For-Profit Law Schools – Recent Troubles – Future Opportunities
For-profit law schools, by their very nature, present a dichotomy. On the one hand, a law school should always have the best interest of their students in mind when making any decisions related to running the school. Curriculum, professors, facilities should all support the law school’s students in acquiring the best education possible and provide them with the foundation to pass the Bar Exam. But, for-profit law schools are motivated by something more than producing quality Juris Doctorate candidates. They are motivated by profits and all too often the quest to be profitable runs contrary to the need to prepare students for their future profession.
Choosing the right law school can be challenging for many prospective law school students. Having recently completed a Bachelor’s Degree program and armed with LSAT scores, a potential future lawyer will often apply to a number of law schools in order to improve their chances of being accepted. Because of fierce competition in upper tier law schools, many students are forced to consider other options. Many law school candidates face other challenges and need to seek out a non-traditional law school to accommodate their lifestyle.
These students often turn to for-profit law schools.
What is a For-Profit Law School?
A for-profit law school is a private institution that is generally owned by a private business entity. The school operates as a business and the product it sells is legal education. Usually, the stated goal of these schools is to provide a quality legal education to law students preparing them to pass the bar exam and enter the practice of law. If the school meets these goals, they effectively educate their students, prepare them for the bar exam and make a profit for the business entity that owns the school. Unfortunately, when faced with decisions where education and profit are not aligned, these schools will almost always choose profit.
For-Profit Law Schools – Pros & Cons
For-profit law schools provide some benefit for potential law school students seeking a legal education.
- Lower admission standards. For those students who aren’t able to gain entrance into higher tier law schools, a for-profit law school may be their only option.
- Flexible programs & classes. Many non-traditional law school students have unique requirements of their school schedule. For-profit law schools often work to accommodate these students.
There are drawbacks of for-profit law schools as well.
- They are generally very expensive. For-profit law schools structure their tuition programs around Federal Financial Aid, knowing their students are often eligible and can often secure Aid with a simple signature.
- Inadequate preparation for the Bar Exam. For-profit law schools are profit driven businesses and often allow the quest for profitability to overshadow the investment needed to create a sound educational environment.
InfiLaw Incorporated & For-Profit Law Schools
InfiLaw owns three for-profit law schools: The Charlotte School of Law (CSL), Arizona Summit and Florida Coastal School of Law. CSL has been embroiled in controversy for the last several months due to:
- Their inability to properly prepare students for the bar exam and low bar exam pass rates
- American Bar Association (ABA) Probation for compliance issues tied to admission policies and practices
- Loss of Federal Student LoansExtremely poor communication with their student body on the condition of the school and their standing with the ABA and the United States Department of Education (USDOE)
- Extremely poor communication with their student body on the condition of the school and their standing with the ABA and the United States Department of Education (USDOE)
The latest of InfiLaw’ s three for-profit law schools to come under scrutiny from both the American Bar Association (ABA) and the Federal Government is Arizona Summit. The school was recently penalized by the ABA, as the ABA’s Accreditation Committee found the school in violation of five of its law school standards. The school did not contest those findings. It is unclear as to what steps the U.S. Department of Education will take in light of the ABA’s probationary penalty.
In 2010, the USDOE adopted a standard that is meant to strengthen the federal student aid program. To meet the requirements, a graduate’s student loan payments should be 12% or less of their annual post-graduate earnings. Graduates of several InfiLaw’s for-profit law schools have debt-to-income ratios of 21% or more.
Relief Sought for CSL Students
On December 22, 2016, Bailey Javins & Carter (BJC) filed a lawsuit on behalf of four CSL students accusing the CSL, its owners, managers, and the U.S. Department of Education of breach of contract for failing to comply with both ABA and USDOE standards. BJC’s complaint seeks remedies for students who have, or will have, devalued or incomplete degrees and asks for full student loan forgiveness.
If you have been harmed by CSL, Arizona Summit or any other for-profit law school and need legal assistance, contact Bailey Javins & Carter. Our experienced legal team is eager to help you recover damages and to assist you in protecting your rights. Call us today at (800) 497-0234 or contact us online.