Arizona Summit Law School
|Arizona Summit Law School|
|Parent school||InfiLaw System|
|School type||For profit|
|Dean||Jay Conison, formerly Shirley May-Day|
|Location||Phoenix, Arizona, USA
|Faculty||18 full time 40 adjunct|
|Bar pass rate||24.6%|
The Arizona Summit Law School, known until 2013 as the Phoenix School of Law, is a for-profit law school located in Phoenix, Arizona. Founded in 2005 and accredited by the American Bar Association in 2010. SummitLaw is part of the InfiLaw System of independent, for-profit law schools, which includes Florida Coastal School of Law and Charlotte School of Law, owned by Sterling Partners.
According to Arizona Summit's 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 35.3% of the Class of 2015 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation, excluding solo practitioners. In 2017, Arizona Summit was given a “zone” rating by the Department of Education, meaning the school is close to not meeting gainful employment standards. The school must pass the gainful employment standard in one of the next four years to remain in good standing.
On March 27, 2017, Arizona Summit Law school was placed on probation by the ABA. The ABA declared that Arizona Summit was out of compliance with rules regarding admissions practices, academic standards, and support and bar passage. The ABA decision came after Arizona Summit's bar passage rate dropped to an abysmal 25% in July 2016.
According to Arizona Summit's official 2015 ABA-required disclosures, 35.3% of the Class of 2015 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation, excluding solo practitioners. Arizona Summit's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 34.4%, indicating the percentage of the Class of 2015 unemployed, pursuing an additional degree, or working in a non-professional, short-term, or part-time job nine months after graduation.
In 2016, the school has the lowest bar passage rate in Arizona with 24.6% of first time test takers passing compared to 76.8% for Arizona State University and 74% for University of Arizona. The state's total passage rate was 64.3% for first time test takers and 52.9% overall.
The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at Arizona Summit for the 2014-2015 academic year is $64,856. The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $243,864. The median amount of debt for program graduates is $178,263 The school offers controversial conditional scholarships to students that can be reduced or eliminated based on overall grade point average, rather than academic standing. During the 2015-2016 academic year, 73 students had their conditional scholarship reduced or eliminated.
The school is located in the Phelps Dodge Tower, a 20-story building in downtown Phoenix, occupying the eight top floors (13-20), across from CityScape, at One North Central Avenue.
Critics contend that Arizona Summit's admissions process is now close to a fully open enrollment system. Arizona Summit's Fall 2016 entering class had a median GPA of 2.96 and a median LSAT score of 143 (20th percentile of test takers). The 25th percentile of admitted students had a GPA of 2.55 and an LSAT score of 140 (13th percentile of test takers). The school admitted 64.1% of applicants. Last year, the school lost 99 first year students (33% of the class). 41 students failed out of the program, 35 transferred, and 23 left for other reasons.
Arizona Summit claims their mission is based upon three pillars: (1) a student-centered educational experience; (2) supporting programs that allow for professionally prepared graduates; and (3) commitment to underserved communities.
- Clinical Programs: SummitLaw houses a Mediation Clinic and other clinical programs designed to develop and enhance practice skills. Courses are offered in trial and appellate practice, mediation and alternative methods of dispute resolution. Clinical methods are used in various courses throughout the curriculum.
- Externships: SummitLaw offers qualified, upper-level students in good academic standing opportunities to participate in a for-credit externship program. Students attend a classroom component that provides a link between the placement setting and the learning process. A faculty member coordinates and supervises the externship program.
- Mentoring Programs: Each student is assigned a faculty member as their mentor. The faculty member helps to guide the student through their law school experience and form a professional relationship that will carry into their future career.
Nevertheless, legal scholars dispute the for-profit school's mission. Many legal academics contend that Arizona Summit admits students who have little chance of passing the bar or obtaining employment after graduation, in order to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in student loans.
In May 2017, the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education, the state's licensing authority governing for-profit educational institutions, voted to require the law school to post a $1.5 million surety bond, to be potentially paid out to students in the event the school closes down.
- Delta Theta Phi, Law Fraternity, International
- Black Law Student Association
- Jewish Law Students Association
- Phi Alpha Delta, International Law Fraternity- Goldwater Chapter
- Hispanic Law Students Association
- Intellectual Property Law Society
- J. Reuben Clark Law Society
- St. Thomas More Society
- Justice for All
- Juvenile Law Society
- Parents Attending Law School (PALS)
- Public Interest Law Project
- Legal Aid Work for the Protection of Animal Welfare Society (LAWPAWS)
- Student Bar Association
- Night Student Society
- Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA)
- SummitLaw Women's Association
- Federalist Society
- Real Estate Club
- International Law Society
- Moot Court
- Law Review
- Ranked #1 in diversity by Pre-law magazine in 2017. It should be noted, however, that "diversity" in a school known for taking advantage of its students is not necessarily a good thing (in other words, not only does Summit take advantage of students, but it specifically takes advantage of racial and ethnic minorities).
- Ranked #11 on the list of most diverse law schools in the spring 2016 edition of Prelaw Magazine.
- Received the 2015 and 2016 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.
- Named to the 2015 Most Diverse Law School’s List with an A+ rating by the National Jurist magazine.
- Named to the 2013 Most Innovative Law School’s List by National Jurist magazine.
- Named to the 2012 Most Diverse + Most Innovative Law School’s List by National Jurist magazine Most Innovative Programs.
- Awarded Student Diversity Matters Award by Law School Admissions Council in 2010 and 2011.
- In 2009, PhoenixLaw was ranked #8 for the "Most Diverse Faculty" in the Princeton Review's "Best 174 Law Schools Rankings".
- The 2014 edition of Princeton Review's "The Best 169 Law Schools" features Arizona Summit Law School as top ten "Most Chosen by Older Students".
- Students admitted for the Fall of 2014 to Arizona Summit Law School had a median GPA of 2.94 and a median LSAT Score of 144.
- The July 2015 bar passage rate for first time bar takers from Arizona Summit Law School was 30.6%. Out of 144 first time takers, only 44 achieved a passing score on the bar. With those retaking the bar included, the passage rate sinks to 26.4%.
- The February 2016 bar passage rate for first time bar takers from Arizona Summit Law School was 38.1%. Out of 97 first time takers, only 37 achieved a passing score on the bar. With those retaking the bar included, the passage rate sinks to 28.4%.
- Arizona Summit's July 2016 Arizona bar passage rate for first time writers was an abysmal 24.6%. Out of 73 first time test writers, only 18 achieved a passing score. The school's total July 2016 Arizona bar passage rate was 19.7%.
A 2012 report showed that 18% of first-year students at Arizona Summit had transferred to other law schools. This led to a policy in which transfer students were required to meet with an adviser before their transcripts would be released.
In 2013, two professors filed a lawsuit against the school, alleging that they had been fired for objecting to a new policy related to student transfers, among other policy changes. The complaint was subsequently dismissed by District Court. The plaintiffs appealed to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
On March 27, 2017, Arizona Summit was notified by the ABA that the school had been placed on probation. The school was found to be out of compliance with ABA Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools 301(a), 308(a), and 309(b), as well as various sections of Standard 501. The ABA stated "that the law school’s admissions practices, academic program…and outcomes…have resulted in the law school now being in a position where 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 by the Standards and Rules of Procedure.” Arizona Summit became the second InfiLaw school to be placed on probation by the ABA. Charlotte School of Law was placed on probation in November 2016.
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