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Arizona Summit Posts Improved Bar Exam Passage Rate
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Arizona Summit Law School

Summary: From the February bar exam in Arizona, private law school Arizona Summit improved their school passage rate to 30 percent from 25 percent for first-time test takers.

Arizona Summit Law School has made big changes to their program in response to being placed on probation by the American Bar Association. The private law school in Phoenix has already seen their bar passage rate improve but it may not be enough. They have yet to see their numbers get above 30 percent.

  
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Last year the school had only 25 percent of its first-time test takers pass the bar exam. The latest round increased to 30 percent, which is a big improvement for such a short amount of time. They had 88 first-timers take the exam a few months ago and 26 passed. Arizona State University law school and the University of Arizona law school were able to obtain 74 percent passage rates.

Of those taking the exam a second time, the passage rate could use some help at 17 percent. UA has 53 percent passing while ASU has just slightly lower at 46 percent. The bar exam is offered in February and again in July in Arizona.

Interim Dean Penny Willrich said, “We are comfortable that Bar examination results will continue to improve and revert to previous levels of excellence.” The school once had rates as high as 97 percent but that number has steadily declined in recent years.

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The school was placed on probation in March for admission practices, State Bar exam passage rates, and academic standards that were out of compliance. The warning by the ABA stated “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.” What has Arizona Summit done to get improvements? One of the first steps the school did was reduce its admission numbers and end a controversial program allowing students with lower Law School Admission Test results to be accepted upon completion of a pre-enrollment program. In the past 18 months, the school has worked to develop an improvement plan to completely revamp the program. School president Donald Lively stated in March, “I can say that we will continue to be taking the steps required by the ABA to demonstrate full compliance with its standards.”

The ABA will review the school’s progress in November so they have another bar exam in July to produce even better numbers.



Arizona Summit is part of the InfiLaw Corp with two other schools in Florida and North Carolina. The North Carolina school, Charlotte School of Law, had been put on probation the last year to continue for two years over concerns regarding their exam passage rates. The school lost its eligibility to receive federal student loans in December by the U.S. Department of Education.

InfiLaw was founded over a decade ago with the goal of diversifying the legal profession and they accomplished that. Arizona Summit has won awards for its diverse student body, with roughly 43 percent minorities. However, the school claims that many of their students come to them already behind because they are from poor families that lacked access to quality education systems. Others think the school has admitted too many students, reaching up to 1,000 students, many with lower LSAT scores.

One second-year law student at Arizona Summit told The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com that she knew the school had bad passage rates when the enrolled. Myra Edwards said, “That was a concern for me. But my mom was like, ‘Well, if you study hard and you do what you’re supposed to do, you should pass regardless of what school you go to.’”

What do you think is the biggest factor in whether students pass the test? Quality of professors, overall program, classes offered, study help, etc? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about Arizona Summit, read these articles:

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