Jury Verdict for Thomas Jefferson

March 24th, 2016 / By

Anna Alaburda’s lawsuit against the Thomas Jefferson School of Law is over: a split jury returned a verdict for the law school earlier today. Nine jurors sided with the school, three would have found for Alaburda. One of the jurors stressed that their deliberations focused only on data reported in two editions of US News, rather than on later figures that might have been more misleading. He implied that even the nine jurors siding with the school were not completely comfortable with the school’s conduct.

What should legal educators make of this verdict? Some may sigh in relief; although graduates filed fraud claims against numerous schools, only one has produced a recovery for the plaintiffs. That one suit involved Golden Gate, which paid $8,000 to each of five plaintiffs in a settlement.

Others may celebrate, interpreting the Alaburda verdict as vindication of all employment reporting practices at law schools. If a jury of ordinary citizens found no fraud, then there must have been no wrongdoing.

I would interpret Alaburda and its kin as a more cautionary tale. The widespread reporting practices provoking these lawsuits damaged the reputation of legal education. Most educators now agree that our prior practices were–at the very least–not as informative for prospective students as they should have been. Some of the practices, such as failing to report the number of students supplying salary data, bordered on deceitful.

After the jury verdict, Thomas Jefferson’s attorney told a reporter: “This is not, you know, Trump University. It is so not that.” In my opinion, law schools should have worked harder to avoid even the possibility of that comparison.



About Law School Cafe

Cafe Manager & Co-Moderator
Deborah J. Merritt

Cafe Designer & Co-Moderator
Kyle McEntee

ABA Journal Blawg 100 HonoreeLaw School Cafe is a resource for anyone interested in changes in legal education and the legal profession.

Around the Cafe


Enter your email address to receive notifications of new posts by email.


Recent Comments

Recent Posts

Monthly Archives


Have something you think our audience would like to hear about? Interested in writing one or more guest posts? Send an email to the cafe manager at merritt52@gmail.com. We are interested in publishing posts from practitioners, students, faculty, and industry professionals.

Past and Present Guests