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Former law school career services employee admits to falsifying employment data, says she was ordered to do so

[ 17 ] October 23, 2012 |

A former assistant career services director at Thomas Jefferson School of Law has admitted in a sworn statement to fabricating graduate employment data, and claims she was ordered to do so by her boss, the director of the of the office. Law School Transparency broke the story this afternoon:

Grant alleges that her fraud was part of a deliberate scheme by the law school’s administration to inflate its employment statistics. She also claims that her direct supervisor, Laura Weseley, former Director of Career Services, instructed her on multiple occasions to improperly record graduate employment outcomes and justified the scheme because “everybody does it” thus “it is no big deal.” TJSL could face sanctions from the American Bar Association as severe as losing accreditation.

Grant was Assistant Director of Career Services at TJSL from September 2006 to September 2007, during which she was tasked with tracking and recording employment outcomes of recent graduates. Grant is a licensed California attorney and made her sworn declaration on August 2, 2012 in connection to the class action lawsuit filed by Anna Alaburda, et al. against TJSL in 2011. (Complaint; Original Story.)

Specifically, Grant admits that she “routinely recorded currently unemployed students as ‘employed’ if they had been employed at any time since graduation,” which is a violation of both ABA and NALP reporting guidelines. Graduates should only be recorded as employed if they are employed as of February 15. Exhibit B, A handwritten note by Karen Grant from a meeting with Laura Weseley on Oct. 16, 2006.

TJSL denies both Grant’s allegation that she was ordered to falsify data, and that the data Grant submitted was false. In an email to LST, Rudy Hasl, the school’s dean, also questioned Grant’s motivations:

“The law school stands behind the accuracy of the data that we submitted to the American Bar Association.” Sources report that Grant was terminated in 2007, though when asked for clarification, Dean Hasl would not comment on internal personnel matters beyond suggesting that LST “do a due diligence analysis … including the reasons for her departure from the School of Law.”

I’ll have more on this story shortly.

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Comments (17)

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  1. thusbloggedanderson says:

    But of course, the law students should have reasonably *expected* their school to be falsifying data and lying to them. Caveat emptor and all that.

    • Paul Campos says:

      That is actually not very far at all from what the judges in the NYLS and Cooley cases asserted when they didn’t even let those cases go to discovery. This is the first suit that has gotten past a motion to dismiss.

      • Sherm says:

        Do you know whether an appeal was perfected in the NYLS case? Not that I expect a reversal, but just curious.

        • Paul Campos says:

          Yes it’s being appealed, as is the Cooley ruling. Also, a suit against Golden Gate has survived a motion to dismiss, so we’ll see some actual evidence in that one too (apparently California courts are less inclined to buy the “it’s your fault you believed our lies” defense).

          • Murc says:

            IANAL, but isn’t “sure, we lied, but the truth was sitting right there in front of your nose to be discovered” actually recognized as a legitimate defense in many kinds of contract disputes?

            • Sherm says:

              Fraud — not contract — and there is a factual dispute whether the “truth was sitting right their in front of their noses.” The Judge got around this by deciding as a matter of law that the prospective law students were “sophisticated” consumers of education. A sophisticated business person is held to a higher standard to ascertain the truth of the statements made by the other side than a non-sophisticated person.

          • Sherm says:

            Thanks. Knew that a notice of appeal had been filed, but had not heard that the appeal had been perfected. New York doesn’t exactly have a “its your fault you bought our lies” defense to the extent that Schweitzer held either. My sense from reading his decision was that he was uncomfortable with the damages issue (which is understandable), and came up with a pretext to dismiss a case he simply didn’t like.

      • thusbloggedanderson says:

        Right, Paul – I was echoing those judges. Left off the irony mark.

  2. I had to look up where the Thomas Jefferson School of Law is located (San Diego). It is a stand-alone institution, unaffiliated with any university. The ABA has accredited it, more shame to it. Seriously, ABA, cosmetology schools get more scrutiny.

  3. Grant’s tenure at TJSL was during ’06 and ’07, which puts this alleged fraud before the financial crash. This time frame is worth noting, as the current dire employment straits for law school graduates often are blamed on the Great Recession. Here is one “data point” that suggests that the dire straits began much earlier than that.

    Weseley’s alleged assurance to Grant that “everybody does it” suggests an industry standard of practice (albeit unofficial) that goes beyond TJSL’s standard of practice. My own anecdotal observations as a graduate (’09) of a state flagship campus law school is that “everybody” includes law schools more prestigious than the so-called “third tier” schools. This kind of fudging of the data is a problem everywhere, save perhaps for the “Top-20″ schools.

  4. Ken Houghton says:

    So she did this five years ago, it has only been discovered now, and the initial defense is to say, “Well, gosh, she was terminated–though we’re not certain of the actual circumstances?”

    I want these guys as counsel–to anyone I have to meet in court.

  5. cpinva says:

    possibly she was terminated, because at some point she simply refused to continue going along with the scam? were i the dean, i wouldn’t be in any hurry to make that public.

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