Charlotte School of Law

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Charlotte School of Law
Type For-Profit Law School
Established

2006

ABA Provisional Accreditation: 2008 Full ABA Accreditation: 2011

ABA Probation: 11/14/2016
Dean Jay Conison[1]
Academic staff
20+
Students 220
Location Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
Campus Urban
Website http://www.charlottelaw.edu

Charlotte School of Law (Charlotte Law), located in Charlotte, North Carolina, is an independent for-profit college that was established in 2006, provisionally accredited in 2008 and fully accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) in 2011. Charlotte Law is owned by the InfiLaw System which also owns Florida Coastal School of Law and Arizona Summit Law School.

In November 2016, Charlotte School of Law was placed on probation by the ABA, which cited compliance issues tied to the School's admission policies and practices, including admitting applicants "who do not appear capable of satisfactorily completing its educational program and being admitted to the bar".[2] On December 19, 2016, Charlotte School of Law lost its authority from the U.S. Department of Education, effective December 31, 2016, to participate in the Federal Student Loan program. In January 2017 the school started a food bank and go fund me to help students who can not afford housing and groceries. Many students are using Mecklenburg county services and crisis assistance to maintain housing while the school offered them a loan in the amount of $1,000. [3]

On February 7, 2017, the Charlotte School of Law Alumni Association wrote to Dean Jay Conison and President Chidi Ogene demanding their resignations.[4] The Alumni Association noted the falling admission standards, decreasing bar passage rates, and dismal employment prospects for graduates under Conison and Ogene's leadership. In addition, the Alumni Association decried what they deemed the misrepresentations and mismanagement of the administration "motivated first by profit and not the best interests of its students, faculty, and alumni."[5]

More than 150 students and former students have filed lawsuits against Charlotte School of Law alleging fraud, violations of the North Carolina Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and other claims.[6] The students claim that "money ruled, not education. And they left a lot of poor folks holding the bag."[7] Faculty recently laid off by the school are also considering wrongful termination lawsuits.

Campus[edit]

Charlotte School of Law is located at 201 South College Street in Uptown Charlotte. The building contains classrooms, the school's law library, an appellate courtroom, offices, and the school bookstore.

Academics[edit]

Charlotte Law School admitted 64% of applicants during the 2015-2016 application cycle.[8] The Fall 2016 entering class had a median GPA of 2.80 and a median LSAT score of 144 (22nd percentile of LSAT takers).[9] During the 2015-2016 academic year, 130 first year students (36% of the class) failed out of Charlotte Law School.

Charlotte School of Law offers conditional scholarships to certain incoming students. The scholarships require students to maintain a specific GPA rather than remain in good standing. Courses at Charlotte are graded on a curve with a low median GPA.[10] Because conditional scholarship students are placed together in courses with strict grade curves, it is a certainty that a large percentage of students will fail to maintain the required GPA to keep their scholarships. As a result, scholarship students lose their scholarship and must pay tuition to the school in subsequent semesters to continue their studies, allowing the school to increase revenues. During the 2015-2016 academic year, 155 out of 264 (59%) Charlotte School of Law scholarship students had their conditional scholarships reduced or eliminated.[11]

In January of 2017, the school laid off numerous faculty and staff because the Federal government had terminated the school's participation in the Federal student loan program.[12]

Bar Passage[edit]

Only 45.2% of Charlotte School of Law graduates taking the bar exam for the first time, passed the July 2016 North Carolina bar exam.[13] Charlotte graduates performed 20% worse than the North Carolina state average. Since 2010, Charlotte Law School's July bar passage rate has decreased every year. The declining bar passage rate coincided with the school's drop in admission standards to maintain enrollment.[14] In an attempt to bolster the bar passage rate and protect the school's accreditation, the school began paying students in 2014 to delay taking the bar exam.[15]

On January 24, 2017, a secret recording was released of a Charlotte School of Law faculty meeting.[16] Assistant Dean Odessa Alm pushed faculty present at the meeting to advise students to forgo taking the bar exam in exchange for payments of $11,200 from the school. Dean Alm told the faculty, "[y]ou know if we didn't have the extended program last time...our pass rate would have been 20-something percent....didn't you feel so f***ing bad when we had 42 percent pass the bar."[17]

Initiatives[edit]

Charlotte School of Law students can participate in the Moot Court Program. Members of the Charlotte School of Law’s Moot Court Board are selected through an intra-school competition organized and run by students and judged by members of the legal community. The intra-school competition is named after Susie Marshall Sharpe, North Carolina’s first female state Supreme Court Chief Justice.

