Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Fifth Tier, For-Profit Charlotte School of Law Closes Its Doors

The News: On August 15, 2017, the New York Times DealBook featured an Elizabeth Olson piece entitled “For-Profit Charlotte School of Law Closes.” Look at this opening:

“Charlotte School of Law, an embattled for-profit law school, has shut down, state officials confirmed — making it the nation’s second accredited law school to close its doors this year. 

Although Charlotte Law did not issue a formal closing notice, its license to operate in North Carolina expired, it had no approved plan to teach students and, as of Tuesday, it no longer had a website. 

The North Carolina attorney general’s office, which has been investigating the law school for several months, confirmed that the school had closed.

“I want to express my disappointment for the students and their families affected by Charlotte School of Law’s failure,” Josh Stein, the attorney general, said in a statement on Tuesday. 

The law school had been hanging on by a thread for months in the face of tumbling enrollment after the American Bar Association’s accreditors put it on probation in November. 

The attorney general’s office has been examining whether Charlotte Law’s students had the required information to enroll for the school’s law degree.

The attorney general’s office notified the federal Education Department that Charlotte Law was no longer licensed to operate in the state. Without a license, “Charlotte School of Law is now required to be closed,” Mr. Stein said in his statement. 

Earlier this year, trustees of Whittier College in California announced the closure of Whittier Law School, the first fully accredited law school to succumb to declines in student enrollments and tuition revenue.

Charlotte Law had struggled with those same problems and more. The A.B.A.’s accrediting body had placed the school on probation after finding its disclosures for students fell short of requirements. Not long after, the federal Education Department cited the school for “substantial misrepresentations” to students about its compliance with accreditation standards.” [Emphasis mine]

Paul Campos did more to bring the law school scam to light than anyone else. He deserves some recognition for his efforts. Frankly, I don’t rejoice in these closures. However, when the “education” costs a king’s ransom – and the job prospects are weak for the vast majority of graduates – it is indefensible. Also, at least this might provide the affected students with a chance to have their loans forgiven – if they are smart enough not to continue their TTTTT studies somewhere else. Plus, as the “professors” are so fond of saying, they can now go out into private practice and make a ton of money. Of course, they will also need to work more than 4-6 hours per week.

Other Coverage: On August 15, 2017, Inside Higher Ed published an Andrew Kreighbaum article headlined “Report: For-Profit Charlotte School of Law Will Close.” Here is the full text:

“The for-profit Charlotte School of Law will close effective immediately, according toan email from the president of the school’s alumni associated published by local media. 

The report comes days after Charlotte missed multiple deadlines set by state regulators to keep its license to operate in North Carolina. And Monday night, WBTV, which reported the school’s closure, cited multiple sources saying the American Bar Association rejected a teach-out plan from Charlotte.

The law school’s website as of Tuesday morning has also been taken down.

The ABA placed Charlotte on probation last year for failing to admit students likely to succeed in the program and pass the bar exam. The Obama administration in December, citing those failures and substantial misrepresentations to students, cut off the school’s access to Title IV aid, which includes federal student loans. And North Carolina’s attorney general, Josh Stein, has meanwhile pursued his own investigation of the school.

The developments over the last week occurred as Charlotte’s leaders negotiated with the Department of Education over conditions to restore the school’s access to Title IV. Among the conditions set out by the department in recent negotiations was a multimillion-dollar letter of credit. Without that letter, taxpayers would be on the hook for discharge of loans taken out by students to attend the school.” [Emphasis mine]

How hard did private equity firm Sterling Partners, and its shareholders, push to save this joke of law school? They didn’t try to pay off some education officials in that state?

You can also check out Old Guy’s account of this TTTTT closure, on his August 14, 2017 entry on Outside the Law School Scam, “Charlotte School of Law has quietly closed.” It appears that the administrators of the law school did not have the decency to contact the students about their decision. Then again, the pupils are mere student loan conduits. I’m sure they had plenty of time to spend with their lobbyist, when he was working to get the spigot back on for them.

Conclusion: This closure surprised me, especially after the diploma mill was granted access to federal student loan money. I figured these “legal scholars” would come up with a line of credit, in order to stay in operation. Hell, plenty of students desperate for a minimal chance to practice law would have jumped at the chance to enroll in such a place. Don’t forget that this law school charged $44,284 in full-time tuition and fees, for the 2016-2017 academic year. I suppose that those funds came too late for this school and their problems were too numerous. Frankly, most of the students will seek to continue their educaTTTTTion somewhere else.

