Some law school graduates who do not pass the bar exam after two attempts could be in line for refunds, according to a report from The National Law Journal. They would only qualify for the refund if they took part in rigorous prep classes prior to the tests. There are two schools tinkering with this idea right now. They are Florida Coastal School of Law and The Charlotte School of Law.
Florida Coastal School of Law is going to offer the same refund to students who are dismissed for academic reasons after their first year. On top of that, $2,000 will be refunded to students who fail to obtain an externship, clinical experiences, or a clerkship.
A program launched by The Charlotte School of Law will refund $10,000 to law grads who have failed the exam at least two times. Both of these schools are operated by InfiLaw Inc., which also owns the Phoenix School of Law.
The program is called the Assured Outcomes Partnership. According to the dean of Florida Coastal, Peter Goplerud, the idea is to make assure students and prospective applicants that their professors will do everything in their power to prepare them for the bar and their careers.
“The key is that this is a partnership. It’s join accountability,” Goplerud said. “If students complete the requirements we’ve set out, we aren’t going to write any checks.”
The refund program at Florida covers three areas: academic performance, bar passage and work experience gained while in law school.
“Law school is not for everyone,” says the description of the program on the school’s website. “If, after the first year, a student is academically dismissed despite adhering to all Assured Outcomes Partnership terms and conditions, he or she will receive $10,000 from Florida Coastal School of Law, which we recommend be used to defray any student loans incurred.”
Tuition for full-time students at Florida Coastal costs $37,000 per year.
The refund at Charlotte is for graduates who fail either the North Carolina or South Carolina bar programs twice.
“It’s a safety net of a certain type,” said Daniel Piar, associate dean for academics at Charlotte Law. “If you do [the bar exam preparation requirements] and you’re still not successful, something is wrong.”
Goplerud also said, “We hope to achieve a cohort of gradates that have taken full advantage of what we believe is a very strong offering of support mechanisms. We want to ensure our students have the work experience they need to have successful careers.”
Piar noted, “Law student these days, I think, have becoming increasingly more selective and savvier consumers, and they’re looking more at things like outcomes. So I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more schools launch these types of programs in the future.”