The Charlotte Law Review, a student-edited scholarly legal journal, publishes two issues yearly, a Spring and a Fall Journal, with plans of publishing its first Symposium Edition. The Law Review accepts manuscripts for consideration from sources both within and outside the Charlotte Law School community.

Student organizations[edit]

  • Student Bar Association - Executive
  • Student Bar Association - Senate
  • Phi Alpha Delta
  • Women in Law
  • CharlotteLaw Cares
  • CharlotteLaw Diversity Alliance
  • LGBT Legal Society
  • Federalist Society
  • Part-Time Student Association
  • International Law Society
  • American Constitution Society
  • Environmental Legal Society
  • Moot Court
  • Law Review
  • CharlotteLaw Republican Society
  • CharlotteLaw Global Poker & Strategic
  • CharlotteLaw Sports & Entertainment
  • Black Law Student Association
  • Real Estate Law Society
  • Order of the Crown (Scholastic Leadership Society)
  • Parents Attending Law School

Employment[edit]

According to Charlotte's official 2015 ABA-required disclosures, 26% of the Class of 2015 obtained full-time, long-term, bar passage required employment nine months after graduation.[18] 24% of graduates were unemployed 9 months after graduation. 2% of graduates worked in non-professional jobs. 34% of graduates were employed in short term or part time jobs. Charlotte's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 37.7%, indicating the percentage of the Class of 2013 unemployed, pursuing an additional degree, or working in a non-professional, short-term, or part-time job nine months after graduation.[19]

ABA Employment Summary for 2015 Graduates[20]
Employment Status Percentage
Employed - Bar Passage Required (Full-Time, Long-Term)
  
26.52%
Employed - Bar Passage Required (Part-Time and/or Short-Term)
  
4.82%
Employed - J.D. Advantage
  
26.75%
Employed - Professional Position
  
11.84%
Employed - Non-Professional Position
  
2.19%
Employed - Law School/University Funded
  
1.54%
Employed - Undeterminable
  
0.0%
Pursuing Graduate Degree Full Time
  
1.54%
Unemployed - Start Date Deferred
  
0.44%
Unemployed - Not Seeking
  
1.54%
Unemployed - Seeking
  
22.37%
Employment Status Unknown
  
0.65%
Total of 456 Graduates

Costs[edit]

The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at Charlotte for the 2013-2014 academic year is $41,000.[21] The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $194,000.

Academic probation and access to Federal student financial aid program[edit]

Effective November 14, 2016, Charlotte School of Law was placed on probation by the American Bar Association (ABA). Charlotte School of Law failed to adhere to the following ABA standards:
Standard 301
(a) A law school shall maintain an educational program that prepares its students for admission to the bar, and effective and responsible participation in the legal profession.


Standard 501

(a) A law school shall maintain sound admission policies and practices, consistent with the objectives of its educational program and the resources available for implementing those objectives.
(b) A law school shall not admit applicants who do not appear capable of satisfactorily completing its educational program and being admitted to the bar.

The ABA required Charlotte School of Law to:

  1. supply its admission methodology,
  2. create a plan to come into compliance with accreditation standards
  3. post on its website and notify all students of its probation, and
  4. notify all students after grades are submitted at the end of each semester the North Carolina and South Carolina bar passage rates of each grading quartile and which quartile the student falls into.[22]

On December 19, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education announced that access to federal student financial aid for the law school would end on December 31, 2016. According to a Department press release, "the Department concluded that CSL’s non-compliance with the fundamental standards set by its accreditor, the American Bar Association (ABA), resulted in its violation of the Higher Education Act, the Department’s regulations, and CSL’s Program Participation Agreement with the Department..." The press release quoted U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell as stating, "The ABA repeatedly found that the Charlotte School of Law does not prepare students for participation in the legal profession. Yet CSL continuously misrepresented itself to current and prospective students as hitting the mark...... CSL’s actions were misleading and dishonest. We can no longer allow them continued access to federal student aid.”[23][24]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 35°13′30″N 80°50′36″W / 35.2249°N 80.8433°W / 35.2249; -80.8433