ABA approval withdrawn for Thomas Jefferson School of Law
Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego. Photo by Visitor7, via Wikimedia Commons.
ABA approval for Thomas Jefferson School of Law, which was placed on probation in November 2017, has been withdrawn by the council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, according to a memo posted online Monday.
The council of the section reached the decision following its May meeting in Chicago. Linda M. Keller, the law school’s interim dean, in a statement said that they plan to seek an administrative appeal.
When the law school was placed on probation in 2017, it was found to be noncompliant with the following standards:
• Standards 202(a) and (d), which address program resources. Section(a) mandates that a law school have anticipated financial resources, and section (d) states that law schools are not in compliance if “its anticipated financial condition is reasonably expected to have a negative and material effect on the school’s ability to operate in compliance with the standards or to carry out its program of legal education.”
• Standard 301(a), which states that a law school should “maintain a rigorous program” of legal education that prepares students to be admitted to a bar and practice law.
• Standards 501(a) and (b), which focus on admissions. Section (a) requires that law schools have sound admissions policies and practices, and section (b) requires that law schools only admit applicants who appear capable of completing law school and being admitted to practice law.
Also, the 2017 probation decision stated that the law school was noncompliant with Interpretations 501-1 and 501-2, both of which discuss factors to consider in admissions. Interpretation 501-1 states that a law school’s academic attrition rate is a factor to consider when determining if a law school is in compliance with the standard. Interpretation 501-2 states that admissions policies and practices may include consideration of admissions test scores, undergraduate courses and grade-point averages, among other things.
The probation decision followed a May 2017 noncompliance letter from Barry Currier, the ABA’s managing director of accreditation and legal education.
In its June 10 statement, Thomas Jefferson School of Law claimed that it has changed its financial situation to eliminate debt and reduce expenses, by moving to a more affordable location, and being relieved of a $3.1 million letter of credit by the Department of Education, because the law school’s financial situation has improved.
Additionally, the law school has raised its median LSAT between 2016 and 2018, according to the statement, decreased academic attrition and is “continuing to recruit an even stronger class for Fall 2019 while continuing to attract a diverse student body.”
According to the law school’s most recent 509 Report, 326 people were enrolled as of October 2018. The median LSAT score at the law school was 147, and the median undergraduate GPA was 2.80, according to the document. Full-time tuition for the 2018-19 school year was $49,500, according to the law school’s website.
The law school’s 2018 California bar passage rate for was 23.85%, according to ABA data. Comparatively, the California bar passage rate for graduates of ABA-accredited law schools in 2018 was 60.34%.
For 2017, the law school’s California bar passage rate was 26.49%, and in 2016 it was 35.09%, according to ABA data from last year.