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Law School Grads Sue for More Transparency

A group of 12 law school grads from Thomas Jefferson Law School in California have sued their school alleging that it inflated employment numbers and salaries in order lure at-risk students to apply, reports the AP.

This lawsuit against Thomas Jefferson is simply the latest of a number of lawsuits against California Law Schools in which similar allegations of non-transparency have been lodged. Even with the dismissal of the suits, these instances have prompted critics to call for greater law school transparency.

Case-in-Point

One of the plaintiffs in the Thomas Jefferson case, Nikki Nguyen, was badly burned by her legal education (or she brought about her own misfortune upon herself, depending on one's point of view). She left her $50K job at Boeing to attend Thomas Jefferson Law School. She looked to her sister's career as a corporate attorney and thought she might find similar success.

Instead of success, it took Nguyen almost a year to find a job. She watched her law school debt expand into a monstrous $180,000 (now currently $200,000) and had to take on a para-legal job to make ends meet. Noting Thomas Jefferson's tactics, she advised that "People who dream of law school should go into it with their eyes wide open." Students, for example, might know general figure of school tuition, but they might not be aware of how debt can balloon into an unmanageable monster if it is deferred.

We've Seen This Before

Nguyen's lawsuit is very reminiscent of other lawsuits where disgruntled plaintiff-students have sued their alma maters alleging similar practices of non-transparency ... or worse. Kyle McEntee of LawSchoolTransparency has opined that these schools are "setting up these students for failure."

What kind of failure? Well, in Nguyen's complaint, Thomas Jefferson reported post-graduation employment numbers that exceeded 70 percent and topping 90 in 2010, but failed to mention that some of this employment was just that -- a job. Jobs included clerking, pool cleaning, retail, and other work that did not require a J.D.

Changes Ahead?

Thomas Jefferson has responded that no evidence of any attempt to mislead exists in the record. The school has credited the poor job market as the primary reason for the students' predicament.

The ABA has since required more detailed disclosures by law schools designed to give law students a more realistic view of what they can expect upon graduation.

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