Law Schools

ABA puts Arizona Summit School of Law on probation

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Arizona Summit

Corrected: Arizona Summit School of Law, which is part of the for-profit InfiLaw System, received notification Monday that it has been put on probation by the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. It follows a November 2016 ABA decision that put Charlotte School of Law, another InfiLaw school, on probation.

Arizona Summit was found to be out of compliance with ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools (PDF) 301(a), 308(a) and 309(b), as well as various sections of Standard 501 (PDF), according to the council decision (PDF).

“The council determined that the law school’s admissions practices, academic program…and outcomes…have resulted in the law school now being in a position where only immediate and substantial action can bring about sufficient change to put the law school on a realistic path back to being in compliance within the time allowed by the Standards and Rules of Procedure,” the document reads.

Among its graduates who took the Arizona state bar for the first time in July 2016, there was a 24.6 percent pass rate, according to information (PDF) released by the state supreme court.

Required remedial actions listed in the document include the law school providing the section admissions data and methodology for the spring and summer 2017 classes, and reporting Arizona bar exam results within five days of receiving them. Further hearings with the section’s accreditation committee will take place in September 2017, according to the document, and with its council in November 2017, to review the law school’s progress.

In March, the law school announced that it would sign an affiliation agreement with Bethune-Cookman University, a nonprofit, historically black college in Florida. Donald Lively, the president of Arizona Summit, was not available for comment at press time. Bethune-Cookman told the ABA Journal that the school had no comment on the matter.

Also, the section announced Monday that a teach-out plan for Charlotte School of Law, which is currently on probation for not meeting various standards, has been deferred. The school remains on probation.

In December, the U.S. Department of Education announced plans to cut Direct Loan funds to Charlotte School of Law students after a finding that the school made substantial misrepresentations to current and prospective students regarding its compliance with ABA accreditation standards. The department terminated the law school’s participation in the loan program Dec. 31.

But in a recent Department of Education letter that a Charlotte School of Law spokeswoman says former dean Jay Conison shared with Legal Ed, it appears that the agency “provided a pathway” for some law students to have access to second or subsequent federal loan disbursements, according to a March 27 letter (PDF) the section sent Charlotte School of Law President Chidi Ogene and Interim Dean D. Scott Broyles. “In light of the above, it is not clear that the council must review and act on a teach-out plan at the present time,” the letter reads.

Broyles declined to comment to the ABA Journal. R. Lee Robertson Jr., president of the school’s alumni association, told the ABA Journal that the loans released were a continuation of the loans that were guaranteed at the beginning of the year.

“The alumni association is thrilled that the ABA has delayed its vote on the teach-out plan. We are confident that under Dean Broyles’ leadership, the law school can restore the confidence in its admissions standards and return its focus to educating its students to make a difference in their communities,” said Robertson, who practices in Charlotte.

Updated at 9:52 p.m. to note that a Charlotte School of Law spokeswoman said that it was Conison who shared the Department of Education letter with the section. Updated at 5:26 p.m. to report on the section’s deferral of Charlotte School of Law’s teach-out plan and at 5:43 p.m. to note that Broyles declined to comment.

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