A former assistant career services dean at the Thomas Jefferson Law School has filed a declaration in a class action against the institution in which she acknowledges padding graduate employment statistics in 2006. 

Karen Grant said in a sworn statement in August that she counted recent graduates as employed if they had worked in any capacity since graduation. She blamed pressure by her supervisor to improve the school’s jobs statistics.

Law schools are only supposed to report graduates as employed if they have a job nine months following graduation, according to American Bar Association rules.

“I was to ask first if they were currently employed,” she said. “If the graduate indicated he or she was not currently employed, I would then inquire whether he or she was employed at any time after graduation. If the graduate indicated he or she was employed at any time after graduation (even though currently unemployed), I was instructed to record the graduate as ‘employed’ ” for the record.

Law School Transparency, an organization that argues for law school reform, first reported the declaration on October 23.

Anna Alaburda, a 2008 Thomas Jefferson graduate, kicked off a wave of litigation alleging fraud by law schools in May 2011, when she sued her alma mater on behalf of herself and other graduates. A trio of lawyers in New York subsequently filed similar suits against an additional 14 law schools around the country. Judges have dismissed three of those cases.

Alaburda’s suit survived an initial motion to dismiss and now is in discovery. The two sides are due in court on November 16 for a discovery hearing.

Grant’s declaration not a smoking gun, Thomas Jefferson law dean Rudy Hasl said when asked about the statement. He reiterated the school’s position that it did nothing wrong.

“This is the action of a counsel desperate to find any hook to create embarrassment for Thomas Jefferson,” Hasl said.

Alaburda’s attorney, Brian Procel of Los Angles firm Miller Barondess, did not immediately respond to calls for comment.

Hasl declined to discuss Grant’s employment at the law school, citing confidentiality of personnel records. He did say that Grant’s allegation is untrue and will be answered in court.

According to her statement, Grant worked in the law school’s career services office between September 2006 and September 2007 under former career services dean Laura Weseley. Tracking graduate jobstatistics was part of her job, she said.

Weseley repeatedly pressured her to record the statistics other than as dictated by the ABA, she said.

“I expressed my concern at the time that it did not seem right to update graduates’ employment data only if the graduate became employed, but not if they became unemployed,” Grant said.

Grant said that Weseley responded to her concerns by saying that “everybody does it.” Weseley criticized her, she said, for “not caring” about the school’s postgraduation rate.

Contact Karen Sloan at ksloan@alm.com.