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Author Topic: San Diego law school grad sues her alma mater for $50 million  (Read 3716 times)

unknownOne

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SAN DIEGO CBS 8 - A former local law student is suing her alma mater for $50 million, after she couldn't find a job.

The student, San Diegan Anna Alaburda, graduated with honors from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law and passed the bar on her first try. She claims she has been unable to find full-time work as an attorney for the past three years. [continued ....]

http://www.cbs8.com/story/14831984/san-diego-law-school-grad-sues-her-alma-mater-for-50-million

Thane Messinger

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Re: San Diego law school grad sues her alma mater for $50 million
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2011, 05:18:28 PM »
SAN DIEGO CBS 8 - A former local law student is suing her alma mater for $50 million, after she couldn't find a job.

The student, San Diegan Anna Alaburda, graduated with honors from the Thomas Jefferson School of Law and passed the bar on her first try. She claims she has been unable to find full-time work as an attorney for the past three years. [continued ....]


If she loses, will that be evidence that the law school didn't do its job?

= :   )

bigs5068

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Re: San Diego law school grad sues her alma mater for $50 million
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2011, 02:11:23 AM »
Unreal when will law students take some accountability for their decisions it is simply embarrassing. I find it very hard to believe this woman could not find anything for 3 years especially considering I know two TJSL grads that have found jobs and are doing fine. I am certain TJSL never told this student or any student that graduating and passing the bar would guarantee them a job. This type of story disgusts me and I hope the judge in this case rips her a new one. I really hope the judge whips out her personal statement she wrote detailing how she handles adverserity and overcomes challenges etc and says so what happened to you that would be classic.

Cereal_Killer

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Re: San Diego law school grad sues her alma mater for $50 million
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2011, 11:11:09 AM »
I understand that the girl is mad, and probably scared too. Who wouldn't be scared while staring at 150k in debt with no viable means to pay it down? But she has to take a long, hard look in mirror, and buck up.

Every student who attends a T4 school must comes to terms with the fact that it's going to be a struggle to find employment and his degree alone isn't going to open any doors. Consequently, finding a job out of a T4 school is more about networking and gaining real-world experience through clinics and externships, then how well one does in school. Sure grades matter, but not all honors graduates are created equal. Selection of elective courses can play a significant role in how you're viewed by a perspective employer.

I don't know if this is case with this girl, but imagine if she was able to achieve her "honors" status by racking up electives in classes universally known as "bunny courses," e.g., Law and Literature. If she competed for a job against a fellow TJSL who had a slightly lower gpa (and graduated without honors) but who focused her elective courses on, say, contract drafting and other practical skill courses, she would likely lose nine times out of ten.

Also, she complains that she sent out 150 resumes to no avail. This, too, needs to be qualified. If these were just template, unsolicited resumes, then 150 is nothing. However, if she sent a resume for each law firm along with a tailored cover letter (for example, she could've researched a recent case the firm worked on and discussed what she could have brought to the table, and so on), then 150 is significant. But if she just sent out 150 template resumes/cover letters, then she should have sent out hundreds (if not thousands) more. There are over 2700 attorneys and law firms listed on Martindale Hubbell in San Diego alone.

I think part of the problem is that most people fail to realize when they're unemployed searching for a job should be approached as a full-time job in itself. From the scant details that I've read about this case, I'm not sure she understood this.

Thane Messinger

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Re: San Diego law school grad sues her alma mater for $50 million
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2011, 04:02:10 PM »
Also, she complains that she sent out 150 resumes to no avail. This, too, needs to be qualified. If these were just template, unsolicited resumes, then 150 is nothing. However, if she sent a resume for each law firm along with a tailored cover letter (for example, she could've researched a recent case the firm worked on and discussed what she could have brought to the table, and so on), then 150 is significant. But if she just sent out 150 template resumes/cover letters, then she should have sent out hundreds (if not thousands) more. There are over 2700 attorneys and law firms listed on Martindale Hubbell in San Diego alone.

