Florida Coastal, which has 47.7% bar pass rate, out of compliance with ABA accreditation standards
Florida Coastal College of Law. Photo by Waters2100, via Wikimedia Commons
Florida Coastal School of Law is “significantly out of compliance” with various ABA accreditation standards involving program objectives, academic advising and admissions policy, the organization wrote in a letter to the school this month.
The for-profit law school is part of the InfiLaw System. Scott DeVito, Florida Coastal’s dean, told Above the Law that he believes they are compliance with the standards, and he’s writing a response to the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.
DeVito told the ABA Journal on Monday that his school has raised the bottom quartile of its LSAT scores to 145 as of 2017, compared to 141 in 2016.
“We do not have the admission standards for 2017 from other law schools, but we can compare to last year’s published statistics. Based on those statistics, our current incoming credentials are better than 23 other law schools and are on a par with an additional 15 law schools,” he wrote in an email.
The ABA letter (PDF) to Florida Coastal, dated Oct. 12, is signed by Barry Currier, managing director of accreditation and legal education. The standards that the law school is not in compliance with are:
• Standard 301(a), which states that law schools must have a rigorous program to prepare students to pass a bar exam and practice law.
• Standard 309(b), which addresses academic support to give students a “reasonable opportunity” to complete their studies and become lawyers.
• Standard 501, sections (a) and (b). The first part directs that accredited law schools have sound admissions policies, and the second part mandates that people who don’t appear capable of graduating from law school or passing a bar exam should not be admitted as students.
Florida Coastal’s first-time pass rate for the July 2017 Florida bar exam was 47.7 percent (63 out of 132), according to the state’s board of bar examiner’s data.
Its February 2017 bar exam pass rate for the state was 25 percent (12 out of 48) for first-time test takers, and in July 2016 its pass rate for first-time test takers was 51.9 percent, (83 out of 160).
On its 509 Report (PDF) for 2016, the law school reported that its 2015 Florida bar passage rate was 61.56 percent, with a 74.43 reporting percentage. Also, the document states that the law school’s 50th percentile LSAT score was 144, and the median grade point average was 2.87. Out of 302 students, 40 transferred out the prior year.
Two other InfiLaw schools, Charlotte School of Law and Arizona Summit School of Law, are currently on probation by the ABA for noncompliance with academic and admissions standards.
Charlotte School of Law closed in August. That followed the U.S. Department of Education in December pulling its student loan funds after determining that the law school was not honest with current or prospective students about its accreditation issues. The North Carolina attorney general’s office opened civil fraud investigation (PDF) into the school in March..
Arizona Summit submitted its reliable plan to the ABA in in May, according to Penny L. Willrich, the school’s dean. In July 2017, 35 of its graduates took the Arizona bar for the first time, and 9 passed, according to data (PDF) released by the Arizona Supreme Court’s examinations committee. The school’s total pass rate for the exam was 20.1 percent (26 out of 129).