TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Under Pressure From Feds, ABA Cracks Down On Four Law Schools (Arizona Summit, Ave Maria, Charlotte, Valparaiso)

ABA Section On Legal Education (2016)Inside Higher Ed, ABA Cracks Down on Low Performing Law School in Wake of Criticism from Feds:

During the last year, the American Bar Association has cracked down on four law schools [Arizona Summit, Ave Maria, Charlotte, Valparaiso] — two of which are for-profits.

A tightened job market for law school graduates has helped draw the ABA's attention to some of the lowest-performing institutions it accredits. Less academically prepared students, who are gaining easy access to these law schools, face large student debt loads and slim chances of finding employment, according to experts.

For instance, last week the ABA sanctioned Arizona Summit Law School and placed the institution on probation for its admission policies and low pass rates on the bar exam. The law school is one of three institutions owned by Infilaw System. Another Infilaw institution, the for-profit Charlotte School of Law in North Carolina, was placed on probation in November and lost its federal student aid eligibility in January. ...

But the ABA’s recent efforts to hold low-performing schools accountable haven’t affected only the for-profit sector. In August the ABA found Ave Maria School of Law in Florida — a private Roman Catholic institution — out of compliance with admission standards. And in November the ABA censured Valparaiso University School of Law in Indiana, citing the institution for a lack of compliance with standards requiring that a school only admit applicants who appear likely to succeed in the program and pass the bar. It was the first time since 2013 that the accreditor censured a law school.

Pressure, especially from the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, a federal panel that oversees accreditors, has been building on the ABA to hold more of its schools accountable as the post-law school job market worsens and students face mounting loads of debt. 

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