I think part of the problem is that most people fail to realize when they're unemployed searching for a job should be approached as a full-time job in itself. From the scant details that I've read about this case, I'm not sure she understood this.


Excellent points.  I graduated into a dismal market (in 1991), and while I had OCIs (which became suddenly even rarer as firm after firm cancelled) I also had to scramble to line up my own interviews, including paying for a trip with money I didn't have to, essentially, create my own interview tour.  And this with, yes, law review, top school, etc.  Interestingly, it was one of these interviews that paid off, in a firm I almost didn't contact.  (And, yes, nowadays there's no excuse for anything less than a semi-custom CV and letter for each firm.)  Had I had the skills in OCI that I had to develop for the self-generated interviews, I might have bought a ticket to Boston or New York rather than Honolulu.  Although looking back I am happy it worked out as it did, it was a stressful time.  But it was far less stressful for me than for others.

I write that only to say that it's easy to react negatively when someone lectures about finding a job, etc, etc.  But, it really is true.  If it's a full-time job, chances are you'll be fired . . . and hired into a job you do want.

Not only should looking for work be taken very, very seriously, but it's important to be brutally honest with yourself about interviewing skills.  In a good market, so-so interviews can work, sort of.  But even then, those top jobs tend to go to those who are, yes, top candidates . . . but also to those who act like top candidates. 

There's an excerpt by a law partner about interviewing in a book, the Insider's Guide to Getting a Big Firm Job.  The parter provides a measure of this brutal honesty.  That book was written for a seemingly different age, but, paradoxically, it's even more important now to develop those skills for finding and landing an interview, and then actually interviewing well.

Hamilton

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Re: San Diego law school grad sues her alma mater for $50 million
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2011, 05:27:54 PM »
I hear what you guys are saying, but on the flip side I think folks are awfully quick to dismiss someone speaking out about having difficulty finding a job as being lazy, feeling entitled, or simply not trying hard enough.

bigs5068

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Re: San Diego law school grad sues her alma mater for $50 million
« Reply #6 on: June 29, 2011, 12:16:17 AM »
It does suck that she is having trouble finding a job, but as Thane said it is HARD! Honestly, if you think finding a job is hard wait until you have to actually work and deal with crazy clients requests etc. Honestly 150 resumes over 3 years is nothing. I sent out over 1,000 (approximately) during my 2L got interviews at 30 places and only 8 job offers. That is 992 failures and less than 1% success rate, but that is the world we live in. You have to hustle and this whole difficulty finding a job is not only applicable to law school. Lets not forget it is a "GLOBAL" recession and even if it wasn't nobody hands out jobs.

I honestly think the fact that she is asking for $50 million dollars just shows how delusional she is. Then her complaint is the employment numbers were skewed? Really? I imagine if she paid attention in her first year contracts class she would have learned about "puffery." Now if TJSL said "student name" we guarantee you a job at graduation if you attend TJSL then maybe she would have case. However, I cannot imagine any school anywhere saying that not even Harvard. Thane just described what happened when he started out and he was on law review at University of Texas a top school. I imagine he sent out more than 150 resumes and it sounds like he put significant effort into finding a job. I imagine there were some rejections along the way, but eventually he succeeded and I am sure in the first few years of his career there were some failures and maybe even a lay-off or firing. That is just what happens in "any" field.

These types of stories blow my mind. Even the New York times articles blow my mind that students simply cannot take any accountability for their decisions. They were "tricked,"? Really did TJSL go to this student's home and say you MUST come to our school and stay all three years. No. She made a decision as a college graduate, that did decently on the LSAT, and I am sure wrote a detailed personal statement explaining how hard working, dedicated, and determined she was. The school decided to let her in and she was given a legal education. Not only that she passed the bar. Again if she paid attention in 1st year contracts she woudl realize she entered into a contract and the consideration was money for legal education. TJSL got their money she got an education. No law school guarantees you a job and no educational institution anywhere in any field guarantees you a job. With the exception of Westpoint & Annapolis as I understand it.