Friday, August 11, 2017

More ABA-Accredited Diploma Mills to Accept GRE as Alternative to LSAT

Let's Admit More People!: On August 10, 2017, the New York Times DealBook featured an Elizabeth Olson piece labeled “More Law Schools Begin Accepting GRE Test Results.” Look at this opening:

“Law schools, which have been plagued by a shortfall of students in recent years, are changing their admissions requirements.

Two top-ranked schools — Georgetown University Law Center and Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law — this week joined Harvard Law’s recent move to make it simpler to apply.

Applicants can submit the results of the more widely available Graduate Record Exam, the GRE, instead of those from the Law School Admissions Test, which long has been entrenched as the numeric gauge of law school success.

Many law schools are casting wider nets to attract students who would not otherwise set their sights on a legal education. The schools hope that by making it easier for the engineers, scientists and mathematicians who typically take only the GRE, more of them will enroll.

With the two this week, there are now four law schools, including the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, that admit students with GRE scores.

“We believe this change will make the admissions process more accessible to students who have great potential to make a mark here at Georgetown Law and in successful legal careers but who might find the LSAT to be a barrier for whatever reason,” said William M. Treanor, the school’s dean.

The changes come as the nation’s lawyers are gathering this week in New York for the annual meeting of the American Bar Association. While the issue of admissions tests is not on the formal agenda, there is likely to be debate in the corridors about whether law schools should be able to use whatever “valid and reliable admission test” they choose — in lieu of the LSAT, which has been administered since 1948.

Arizona was the first law school to defy the decades-old wisdom that the LSAT was the only reliable numerical predictor for how students would fare.

The Law School Admission Council, the nonprofit law school membership organization that is the LSAT’s administrator, reacted harshly at first but later backed away as dozens of deans supported Arizona’s action.

Arizona, Harvard, Georgetown and Northwestern each conducted individual studies that compared their students’ academic results with their entrance test scores. Georgetown said that it found “GRE scores were at least as strong a predictor of academic success at Georgetown Law as LSAT scores.” [Emphasis mine]

Georgetown Univer$ity Law Center consistently fields gigantic first year classes. It also tends to accept a fair amount of transfer students. Graduating cohorts are often contain close to 500 graduates. Plus, Washington D.C. has a predictable glut of attorneys. One wonders how extensive the school’s study was, given that they just accepted the GRE as an alternative to the LSAT.

Other Coverage: On August 8, 2017, Inside Higher Ed published a Scott Jaschik article entitled “Shaking Up Law School Admissions.” Read the following portion:

“Harvard Law School announced in March that it would start to accept the Graduate Record Examination for admissions, not just the traditionally required Law School Admission Test. At the time, only one other law school -- the University of Arizona's -- had such a policy. Many wondered if the move by Harvard, given its stature in legal education, would prompt others to follow.

That question may have been answered Monday, when the law schools of both Georgetown and Northwestern Universities announced that they too would now accept the GRE, a test from the Educational Testing Service. Both Georgetown and Northwestern are highly regarded law schools and have no shortage of applicants.

But even as the announcements give momentum to the test-choice movement, they come at a time when the American Bar Association may clamp down on such experimentation. Currently the ABA requires law schools to either use the LSAT or another test the law school has determined to have "validity" in predicting student success. Arizona, Georgetown, Harvard and Northwestern all say that they have done such studies, and so comply with ABA rules.

The ABA is, however, considering a rules change that would permit law schools to use alternatives to the LSAT only if the ABA has determined the validity of the alternative test -- something the ABA has yet to do with any test besides the LSAT. And many law deans -- including some who have not moved beyond the LSAT -- are angry that the ABA (with backing from the Law School Admission Council, which runs the LSAT) may limit their options going forward.” [Emphasis mine]

If these “educators” are primarily concerned with their students’ futures, then why would they be upset that the ABA may limit alternatives to the LSAT – as a valid admissions entrance exam? Then again, this appears to be a smokescreen. After all, with solid to elite law schools now accepting the GRE, what the hell is to stop low-ranked diploma factories from doing the same thing?

Conclusion: Since the American Bar Association is dominated by Biglaw types and academics, who thinks that the organization will choose to overrule the law schools at Harvard, Northwestern, and Georgetown? Plus, seeing that these particular institutions have no problems enrolling applicants with impressive LSAT scores, how can the ABA decide that the GRE should not be an alternative at places that are struggling to attract applicants? When will these “legal scholars” start admitting those who graduate from college – with a mere one page essay stating why that person wants to be a lawyer?

