Arizona Summit, NC Central Receive ABA Warnings Of Noncompliance

The American Bar Association has warned two more law schools that they are not in compliance with accreditation standards.

Arizona Summit Law School, which is already on probation, and North Carolina Central University School of Law both received letters from the ABA in January directing them to submit reports and appear before the ABA’s accreditation committee in the coming year.


Arizona Summit Law School

Arizona Summit received a noncompliance letter from the ABA on January 4 stating it is out of compliance with standards relating to financial stability. 

The ABA found Arizona Summit to be noncompliant with Standard 202(a), which mandates that an accredited law school’s current and anticipated financial resources must be sufficient for the school to operate in compliance with other ABA standards and carry out its educational programming.

Arizona Summit must submit a report to the ABA by Feb. 1 and appear before the ABA’s accreditation committee at its March meeting. The law school is currently working towards compliance. 

“Last week, we completed a second multimillion dollar capital raise to solidify the school’s financial position,” Donald Lively, president of Arizona Summit, told the ABA Journal. “We also have reduced cost structure commensurate with plans to maintain a substantially downsized school. Shortly, we will be notifying the ABA of these developments with an updated report.”

The noncompliance letter is the latest warning Arizona Summit has received from the ABA. In March 2017, the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar placed Arizona Summit on probation for failing to meet a number of accreditation standards — including poor bar passage rates.

The median LSAT score for entering law students is 148, and the median undergraduate GPA is 2.81, according to Arizona Summit’s 2017 509 Information Report. Arizona Summit’s bar pass rates for first-time test takers was 26 percent for the July 2017 Arizona Bar Exam.

Arizona Summit is one of three law schools owned by Infilaw. Infilaw’s Florida Coastal School of Law was warned by the ABA in October that it was significantly out of compliance with the ABA standards relating to academic support, admissions practices and bar exam performance. 

The third Infilaw school, Charlotte School of Law, was placed on probation in November 2016 and closed last August after the U.S. Department of Education rescinded Title IV access to federal financial aid.

Amid concerns that a similar fate awaits Arizona Summit, the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education voted to require the law school to post a $1.5 million surety bond to guarantee students would be repaid should the school close.

Some schools, such as non-accredited colleges, are automatically required to post a surety bond when they are licensed in Arizona, but Arizona Summit does not fall into that category. The state of Arizona has a Student Tuition Recovery Fund, but the fund would be depleted if Arizona Summit were to close, The Arizona Republic reported.


North Carolina Central University School of Law 

The ABA also found NCCU School of Law to be out of compliance with Standard 501(b) which states that law school should only admit applicants who appear capable of completing the J.D. program and passing the bar exam. The law school is also in violation of the Interpretation 501-1, which lists factors to consider when determining compliance, like admission credentials, attrition rates and bar passage rates.

According to the NCCU School of Law’s most recent Standard 509 information Report, the school’s median LSAT score is 145 and median undergraduate GPA is 3.22. In 2017, 75 people transferred to other law schools. Fifty-six percent of first-time test takers passed the July 2017 North Carolina Bar Exam.

“NCCU remains dedicated to the School of Law and its mission of providing a high-quality legal education while preparing citizens of North Carolina and beyond for service and leadership in the legal profession. We will continue our commitment of critical resources, including human capital and financial support, to ensure the school of law remains in compliance with the American Bar Association standards,” Dr. Johnson O. Akinleye, the university’s chancellor, said in the statement.

The law school must submit a report to the ABA Section of Legal Education by Feb. 1 and appear before the accreditation committee in June.


Appalachian School of Law

The ABA accreditation committee found that Appalachian Law was not in compliance with several standard in May 2017, including Standards 501(a) and (b), Standard 301(a), which deals with legal education programs, and 502(d), which requires law school to have students official transcripts on file and verified. 

The December 2017 accreditation committee ruled that Appalachian Law must submit a reliable plan to the Legal Education Section and submit admissions data and policy for the fall 2018 entering class by Jan. 19. The decision may be appealed. 


Related articles:

Florida Coastal, Atlanta's John Marshall receive warnings from the ABA about bar exam performance

Valparaiso suspends admissions, will likely close

Thomas Jefferson placed on probation


Tyler Roberts is an editor for The National Jurist. You can follow him on Twitter at @wtylrroberts