San Diego

For the most part, I’ve just been happy that the lawsuit against Thomas Jefferson School of Law, over the school’s allegedly misleading employment statistics, exists. It’s not about winning or losing; it’s about raising awareness of the disingenuous way law schools go about filling up their classes.

Of course, anytime somebody says “it’s not about winning or losing,” you can best believe that person expects to lose. I’ve been operating under the assumption that Anna Alaburda, the woman suing TJSL, would get her butt kicked all over the courthouse.

But maybe I am wrong to give up hope for a victory so quickly. Karen Sloan of the National Law Journal has managed to find a couple of lawyers who believe law schools could be in big trouble…

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We mentioned this news last week, but judging from the slew of emails we’ve received about it, many of you want to discuss it at greater length. So let’s talk about it: the class action lawsuit recently filed against Thomas Jefferson School of Law by a 2008 honors graduate of TJSL, Anna Alaburda, alleging that the San Diego-based law school commits fraud, by using misleading post-graduation employment and salary data to attract new students.

The complaint in Alaburda v. TJSL contains counts for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and violations of various California statutes (including laws against unfair business practices and false advertising). Plaintiff Anna Alaburda claims that she racked up more than $150,000 in student loans and can’t find decent legal employment, even though she graduated with honors from TJSL, passed the California bar exam, and sent more than 150 résumés to law firms. She now does document review on a project-by-project basis.

Alaburda’s lawsuit seeks compensatory damages “believed to be in excess of $50,000,000,” punitive damages, and injunctive relief, to stop TJSL from continuing its allegedly unlawful conduct. Alaburda seeks to represent a class consisting of “[a]ll persons who attended TJSL within the statutory period” — a group estimated to contain more than 2,300 individuals.

Let’s take a closer look at this lawsuit — filed by partner Brian Procel of Miller Barondess LLP, a Boalt Hall grad and former Quinn Emanuel associate, incidentally — and consider its possible implications for legal education….

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You know, given the fact that most law school professors act like they are doing you a favor by grading your exams, it’s a wonder this kind of thing doesn’t happen more often. Of course, since it doesn’t happen more often, this is a noteworthy occurrence.

A criminal law professor out in California figured out there were grading errors from her fall semester course. She figured this out last week. But the errors were so significant that it changed the class rank of some students.

Yeah, so if you got dinged from a summer associate position because your first semester grades were too low, or if perhaps you didn’t even apply for some positions because you didn’t meet a percentile cut-off, whoops, your professor might have screwed up.

Which law school needs to examine its motives?

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Sometimes lawyers at Cadwalader are the victims of theft. And sometimes they’re the ones doing the stealing.

Here’s the promised follow-up to yesterday’s post about Cadwalader’s successful raid on the energy law practice of McDermott Will & Emery. It’s big news in Biglaw. As of now, nine partners are moving — Paul Pantano, Karen Dewis, Greg Lawrence, Greg Mocek, Tony Mansfield, Ken Irvin, Rob Stephens, Daryl Rice and Doron Ezickson — but if they’re followed by associates, a few dozen lawyers could be involved.

In an email sent out on Wednesday by MWE leaders Jeff Stone and Peter Sacripanti, reprinted in full after the jump, McDermott tried to minimize the losses. Stone and Sacripanti pointed out that “[t]his group of partners focused mainly on one aspect of our overall energy practice, which was commodities and derivatives trading for financial clients,” and that “the departing partners’ total collections in 2010 amounted to about three percent of overall firm revenue.”

Still, three percent of total MWE revenue is nothing to scoff at. In 2009, McDermott had total revenue of $829 million, according to the American Lawyer. Assuming that 2010 revenue is similar (the Am Law numbers aren’t out yet), three percent amounts to $24.87 million. Dividing that out over nine partners yields revenue per partner of about $2.8 million — not a bad book of business.

Let’s check out some reader views on this news….

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university san diego law.jpgUPDATE (3/12/11): Douglas Wacker was acquitted of the charges discussed below — please see the update at the end of this post.

One University of San Diego Law School student isn’t worrying about deferrals. He’s worrying about defense strategies. From the San Diego Union-Tribune:

A 30-year-old Marine Corps captain will face a court-martial Feb. 8 on rape and other charges involving three University of San Diego students in April 2007, a judge ruled today.

At the time of the alleged crimes, Capt. Douglas S. Wacker was on unpaid leave from the military to pursue a law degree at the university and on a spring break trip to New Orleans with the three alleged victims.

So not a very fun spring break trip for those San Diego law students.

According to the Union-Tribune, the New Orleans D.A. and a USD administrative board both looked into the allegations and decided not to pursue them, even though, in the opinion of one USD student, Wacker’s a “creeper”:

This guy was a 3L last year and was on the moot court board. A lot of people thought he was a real creeper.

Wacker might well be a “creeper,” whatever that means, but whether he’s a rapist is yet to be determined. The University of San Diego won’t be giving him a degree until that’s sorted out though. The University’s message to students, AND an update (analysis from a lawyer and former Marine as to Wacker’s fate), after the jump.

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