Law Schools

Two law schools are added to list of universities getting greater federal scrutiny over finances

  • Print.

Updated: Two law schools have been added to a government list of universities that are being watched to make sure federal student aid is being used in a way that is accountable to students and taxpayers.

The law schools are the Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego and the Charleston School of Law in South Carolina, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports. Both schools are subject to the least restrictive “level 1” monitoring, which requires schools to submit records of student-aid disbursements before drawing down the federal funds.

There are 540 colleges and universities on the Dec. 1 list, up from 499 on the list issued three months before. A third law school, Ave Maria School of Law, remains on the list and is also subject to “level 1” monitoring, the National Law Journal (sub. req.) reports.

Charleston School of Law cited money woes and declining enrollment in May when it used buyouts and layoffs to trim staff and faculty. InfiLaw had previously planned to buy the school, but decided against it after opponents claimed the sale would lower the law school’s standards.

Charleston lawyer Ed Bell told the National Law Journal he invested in Charleston School of Law in October and he plans to turn the school into a nonprofit. The school was placed on the list because of 2014 financial issues. Applications are increasing and the school is making prudent financial decisions, said Bell, who is president and managing member of the three-member LLC that owns the school.

Thomas Jefferson school of Law announced a debt restructuring in October 2014 that would reduce its annual cash payments by half.

Dean Thomas Guernsey told the National Law Journal the restructuring created a $50 million-plus paper loss, though it improved the school’s finances. “We’re in the best financial shape we’ve been in in years,” he said.

Ave Maria School of Law Dean Kevin Cieply told the Naples Daily News in April that the school was on the list because it was “a new school, with very few assets, a little bit of debt and not a huge endowment.”

Inside Higher Ed also has a story that links to additional information.

Story updated at 7:35 p.m. to include information from the National Law Journal. Story updated on Jan. 8 to correctly report Bell’s role in Charleston School of Law

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.