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Alumna Takes on Trump University, Earns $25 Million Settlement…While Working for Free

Alreen Haeggquist ’02

Alreen Haeggquist '02 is a co-founder and managing partner at Zeldes Haeggquist & Eck, the small downtown San Diego law firm that recently gained national attention by winning a class-action lawsuit against Trump University founder Donald J. Trump. Of the $25 million settlement, $4 million will be set aside for a parallel state lawsuit brought in New York by Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.

While the case and now-defunct Trump University took center stage during the presidential campaign, thousands of former 'students' will now get more money back thanks to a selfless decision made by Haeggquist and her colleagues. They agreed to waive attorneys' fees to allow more funds to go to the plaintiffs—amounting to millions of dollars over the course of six-plus years.

Though not easy, Haeggquist knows she made the correct choice.

"It was a difficult decision, but it was the right one," says Haeggquist. "Since the inception of this litigation, our goal has been to obtain the greatest possible recovery for the sizable class of consumers we represented. Waiving our fees allowed us to do just that."

"Alreen's dedication and altruistic nature epitomize the California Western spirit," says President and Dean Niels Schaumann. "That she and her firm sacrificed income for the good of their clients is an action that we, as a law school, are very proud of."

A strong commitment to serving the public dates back to Haeggquist's time as a student at Cal Western, when she investigated claims of wrongful incarceration with the California Innocence Project.

Throughout her career, the desire to help those suffering from discrimination and rights violations has resulted in multiple cases leveraged against mass corporations, with the overwhelming majority of Haeggquist's clients being women who have suffered egregious wrongs at the hands of their employers.

Haeggquist is a founding board member of ThinkDignity (formerly Girls Think Tank), a nonprofit organization that fosters a culture of empowerment among women, while providing a catalyst for social change and service to the San Diego community.