Law Schools

Arizona Summit loses accreditation approval, which may be a first for an operating law school

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Accreditation approval has been withdrawn for Arizona Summit Law School, the council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar announced last week.

This may be the first time that approval of an operating law school has been involuntarily revoked by the council. Arizona Summit, an InfiLaw school, was placed on probation in March 2017. According to the decision, the for-profit school was out of compliance with standards involving academic standards and admissions.

In May 2018, Arizona Summit was the third InfiLaw school to sue the ABA over accreditation findings, arguing that it’s due process rights were violated.

“The ABA accreditation process provides meaningful opportunities for a law school to establish that it is operating in compliance with the accreditation standards. When the Council or the Accreditation Committee concludes that a law school is operating out of compliance with a standard, the school is given time to act and demonstrate that it is back in compliance. If a school does not demonstrate compliance, the Council and the Accreditation Committee follow an established process, which can lead to sanctions such as probation or the removal of approval,” Barry Currier, the ABA’s managing director of accreditation and legal education, wrote in a statement posted on the section’s website.

Donald Lively, the law school’s president, says he plans to appeal the decision.

“We made the changes required but, as everyone knows, it takes more than two years for the change to register on first-time bar pass results. My sense is Summit is being punished for some past shortcomings rather than present realities, pursuant to a selective focus on a particular point in time instead of the school’s entire body of work,” he told ABAJournal.com in an email.

While the law school has not been found out of compliance regarding bar passage rates, which fall under Standard 316, it was found out of compliance with Standards 501(b) and Interpretations 501-1 and 501-2, which detail the requirement that law schools should admit only students who appear capable of finishing the program and passing a bar exam.

According to the law school’s 509 Report for 2017, its median LSAT score is 148, and its median undergraduate GPA is 2.81. Out of 199 students for the 2016-17 academic year, 71 left through non-transfer attrition. Arizona Summit’s bar pass rate for July 2017 was 20.1 percent, according to data released by the Arizona Supreme Court, and its February 2018 pass rate was 19.8 percent.

Full-tiime tuition at the law school is $45,354 and part-time tuition is $36,692 for the 2017-18 academic year, according to its website.

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