Sunday, August 6, 2017

ABA Council Approves Proposal to Rescind Transparency Regarding Law School-Funded Positions

TTT News: On August 3, 2017, the TaxProf blog featured an article from Jerry Organ, under the header “Without Any Transparency In The Process, ABA Legal Ed Council Approves Changes To Employment Report And Classification Of Law-School-Funded Positions That Erode Transparency.” Look at this opening:

“At its June 1-2 meeting, the ABA Council for the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved a proposal to completely eviscerate the steps it approved in 2015 to assure greater transparency in reporting law-school-funded positions. Indeed, the Council went even further, changing the rules to make it impossible for anyone to discover what number/percentage of a law school’s graduates are in law-school-funded positions, so long as those positions pay $40,000.

The Council did this with no notice, no chance for comment, and no presentation of possible concerns associated with this change. Rather, it simply approved a proposal purporting to simplify reporting of employment outcomes that was submitted by one Council member, Paul Mahoney, whose law school was among several that would benefit from the reclassification of law-school-funded positions.

More significantly, in approving the proposal, the Council also approved several other changes in reporting of employment outcomes that merit much more discussion. These changes, discussed below, were not meaningfully discussed in the proposal, nor do they appear to have been meaningfully discussed by the Council in approving the proposal. Once again, there was no notice of these changes, no chance for comment, and no presentation of possible concerns associated with these changes.

It pains me to write this, as I hold the members of the Council in high regard and believe the Council has done a very good job over the last several years navigating legal education through uncharted waters, particularly with its emphasis on increased transparency regarding conditional scholarships and employment outcomes.

In this instance, however, the Council’s laudable desire to support simplification in reporting of employment outcomes meant that a number of other policy considerations that merit much more attention and thoughtful deliberation did not get due consideration prior to the Council taking action that effectively erodes transparency. 

The Council should rescind its action, and send out the proposed changes for notice and comment and for consideration by the Standard’s Review Committee, which can give due consideration to intended and unintended consequences in recommending an appropriate set of changes regarding the reporting of employment outcomes.” [Emphasis mine]

Do you think they made this decision for the benefit of the applicants, or for the in$titution$ of “higher learning”? If you need to contemplate that for more than a microsecond, then you are not capable of representing others in legal matters.

Other Coverage: Also on August 3, 2017, Kyle McEntee posted an excellent ATL piece labeled “ABA Takes Giant Step Backwards On Transparency.” Read the following portion:

“Without public input, the Council for the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has rolled back measures that make law schools more transparent. The ABA has eliminated from the current consumer information report, available for every ABA-approved law school, several pertinent job categories. It has also obfuscated whether jobs are funded by the law school or earned on the open market. The result: students will be misled after years of progress. 

Both the process and substance have already stirred the ire of those in and around legal education.

To see why, it’s worth recounting the recent history of transparency at U.S. law schools. In 2010, my organization made national hay about deceptive employment statistics used by law schools and blessed by the ABA. In their marketing materials, law schools used a “basic employment rate,” typically ranging from 85% – 95% because the rate did not, among numerous flaws, distinguish between jobs at Starbucks, in the law library, and with major law firms. Schools would also advertise six-figure salaries without reporting response rates, which were sometimes as low as 10%. As a result, the ABA and law schools took a beating in the national press, which undoubtedly contributed to demand for law school decreasing dramatically.

Fast forward a few years, beginning with job statistics for the class of 2011, and the ABA began to require law schools to publish far more transparent data. This was accomplished through a very public, deliberative process. In subsequent years, the ABA made additional changes to data collection, reporting, and publishing. Sometimes the changes were positive, other times they were not, but the process was collaborative and transparent. 

This June, the Council did a complete about-face when it implemented revised disclosures and ordered a change to the data collection/reporting process. There was no public notice and comment. Neither Law School Transparency nor the National Association for Law Placement, a key player in law school jobs data reporting since the 1970s, were even privately consulted. Jim Leipold, NALP’s executive director, told me that “NALP was not involved in the decision. Technically, no one was. They did this behind closed doors without any period of notice and comment.” [Emphasis mine]

I’m not surprised that the ABA didn’t talk to LST. However, the fact that they did not consult NALP shows that they don’t respect the process.

