Thomas Jefferson Law School

Luz Herrera

The economy had to tank and a lot of people had to become unemployed for law schools to ask: ‘How can we help people hang out their shingle?’

Luz Herrera, a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, commenting on the need for law schools to establish solo practice incubators. In 2007, CUNY School of Law was the first school to introduce such an innovative program for its graduates.

Ever since Anna Alaburda sued Thomas Jefferson School of Law over its allegedly misleading employment statistics, we’ve been waiting for TJSL to respond. Today is that day, and the school’s answer does not disappoint.

The school has filed two documents in response to Alaburda’s complaint. We’ve uploaded their demurrer and their motion to strike. They are not long; you should flip through them.

Thomas Jefferson makes a solid defense of itself. But in the process of trying to quash Alaburda’s lawsuit, the school offers some pretty damning admissions that seem to support Alaburda’s underlying moral, if not legal, point…

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Boy, it has not been a fun 2011 for Thomas Jefferson School of Law. The school has already been sued in a first-of-its-kind lawsuit over its allegedly misleading employment statistics. Even if all the allegations against the school are true, TJSL would be guilty of doing what a bunch of other law schools do; they’d just be the first to get called out in a court for such behavior.

And speaking of things that kind of happen everywhere, we’re learning today of a more mundane lawsuit filed against Thomas Jefferson. This one alleges sexual harassment by a school official against school employees.

I know, I know, sexual harassment allegations from a former employee tend to make people yawn. But this case has a fun twist: the plaintiff is alleging that a school official was sexually harassing his wife…

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It appears that we closed the poll but forgot to announce the Lawyer of the Month for May 2011. That’s our bad. We’ve been so busy trying to keep up with all the bats**t crazy lawyers sprouting up in June that May 2011 feels like it took place in 2008.

But we don’t want to totally forget about the May Lawyer of the Month, because it gives us one more chance to honor a recent law graduate who might be doing everybody a world of good….

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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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* And finally, a law student sues a law school for its allegedly misleading post-graduate employment information. [Law School Transparency]

* A “leading business lawyer in Germany,” reportedly a partner at Linklaters, allegedly attempts to evade paying taxes on his new lederhosen. Now is the time on Spockets when we dance. [Roll on Friday]

* Score one for anonymous emails! [Law & Technology]

Paul Simon

* DSK gears up to blame the victim. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Female lawyers arguing over women having children and taking maternity leave. I think I’m going to read this post, go with my boys to see The Hangover 2, and then hit up Rick’s. [Vault]

* First-time Tennessee bar exam takers who graduated from the University of Memphis Law School passed the bar. All of them. As Successful Troll might say, congratulations to all of the soon-to-be-employed Memphis Law grads! [The Commercial Appeal]

* A patent attorney from Drinker Biddle helps Paul Simon out with a song. [Reliable Source / Washington Post]

* Deporting immigrant same-sex partners is just cruel. [In The Arena / CNN]

Here at Above the Law, we’re still enjoying the awesomeness of 1Ls and 2Ls going to war over the appropriate use of a listserv.

Today we’ve got an email more mundane in subject matter, but no less objectionable. It’s from a 1L (of course), who is trying to “network” with fellow 1Ls.

And it’s written by a 1L at Thomas Jefferson Law School, which had a starring role in the recent, widely read New York Times article on the dangers of going to law school. So our more elitist readers are about to have a field day…

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Like many of you, I read the epic New York Times article on law school debt over the weekend. To answer the most consistent question I’ve received in the past 36 hours: no, I don’t feel like I’ve “won.” And I don’t feel like the NYT has somehow validated some of my commentary over the past two years.

Because the New York Times article, by David Segal, simply captures a story that everybody who has been paying attention already knows: law students are getting themselves into serious debt problems, with no plan for how to pay the debts back. This we know.

But there are things we don’t know. How do you get prospective law students to pay attention to the harsh economic realities before they sign up for law school? What can be done to make those economic realities a little bit less harsh? And what can be done after somebody makes a ruinous investment in higher education?

Now, as far as getting prospective law students to pay attention, your guess is as good as mine. Maybe a big-time article like this in the NYT helps. We already know, however, that unless it shows up in the U.S. News Law School Rankings, prospective law students don’t really care.

So let’s focus on the other questions…

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