TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

NY Times Op-Ed:  How To Con Black Law Students

ASBCNew York Times op-ed: How to Con Black Law Students: A Case Study, by Elie Mystal (Above the Law):

This month, Bethune-Cookman, a historically black university in Daytona Beach, Fla., announced an “affiliation” deal with Arizona Summit Law School, a for-profit institution in Phoenix. A joint scholarship program will send Bethune-Cookman students and students from other historically black colleges to the law school. Other programs, including intensive LSAT prep classes, have been announced as part of the deal.

Bethune-Cookman doesn’t have a law school, so it makes sense that it would want to partner with an accredited institution. But there’s a problem: Arizona Summit, formerly known as the Phoenix School of Law, may be accredited, but only 25 percent of its graduates passed the Arizona bar exam on their first try last year.

Arizona Summit can’t blame the aptitude of its students for its low bar passage rate. The median LSAT score at Arizona Summit is 143, which is on the low end, but about the same as the median score at Florida A&M University College of Law. Still, over half of Florida A&M law school graduates passed the Florida bar last summer. And Florida A&M charges about $14,000 in yearly in-state tuition, a fraction of the cost of Arizona Summit, which charges about $45,000 in tuition and fees per year. That doesn’t include the cost for Bethune-Cookman students to move from Florida to Phoenix. ...

[E]ncouraging African-American students to attend Arizona Summit will not help them achieve their goals. It will hobble them. Going to a law school that doesn’t prepare most of its students to pass the bar is not an “opportunity,” unless “opportunity” means being saddled with debt that you’ll spend the rest of your life trying to pay back. ...

The best thing any historically black college could do to “disrupt” exclusionary legacies in legal education would be to arm its students with the very information from which they have been excluded, information that would help them get into good schools — or at least keep them out of predatory ones. Anything less is a hustle.

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