Law Students

5 Reasons Law Students Sue
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Photo courtesy of Harvard Law .

Summary: These fives cases of law students suing their former schools or a legal organization made headlines.

Anyone wanting to go to law school has to be a fighter in some way or another. Law school is mentally draining for three years, and the idea of being saddled with six-figure debt while competing for jobs is nothing for the weak minded. But what happens when fighters who are taught how to litigate don’t get what they want? They sue, that’s what. But what are their reasons?


Not being able to find a job

Starting in 2011, law students who were left with insurmountable debt and no legal job prospects sued their alma maters. They claimed that they were hoodwinked into enrolling by inflated job statistics from the schools. They alleged that the schools counted retail and restaurant jobs, part-time work, etc. in their positive numbers, and they sued to get their money back. One of the most famous cases was filed by Anna Alaburda against Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego. Alaburda said that after she graduated with honors she was unable to find full-time work as a lawyer. In March of 2016, a 9-3 jury denied her claim, stating essentially buyer beware and that going to school is not a guarantee of employment. That ruling was similar to the outcome of the other cases filed, which were dismissed with the same reasons cited.

Disability discrimination

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Tamara Wyche graduated from Harvard Law in 2013, and she failed the bar exam twice. She said that this lack of success derailed her BigLaw career at Ropes & Gray, and she sued the New York State Board of Law Examiners. She said that she made requests for them to accommodate her anxiety and cognitive impairment, but that they did not grant her accommodations. She alleged this was the reason she didn’t pass, which led to her being fired from the law firm. Wyche filed her lawsuit this year, and it is still pending. She is seeking compensatory damages.

Age discrimination

Geoffrey Akers, 68, pulled a rare feat–he was accepted into 10 law schools in 2015. An amazing win at any age. So what did he do with his victory? He sued the one school that rejected him.

FindLaw reported that Akers applied for eleven schools and was rejected by one–the University of Connecticut. He sued U-Conn because they had also rejected him in 2012 and 2013, and he felt that there was a pattern of dismissal there. The gentleman with seven degrees said that he was discriminated against because of his age. Under the Freedom of Information Act, he requested the school’s discrimination policies and applicants’ demographics, and the FOI said that the school appeared compliant.

Not learning anything 

Across the pond, an Oxford Brookes University Department of Law graduate sued the school in 2011. The Daily Mail reported that Maria Abramova, originally from Russia, studied at Oxford but then failed the exam to become a solicitor (the British word for lawyer). She said she also failed the New York bar exam. Abramova claimed that the school didn’t prepare her for the solicitor test and that she suffered psychological damage attending the university. She sought £100,000 from Oxford, which denied all liability for her failure.

Reverse discrimination

A white law school student with a first year GPA of 1.948 sued Southern Illinois University School of Law for not allowing her to return for her second year. Lisa Dawn Rittenhouse sued SIU in 2007 because she said that she was discriminated against for being white, according to the Madison Record. Although the school had a rule in place that only students with a first year GPA of 1.95 would be allowed to come back, Rittenhouse said that exceptions were made for black students. Additionally, Rittenhouse said that she had ADHD which affected her academic performance, and that the school failed to accommodate for her disability. She sought $1.5 million, but the case was dismissed.

What are some of the most memorable cases of law students suing their alma mater? Let us know in the comments below.



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