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.
She is now suing the school that educated her, the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, claiming the school falsified its employment numbers.
It's a claim the school flatly denies, saying this lawsuit is about a much bigger debate.
"It's just sort of bewildering: that is the best word I can come up with," said Beth Kransberger, Associate Dean for Student Affairs at Thomas Jefferson.
Alaburda, a 2008 graduate of TJSL, claims in a recent lawsuit that the school committed intentional fraud by misrepresenting employment statistics for its graduates.
According to the complaint, which is seeking $50 million, Alaburda chose Thomas Jefferson law school based on its published post-graduation employment rates, which typically exceed 70 percent.
Those were numbers that, unbeknownst to Alaburda, included part-time employment as well as non-law positions, according to the lawsuit.
Since graduating with honors, Alaburda has been "unable to secure a full time job as an attorney that pays more than non-legal jobs available to her," according to the suit, adding she 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."
But Kransberger says the school has never misrepresented its employment numbers.
"We have always followed the system given to us by the ABA," she told News 8. "We have always reported accurately and as thoroughly as humanly possible."
The school says this lawsuit is more about the debate over whether pursuing a graduate degree, and the massive debt it can incur, is worth it in an unpredictable job market.
"It is certainly the product of a difficult economy," Kransberger added.
"Even if they keep totally valid statistics, that doesn't say anything about what's going to happen to you personally," said career counselor Judy Kaplan Baron.
Kaplan Baron added that schools are in the business of educating, not finding its graduates work.
"It is the responsibility of the person who is paying so much for an education to figure out what they're going to be able to do with it," Kaplan Baron told News 8. "That is going in with your eyes open: I guess it's a very expensive life lesson."
According to the complaint, Alaburda has been working as a document reviewer on a freelance basis, still unable to find work as a full-time attorney.
For its part, the law school says Alaburda's experience was not that of the majority of her fellow graduates.
According to a new report by the National Association for Law Placement, the overall employment rate for new law school graduates throughout the country is at a 15-year low, at under 88 percent.