Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

ABA Revokes Thomas Jefferson's Accreditation; Law School Plans To Appeal 'Capricious' Decision

Thomas Jefferson Logo (2015)ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, Withdrawal of Approval: Thomas Jefferson School of Law:

The Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association (the “Council”), at its meeting on May 16-18, 2019, considered the status of Thomas Jefferson School of Law (the “Law School”) and determined to withdraw the approval of the Law School, located at 701 B Street, San Diego, California. The Council’s May 2019 determination follows its finding of continuing noncompliance with Standards 202(a) and (d), 301(a), and 501(b) and Interpretations 501-1 and 501-2.

The Law School has a right to appeal this decision to the Appeals Panel pursuant to Rules 3, 14, and 30 through 36 of the Rules of Procedure. The appeal must be filed no later than July 10, 2019.

The withdrawal of approval will not be effective until the later of either: (i) the expiration of the Law School’s time to appeal this decision, as outlined above; or (ii) should the Law School appeal, the date on which the Appeals Panel decision on the Law School’s appeal is transmitted to the Law School if the Council’s decision is affirmed.

The Law School has been directed to file a teach-out plan pursuant to Rule 29 within 10 business days of the posting of this notice. If the Law School reports to the Managing Director within that 10- day period its intention to appeal the decision, the direction to file the teach-out plan will be stayed until further direction is given to the Law School.

The Council Decision Letter requires the Law School to publish this notice or a link to this notice on its website in a form and place acceptable to the Managing Director. This statement is also being published on the website of the Section of the Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.

This public memorandum is being issued pursuant to Rule 48(b)(6) of the Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools.

Thomas Jefferson Law School Statement Regarding Council Decision:

The Thomas Jefferson School of Law was notified on June 10, 2019 of the determination by the ABA Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar to remove the Law School from the list of ABA-approved schools.

The Council concluded the Law School remains out of compliance regarding financial resources including sufficient resources for adequate faculty and staff, the program of legal education, and admissions policies. The Law School is disappointed by this capricious decision and strongly disagrees with the Council’s findings.

The Law School has taken concrete and significant steps in response to the Council’s concerns, and has fundamentally changed, transforming into a smaller, stronger school:

* changing its financial situation to eliminate debt and drastically reduce expenses, while preserving critical faculty and staff functions that benefit students including:

  1. Eliminating $42 million in debt
  2. Moving – in a very short period of time – to a more favorable and affordable downtown location, with our own attractive and very functional campus
  3. Being relieved of a $3.1 million letter of credit by the Department of Education because of our improved financial situation
  4.  Ensuring a smaller faculty and staff can provide an excellent legal education and student services to a smaller student body by carefully managing our finances

* improving its admissions practices and recruiting strategies with positive results, even while on probation, including:

  1. Improving the LSAT profile of our entering students dramatically from Fall 2016 to Fall 2018, raising our 25th and 50th LSAT by 4 points and our 75th LSAT by 2 points & continuing to recruit an even stronger class for Fall 2019 while continuing to attract a diverse student body
  2. Decreasing academic attrition and improving projections of bar pass

* enriching its rigorous program of legal education, academic support, and bar preparation including:

  1. Revising our curriculum, following best practices to provide more effective academic support and bar preparation to students from day one
  2. Entering into an integrated agreement with the leading bar-preparation company.

The Law School plans to appeal the Council’s decision. During the time of the appeals process, which is anticipated to extend through the fall it is important to note the Law School will remain on the list of ABA-accredited law schools. Thomas Jefferson School of Law will continue to make every effort to ensure an excellent legal education for its students. According to the ABA, a student who starts at an ABA-accredited law school will be deemed to graduate from an ABA-accredited law school.

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