Hamilton

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Re: San Diego law school grad sues her alma mater for $50 million
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2011, 08:58:37 AM »
"puffery?"  Thats where a claim is impossible to substantiate or no reasonable person would believe the claim - "world's greatest law school" comes to mind as an example.  Employment stats are significantly different.  In recent years many have come to realize that the law school employment numbers are "innacurate" at best, and fraudulent according to many; however, tough to argue that no reasonable person would/should believe the so-called STATISTICS published by a school.  Would you spend $150K on a law degree from a school if it advertised an employment rate of 30% with an average salary of $60K?  That's a lot different than 95% and average salary of $90K.

WRT the $50M claim - you know better than to say she is being "delusional."  You aim high and negotiate/settle for something less. 

bigs5068

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Re: San Diego law school grad sues her alma mater for $50 million
« Reply #8 on: June 29, 2011, 10:58:04 AM »
Yes you do aim high, but 50 million? Really.. The most she possibly lost was 150k in tuition, 3 years of full-time work and if we are VERY GENEROUS lets say would have made a 100k a year so that is 450k lost. She is asking for 100x more than the most generous number of actual damages she could be awarded. So that is delusional 5 million is probably a reasonable number. This is like asking for the death penalty for stealing a candy bar. This 50million dollar is ludicrous.

Then lets go to her actual argument. Assume they did say 90% of students were employed. My school told me similar numbers, but I was going to be spending 3 years of my life and a lot of money so I asked the simple question. " what does employed mean." They said we have a detailed sheet, but the career person is out to lunch do you need to see it. I could have said no and just assumed it would be fine, but again I was going to be paying 100k & spendign 3 years of my life so I said I will wait. I then got the detailed figures and technically 90% was right, but looking a little deeper I saw the "puffery". The actual full-time employees was in the neighborhood of 35-40% then 20% had contract/temp jobs another 10% or so were in academia (which might mean the law school hired them) etc etc, but I saw the realities based on these figures and took the risk. When you make 150k investment you should do some of your own research. When you buy a house do just take the owner's word of it is a good house, good neighborhood, blah blah, now hopefully you ask at least one question.

Here is employment info from TJSL's website http://www.tjsl.edu/sites/default/files/files/Employment%20Statistics%20for%20Website%207-14-10.pdf now they put their numbers a little out of context, but if your paying 150k and three years of your life and read the fine print you will see they are not hiding anything.

They claim 84.7% of people were employed ok fine, but I am paying 150k so maybe I will read this 2 page document to see the real facts. Lets see only 58.1% are employed in law firms maybe I should look to the 10th line of the first page. Then I realize out of these 58.1% people employed in law firms 36.6 of these people are at firms of "unknown size" and that means of the 58% of people working in law firms they only actually know where 22% of the class actually is.. It is a bit misleading, but they area  business putting things in the best light. If you take the time it took me 4 minutes to figure it out you will see they are not hiding anything. aAgain law students take no accountability for themselves and all you have to do is look and you will see the real numbers.   

Now ss going to a tier 4 school or any law school for that matter a risk? Absolutely, but the people taking these risks are not stupid and I knew when I attended my tier 4 there was a real possibility of things not working out and they still might not, but if it doesn't I knew the risks and I won't go pointing the finger at everybody else. Instead I will take accountability for my decision.  I was a college graduate, I wrote a detailed personal statement about how I overcome obstacles, I had Letters of recommendation from bosses, professors etc. Nothing in my application indicates I am unable to make a decision for myself and that is what I have done. End of story. I hope the judge in this case brings out her application I think that would be classic. If she did write an incohrrent PS and all of her LOR's said she was an idiot then maybe she should win her lawsuit, but I find that scenario unlikely.

