The American Bar Association released a report that says the law school for Florida A&M University in Orlando falls short in the quality of academics it offers. According to the report, close to 30 percent of students who enter the law school do not pass the Florida Bar exam or do not graduate. The report also said that the students who have borrowed money for their law school education leave the school with $96,000 in debt.
The law school ranks dead last amongst the 11 law schools in Florida for students who pass the bar exam on their initial attempt. The Florida Board of Bar Examiners said that just 68 percent of students passed the recent bar exam their first time. This number is compared to 91 percent at the University of Florida and 89 percent at Florida State University.
In January, the Accreditation Committee is scheduled to meet to discuss the accreditation of the law school and the report. The dean of the law school, LeRoy Pernell, said in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel, “The reports are often very helpful in pointing out areas we will need to work on. The accreditation standards are quite extensive and we want to make sure that the [FAMU] law school is doing everything it can to meet those.”
Changes have been made at the school to improve the bar exam data. One change is that students in their first year at the law school must take two courses that teach them how to improve their analytical skills needed to succeed in law school and when taking the bar exam.
Some from the American Bar Association believe that the academic standards for admission to the FAMU law school could be to blame for the bar exam problems. Students admitted to the law school during the 2010-2011 school year, the median GPA was 3.10. This data has been compared to the median GPA for students admitted to the University of Florida law school and the Florida State law school. Those two median GPAs were 3.64 and 3.47 respectively. This data has been compiled by the Law School Admission Council.
“Certainly, it is admitting students who, by numerical predictors at least, could easily be identified as being at risk of either failing to graduate or failing the bar exam,” the report states.
The school as a whole has received major criticism recently for the students it admits. Data from 2010-2011 shows that students entering the school as freshmen earn bachelors’ degrees within four years at a rate of 12 percent.