Following up on Wednesday's post, Charlotte Law School Reopens: 33% Of Students Have Transferred, Prof Says 42% Bar Pass Rate Would Have Been In 20s But For Payments To Students Not To Take Bar: Charlotte Observer, Recordings Shed Light on Charlotte School of Law’s Methods to Boost Bar Passage:
Last week, WFAE reported that the troubled Charlotte School of Law paid graduates deemed at-risk to delay taking the bar and enroll in a bar preparation course. This program came about a few years ago as it had become the state’s largest law school with the poorest record of graduates passing the bar.
Today, WFAE’s Lisa Worf reports on secret recordings of a law school official that shed light on how much the deferral program inflated bar passage statistics.
About a week before the July 2015 bar, it didn’t look like most Charlotte School of Law graduates would pass the exam. Odessa Alm, the Assistant Dean of Student Success, gathered a small group of professors who served as bar prep coaches.
“You know, if we didn’t have the extended program last time — if we all didn’t work really hard to defer the 21 people that we deferred, our pass rate would have likely been 20-something percent,” she told them.
Instead, in February 2015, 42 percent of Charlotte School of Law graduates passed North Carolina’s bar on their first try. The school often has the lowest pass rate in North Carolina and ranks among the worst in the country. Partly for this reason, Charlotte School of Law came under scrutiny by its accreditor the American Bar Association.
About that time a law school professor secretly recorded Alm. In this particular meeting, Alm was trying to get coaches to impart some urgency on recent graduates. They’d been taking practice exams and it didn’t look good. “When you’re coaching someone and they’re being lazy, do you allow them to be?” [No.] “Okay, so do we tell them if they’re training for some event, do we say, ‘It’s okay. You’re not where you need to be. Keep trying,’” chided Alm. “We’re not cheerleaders. We’re coaches. ‘Get down on the f***ing floor and give me 40. You’re going to run more laps.’ That’s what a coach is. A coach is not a cheerleader.”
At another weekly bar prep meeting around the same time, she struck a similar tone: “It is on with these f***ing mother****ers. I want them to pass the bar and I believe that they can. But they need to get over themselves. They have no understanding of themselves,” said Alm.
Former Charlotte School of Law professor Andrew McAdams was on the receiving end of those pep talks for a year and a half. He was hired to teach Professional Responsibility in the summer of 2014. That’s basically a legal ethics class. But the school also put him to work coaching students and recent grads about to take the bar. “I do recall those meetings and others where that type of language and that level of, um, disdain was expressed. And it made me uncomfortable and I think it made many others uncomfortable as well,” says McAdams.
Many things troubled him during his time at the for-profit Charlotte School of Law where tuition is $44,000. He says most of his colleagues expressed serious concerns, but it was hard to truly understand the extent of the problems. He’d get instructions that didn’t make any sense to him, like encourage struggling graduates to delay taking the bar. ...
McAdams generally told students to take it right away. But he got a lot of pressure to talk with struggling ones about the Path to Success bar deferral program and the $11,200 stipend that went along with it. ... It was also when he began suspecting the school had what he calls a “selfish, ulterior motive” with the bar deferral program.
Charlotte School of Law had come under a lot of pressure to raise bar passage rates. In January 2015, the ABA told school leaders it had reason to believe the school wasn’t demonstrating compliance with ABA standards. And so the school made changes, like toughening the curve. In the recordings, Alm said faculty voted on that. But she says they did not vote on something she called “more controversial and more impactful.” That was adding a mandatory bar passage class in the third year.
“Faculty all across the country are delusional as to what they have the power to do and what they have the power not to do. And, frankly, they don’t have the power to allow our school to shut down because our bar results never improve. Because if they don’t vote for it, then that’s where we’re going to be. So we’re not going to worry about it,” Alm told bar prep coaches.
Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:
- It Begins . . . Department Of Education Cuts Off Federal Student Loans For Charlotte Law School, Effective Dec. 31 (Dec. 19, 2016)
- More On The Department Of Education's Decision To Cut Off Federal Student Loans For Charlotte Law School (Dec. 20, 2016)
- Students, Faculty React To Department Of Education's Decision To Cut Off Federal Student Loans For Charlotte Law School (Dec. 23, 2016)
- Students File $5 Million Class Action Lawsuit Against Charlotte Law School (Dec. 24, 2016)
- Editorial: 'Unconscionable' Leaders Hid Charlotte Law School's Problems To Keep Revenue Flowing; 'Catastrophic Fiasco May Destroy Lives Of Hundreds Of Innocent Students' (Dec. 29, 2016)
- Charlotte Law School Works On Transfer Plan With Florida Coastal As Rumors And Lawsuits Swirl After Feds Cut Off Student Loans (Jan. 5, 2017)
- Charlotte Law School To Reopen Jan. 17, Despite Feds' Decision To Cut Off Student Loans (Jan. 9, 2017)
- Charlotte Dean Fires Associate Dean For Academics And Faculty Development Who 'Acted As Shield Between InfiLaw And Faculty And Students' (Jan. 10, 2017)
- Is Doomsday Imminent For Charlotte Law School? Is The ABA Going To Do Anything About The Other 2 InfiLaw Schools? (Jan. 11, 2017)
- Leef: Feds Should Eliminate Student Loans For All Law Schools, Not Just Charlotte (Jan. 15, 2017)
- The Demise Of Charlotte Law School Resurrects Talk Of New Law School At University Of North Carolina-Charlotte (Jan. 16, 2017)
- Charlotte Law School To File Teach-Out Plan With ABA To Protect Students As School Shuts Down (Jan. 18, 2017)
- Charlotte Law School Fires Two-Thirds Of Faculty And Staff, Abandons Teach-Out Plan As Negotiations With Department Of Education Collapse; Classes Begin Jan. 23 (Jan. 19, 2017)
- Charlotte Law School Rejects Feds' Demand That It Close Immediately And Let Teach-Out Partner Florida Coastal Take Over Classes; Hopes For 'Fairer Hearing' From Trump Administration (Jan. 23, 2017)
- Charlotte Law School Reopens: 33% Of Students Have Transferred, Prof Says 42% Bar Pass Rate Would Have Been In 20s But For Payments To Students Not To Take Bar (Jan. 25, 2017)
- The Law School That Crumbled: Triumph Or Tragedy? (Jan. 26, 2017)