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The Law School Scam Continues

In most cases in life, there is a bad apple in every bunch. Among law schools, it appears that Infilaw is that bad apple. If you’re not familiar, Infilaw is a subsidiary of Sterling Partners, a Chicago-based private equity firm. Infilaw owns and controls three for-profit law schools that are notorious for accepting anyone and feeding on federal loans that will most likely never be paid back.
In a fantastic report from last fall, Paul Campos outlined in The Atlantic how Florida Coastal, Charlotte, and Arizona Summit law schools are scamming students. Specifically, the schools have started slashing already lax admissions requirements to accept more students.
The article focused on how a 2012 dean candidate at Florida Coastal, David Frakt had his interview presentation cut short when he suggested strengthening admissions standards. The report says Frakt said unless admissions standards were strengthened, the school would experience “catastrophic bar passage results.”
Frakt could have been a law school prophet. It’s now 2015 and the first class of students admitted after the 2012 admissions standard reductions have taken the bar. And the results speak for themselves. Florida Coastal’s bar passage rates dropped from 76% to 59%. Charlotte declined form 78% to 47%. Arizona Summit plummeted from 75% to 30.6%.
Of course, this is very bad for the students. Campos reports the schools have since dropped their admissions standards even more so it’s now almost “open enrollment.” Simply put, the schools are admitting students who have very little chance of ever passing the bar exam and becoming actual lawyers. They’re essentially taking hundreds of thousands of dollars from students and giving them an education they’ll never use.
But it’s not just the students losing out. Any student at an American Bar Association-accredited school can receive federal loans for all of their tuition. Each Infilaw school is ABA-accredited. Translation: Unpaid loans will also fall on taxpayers.
The solution seems simple. If these schools are going to continue to admit students at high risk of failing the bar, they should lose accreditation and therefore access to federal loans. Except it’s nearly impossible to lose ABA-accreditation for low bar passage rates. A school must have bar passage rates 15 percentage points lower than it’s state average for three out of five years. But each school’s passage rate is figured in the state average. So technically, a school could bring down the state average enough to never fall below it for more than three out of five years.
Unless the ABA changes accreditation standards, this is going to fall on the federal government to figure out a different loan system. Otherwise Arizona Summit is going to continue to take student’s federal loan money and pump out three out of 10 students each year who will actually become lawyers.
Source: The Atlantic