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Arizona Summit Law School Placed on Probation
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Arizona Summit

Summary: The American Bar Association has placed Arizona Summit Law School on probation after their bar-passage rate dropped to 25 percent.

Once at a glorious 97 percent bar-passage rate, Arizona Summit Law School has dropped to only a 25 percent passage rate. The American Bar Association has stepped in to place the school on probation until they can get things figured out. The ABA is also not pleased with the school’s admission policies.

  
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The private law school, formerly known as Phoenix School of Law, is located in downtown Phoenix and founded just a few years ago in 2004. They are owned and operated by for-profit company InfiLaw Corp. InfiLaw also has law schools in Florida and North Carolina.

They prided themselves on having a 97 percent passage rate for first-time bar takers but that number has dropped to just 25 percent. Now they must come up with an improvement plan by May 15. The ABA will send a representative to review Arizona Summit’s admissions methodology and data in addition to the overall program curriculum. They will come back to review the school’s progress in November.

The ABA stated that Arizona Summit is out of compliance related to admission practices, support and bar passage, and academic standards. They also explained that “only immediate and substantial action can bring about sufficient change to put the Law School on a realistic path back to being in compliance within the time allowed.”

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In 2008, Arizona Summit saw the peak in their bar passage rate at 97 percent. By July 2014, it had dropped to 55 percent and just another two years later had plummeted down to 25 percent. Since the exam is scheduled twice a year, February’s results won’t be available until May 12.

In order to meet bar passage requirements set by the ABA, a school must have at least 75 percent of their graduates pass the bar within five years of graduation or the school must have a 75 percent passage rate for at least three of the five years.



School president Donald Lively simply said of their problem, “I can say that we will continue to be taking the steps required by the ABA to demonstrate full compliance with its standards.” Other school officials noted that the school has been making changes to improve their bar passage numbers, including an affiliation with non-profit university Bethune-Cookman. They hope the relationship with help allowing their students to use the university’s academic support services and marketing.

Arizona Summit’s sister school, Charlotte School of Law, has been put on probation, starting last year, for two years over low bar-passage rates. The U.S. Department of Education removed Charlotte’s eligibility for students to use federal student loans.

InfiLaw started the schools in order to increase diversity in the legal profession. Arizona Summit has won awards for having a diverse student population, currently at about 43 percent minorities. School officials claim that many of their students come to them from poor families and are in a “catch-up mode.” Critics believe Arizona Summit has admitted too many students. They had as many as 1,000 students with many admitted with lower Law School Admission Test scores.

School officials explained that the lower admission standards and a change in curriculum attributed to fewer students passing on their first try. Some of the measures they have taken to improve scores including shrinking the student body to 300 and assigning faculty mentors to students.

There are two other law schools in Arizona. When comparing Arizona Summit’s admission standards to Arizona State University and the University of Arizona, their standards are significantly lower. Arizona Summit has an average GPA of their incoming students of 2.96 whereas ASU has 3.64 and the US have 3.57. The median LSAT score is 143 at Arizona Summit. The average at ASU and UA is 161.

Do you think the InfiLaw schools should be shut down? Tell us why in the comments below.

To learn more about InfiLaw, read these articles:

Photo: commons.wikimedia.org

 

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