov’t provides student loans. I wish these plaintiffs all the best…the job of establishments of education is just that to “educate”. There is nowhere that education is as expensive as it is in the US – higher education should be affordable…it is to the benefit everyone to have an educated population.

  59. My best friend went to TJSL and is now practicing on his own in California. I think that the way for all of us who went to 4T law schools to make a living if we can’t get hired by big firm is by practicing on your own or contracting yourself out to a small firm on a case-by-case or hourly basis. I have been able to do this pretty successfully. Also, working with other, well-seasoned attorneys, you quickly realize how they “all seem to know each other,” especially when you go down to the courthouse with them. Most of my jobs have just been from attorney to attorney. I.e. you never know who you are going to meet. You just really have to become a master at networking, but not doing it in an obvious “job fair” way. Making friends around town is an easier way to get a job than a law school job fair!

    Also, check for other grads from your school in the area. Usually, if they went to a 4T school too or even yours, they will understand the position you are in. They are usually more open to hiring, obviously because they might be judging themselves by not considering you and not your school.

    Good luck and lost of hard work to us all!

  60. …for all those out there digging on spelling and grammar…I meant to say “lots” above….

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