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NCCU Law Plans to Reduce Class Sizes
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NCCU

Summary: NCCU Law will reduce their first-year class sizes plus other changes in order to address the ABA’s concerns over their admission standards.

North Carolina Central University School of Law has developed a plan to try and save the school from more severe consequences from the American Bar Association. The ABA accrediting committee sent a request to the school for an update on their compliance issues before February 1.

  
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Chancellor Johnson Akinleye explained to an alumni group on Saturday that the school plans to reduce their first-year law school enrollment while they look at their admission standards. The school will also hold a university-commissioned review into the law school to “look at everything we do,” which includes admission standards, faculty preparedness, curriculum, and leadership.

Akinleye noted that the school will still try to give applicants a chance that do not have the strongest test scores or undergraduate grades. He said, “That tradition and that legacy has not changed. And it will continue. This is what we are all invested in.” NCCU Law prides itself on being a “school of opportunity.”

The school will submit their formal response to the ABA. The response will address their admission standards that make it so they “only admit applicants who appear capable of satisfactorily completing [a] program of legal education and being admitted to the bar.”

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NCCU Law has a problem with their first-year rates. Nearly 38 percent of the 2016-17 students did not last to their second year. The law school also has a low passing rate on their state bar exam.

The ABA has been cracking down on law schools with low admission standards after issues arose leading up to the closure of for-profit Charlotte School of Law. NCCU assistant dean of law school admissions Kyle Brazile said, as reported by the Herald Sun, that law schools are facing intense scrutiny for things like their washout rates. He said that if the rate is over 20 percent, it appears that “you’re not doing something right.”



“A lot of the questions we’re getting is us trying to justify to them that we’re not being predatory” by accepting students with little chance of success just “for the sake that we need people in the seats and we need a line item in the budget,” Brazile said to the alumni.

The school historically and consciously gives chances to first-generation, rural, and minority students plus others that have had to overcome barriers. NCCU Law contends that they are not selecting students that have no chance of making it through law school or passing the bar exam. Brazile said, “that’s not what we’ve done and that’s not what we’ve ever done.”

However, they admit that they may not have adjusted “correctly for market forces” for the last few years as schools fight for the best students. The number of students taking the Law School Admission Test has dropped 16 percent since 2011. The number of applicants to NCCU Law has dropped by 41 percent during the same time.

The school acknowledges that they will need to “get tougher in our reviews” of students in the bottom ranges of grades and test scores. Admission officers will use interviews as an opportunity to get to know a student better and determine if their grades and test scores are a proper representation of their desire and ability to succeed. He added that it is “more art than science” when judging applications. Even good grades and test scores can hide poor writing skills, an easy major, or “fluffed” qualifications.

NCCU Law finds that the best way to address the issues is to shrink the class size. The school has been shrinking its numbers slowly for the past several years. In 2017, the school admitted 186 first-year students. Back in 2012 and 2013, the school was admitting 245 students.

Interim Provost Carlton Wilson will have “three deans” conduct the outside review. Two will be from out of state. They will visit the campus next month to talk with alumni, staff, faculty, and students.

Do you think shrinking class sizes is enough to address NCCU Law’s compliance issues? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about other law schools that have shrunk their class sizes, read these articles:

Photo: it.wikipedia.org



 

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