The disruption in legal education shows no signs of abating, as yet another law school implodes while several others find themselves in dire straits.
Concordia University School of Law in Boise, Idaho is facing a murky future after its parent company in Oregon closed doors. This is so even though the school has full ABA accreditation and its graduates have a solid bar exam success rate, with 100 percent of its 2016 class passing the test.
“Concordia University School of Law opened in 2012, and it received full ABA accreditation in February 2019,” reports the ABA Journal. “Its Standard 509 Information Report for 2019 reported a total of 190 students, and its bar passage rate for first-time test-takers in 2018 was 68 percent, according to ABA data. Out of a total of 29 graduates in 2018, 15 had full-time, long-term jobs requiring bar passage.”
Concordia is one of two law schools in Idaho, the other being the University of Idaho College of Law, located six hours away in Moscow. Concordia’s interim dean says the school is talking with various institutions about taking over the law school.
Meanwhile, its students are taking action. The ABA Journal reports: “According to the Oregonian, students plan to file a class action lawsuit against the university, alleging that it has known about declining enrollment and financial issues since 2019 but did not disclose any of that to students until Feb. 10.”
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It’s been a busy news cycle for legal education, and most of the headlines have been bad. Here are three recent stories covered by the ABA Journal:
- The president of Texas Southern University is under fire following an admissions scandal at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law. The TSU Board of Regents has moved to fire Austin Lane, according to news reports here and here. In its termination notice , the board said he “failed to promptly report to the board or internal auditor allegations of fraudulent and dishonest conduct by an assistant law dean,” according to the ABA Journal. “The assistant law dean was accused of taking a $14,000 payoff for facilitating a scholarship and fraudulent admission for a law student. The assistant law dean was also accused of facilitating a fraudulent transfer application for a second student. The assistant law dean has resigned. One of the students was admitted to the university into another graduate program, even though they weren’t qualified, the notice said. According to the notice, the former assistant law dean also provided false LSAT information for submission to the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which accredits law schools.”
- The ABA has approved a teach-out plan for Thomas Jefferson School of Law, allowing limited accreditation until the end of the spring 2023 term. The San Diego law school was placed on probation in November 2017. The council withdrew its ABA approval in 2019. An administrative panel affirmed that decision in November 2019. “Under the teach-out agreement,” the ABA Journal reports, “Thomas Jefferson’s ABA accreditation will cover current law students and transient students. If the law school loses its state license or fails to uphold obligations listed in the teach-out plan, the council retains its authority to remove ABA accreditation before the spring 2023 term ends.”
- “The University of La Verne College of Law in California plans to let go of its ABA accreditation, seeking it instead with the state,” the ABA Journal reports. “Trustees voted in favor of the plan Nov. 18. The school was inspired to consider a change by a new ABA standard requiring at least 75 percent of a law school’s graduates who sat for a bar exam to pass within two years of graduation, a university spokesperson told the ABA Journal in October. The law school’s 2018 first-time bar passage rate was 31.49 percent.”