Conclusion: In the final analysis, morons will continue to enroll in low-ranked law schools that offer pathetic employment prospects – even with transparent figures regarding outcomes. ABA-accredited diploma mills don’t want to risk losing out on some of the relative few marginal college grads who will reconsider attending a place that has a weak outlook. You, the student, are a mere mean$ to an end, i.e. large bags of federal loan money.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Fifth Tier Charlotte School of Law Will Start Receiving Federal Loans for Fall Semester

TTTT News: On July 31, 2017, the Charlotte Observer published a Michael Gordon piece entitled “Federal loans set to return to struggling Charlotte School of Law.” Look at this portion:

“Charlotte School of Law’s high-stakes gamble on the Trump administration appears to have paid off, with the school announcing it is close to an agreement with the government that would restore vital student-loan money to the beleaguered school. 

The resumption of the federal loans, the school says, would be effective with the fall semester, scheduled to begin Aug. 28. 

If true, the loans will restore millions of dollars students can use for tuition and expenses that were cut off for most of the past academic year. The Department of Education cited the for-profit law school’s chronic failings with test scores, curriculum and admission standards when it made Charlotte Law the first accredited law school ever to be cut off from the student-loan program. 

The loss of the money last year set off faculty layoffs and hundreds of student transfers. Many of the students who stayed had no way to pay for school and rent, leading faculty members to set up an emergency food bank. 

Law school President Chidi Ogene accused the Department of Education of making a political decision that gave the school and its students very little time to respond. He said at the time that Charlotte Law hoped to get a more favorable hearing when the Trump administration took office. That speculation only grew when President Donald Trump picked Betsy DeVos, a vocal supporter of for-profit schools, as secretary of education.

According to the blog Above the Law, Charlotte Law also paid $50,000 to the Podesta Group to lobby government officials on the school’s behalf.

The decision to appeal now appears to have been a sound one. Charlotte Law’s recent press release said it “has been notified by the U.S. Department of Education that it is prepared to reinstate the school’s ability to award (student loans).” 

The money will be made available under certain conditions being ironed out between the school and the federal government, conditions the school says it is willing to abide by but which it would not detail when asked by the Observer.” [Emphasis mine]

This school is operated by Chicago-based equity firm Sterling Capital Partners. It is rated as a fifth tier in$TTTTTiTTTTTuTTTTTion of “higher learning.” In the parlance of US “News” & World Report, it is listed as “Unranked.” Full-time tuition and fees amounted to $44,284, for the 2016-2017 academic year. What a great bargain, huh?! That is the equivalent of paying $28K for a 1986 Buick LeSabre with 317,000 miles on the odometer.

Prior Coverage: On July 5, 2017, the Charlotte Agenda featured an article from Jane Little, under the headline “Charlotte School of Law intends to stay open in the fall, but deadlines loom.” Take a look at this opening:

“Six months after a damning report from the American Bar Association, Charlotte’s only law school has become a shell of its former self. 

The for-profit Charlotte School of Law has been forced to stop accepting new students, and the faculty count has been reduced by about 70 percent. Only about 100 students remain enrolled, down from about 750.

But it’s still limping along. Summer school is currently underway, and fall classes are scheduled to start on Aug. 28.

Still, there are a slew of upcoming deadlines and requirements the school must meet before its fate is determined.

“It’s heartbreaking what’s happening because there’s a lot of people who put a lot into this law school and a lot of people who are displaced and had their lives turned around,” said Daniel Herrera, who recently took a leave of absence from the school. 

What’s next for Charlotte School of Law?

All indications are that Charlotte School of Law is fighting to be able to graduate the students currently enrolled. But there are several regulatory hurdles it faces to even be able to do that. 

On June 21, the UNC Board of Governors gave Charlotte School of Law a deadline: The school has until August 1 to prove that it’s financially stable or it could lose its license to operate in North Carolina. The board also ruled that the school must come up with an ABA approved “teach-out” plan by Aug. 10 to graduate its remaining students. A teach-out plan is a contingency that helps students complete their program at other campuses if theirs closes.” [Emphasis mine]

$omehow, this agreement came just in time for it to show that it is financially stable. Does anyone think that these “legal scholars” will have trouble putting together a contingency teach-out plan, in the next week or so?

Conclusion: In the final analysis, this fifth tier cesspool has some other obstacles to overcome. However, the school has achieved its biggest objective. After all, the spigot of student loan money is the lifeblood of the “higher education” industry. How many pupils have more than $40K laying around in their couch? Plus, that is only for one year of tuition. Sadly, more lemmings will continue to enroll in this place – so long as the school can show that it is solvent. Now juxtapose that with the typical CharloTTTTTe $chool of Law graduate, who simply hopes to find a legal job making $50K – while being saddled down with $160K in non-dischargeable debt.
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