FalconJimmy

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Re: San Diego law school grad sues her alma mater for $50 million
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2011, 11:41:51 AM »
WRT the $50M claim - you know better than to say she is being "delusional."  You aim high and negotiate/settle for something less.

Actually, although I don't think she's totally full of ****, I thought the 50 million claim was insane.  If she could have reasonably looked forward to a 40 year career, is she really trying to say she would have made 1.25 million a year?  Even if you include the time value of money, or that she would have invested the lion's share of her income, there is absolutely no possible way to justify $50 million.

Yes, you go in high and negotiate, but frankly, the $50 million is illustrative, IMHO.  This is a person who really has their head up their ***.  Go to court with a demand for $50 million and you're going to turn off everybody, the judge, the jury, everyone.

As for employment stats, in defense of the schools, what are you supposed to do if a person gets employment outside the law?  Treat it like a "walk" in baseball when computing batting averages? 

What if the person gets a job as manager of a public relations firm?  Was that because of the law degree?  Would ANY graduate degree have sufficed?  (In which case, frankly, the school of law should get the credit, just as the college of fine arts should get the credit if the person had gotten the job with an MFA.)  Was it because the person was the cousin of the CEO? 

How is the law school supposed to differentiate all that?  Are they REALLY supposed to try to figure all that out?

Here's another unusual, but very real-world example.  I own a business.  Before the recession, we used to do 7 figures in annual sales and I didn't once contemplate going to law school.  I was too busy walking the course at the local country club every day.  (If we'd done 8 figures, I could have afforded a cart.)

I am getting a law degree, now.  If my business never improves, I will probably end up in the practice of law.  If it does?  I may very well just hang the JD on the wall as a very expensive novelty.

Should the school get rewarded for that?  Not really. 

Should they get punished, though?  Because I will not be "working in the law"?  I say no.

We all know that law school is largely a vocational school with only one true purpose:  to prepare a person to make a living as an attorney.

However, in the grand scheme of things the people who educate will argue until they're blue in the face that education serves a broader purpose than just preparing you for a vocation. 

With the current cost of law school, that's easy to forget.  However, in my case, I should have the ability to write a contract, or at a minimum, to read a contract without the need for an attorney to interpret it for me.  Heck, if I get hit with a nuisance lawsuit, informing opposing counsel that I am an attorney and I will vigorously fight the suit at every possible level could be worth tens of thousands of dollars per occurrance.  (Face it, 9 times out of 10, the settlement is something like $4,000 to $8,000, which defense counsel advises his client to pay, because the cost of litigation would easily exceed that.  Once I take cost of representation off the table, plaintiff's counsel will know that I don't have to fear a mountain of legal bills... they'll look for easier money, elsewhere.)

So, even if I'm NOT an attorney, going to law school would provide considerable benefits. 

Shoot, when I got my MBA, I didn't get a raise or even a new job.  I just kept the one I had.  Then, within 6 months, a couple of calls from recruiters let me get another $15,000 from my current employer.  So, even the purely economic value of a degree may not be evident until months or even years later.

Personally, I think this lawsuit is idiotic.  I hope the school annihilates her.  It shouldn't be profitable to be stupid.  Anybody who goes to law school these days who thinks it's a guarantee of ANYTHING is an idiot.  Really.  If you're not going to a T14 school, and you don't understand that you may not even be EMPLOYED at graduation, then you've got some serious, serious problems with your abilities of logic.

From a policy standpoint, what's the answer?  To shutter the doors to all but the T14 schools?  If you don't have an impeccable GPA and LSAT, then no law school for you? 

Going to a lowly ranked school is a crapshoot, but for some people, that's all the want:  a way to start trying to kick the door down, themselves. 

She went, took her chances and if she'd gotten a 20 million dollar contingency on a personal injury verdict, she probably would not have felt that she had to pay a portion of it to her law school.  Things didn't work out for her.  Too bad, so sad.  Vote for people who will make student loan debt dischargeable in bankruptcy and move on.