The Legal Beat
Much-Maligned Law School In Very Serious Danger Of Losing Its License To Operate
Posted on Thursday June 22, 2017
Last month, we reported that the University of North Carolina’s Board of Governors had decided to review whether or not the Charlotte School of Law would be able to retain its license to operate within the state. Earlier this week, the Board of Governors met to determine the law school’s fate, and the result may sound the death knell for the embattled school.
The school, which is already on probation with the American Bar Association, must now deal with severe restrictions as it attempts to prove that it’s stable enough to continue operations. The News & Observer has additional details:
The law school … cannot admit new students and must present evidence to UNC by Aug. 1 that it is in compliance with state licensure standards. It must have a sufficient tuition guaranty bond, which would refund students’ prepaid tuition if the school went out of business. And by Aug. 10, the school must obtain permission from the ABA to “teach out” its remaining students and a decision by the U.S. Department of Education to allow the students access to financial aid.
If Charlotte Law does not meet these conditions, its license to operate will automatically be revoked. (For what it’s worth, Charlotte isn’t the only InfiLaw school that’s been ordered to post a surety bond for its students financial safety. Last month, the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education required Arizona Summit Law to do the same, to the tune of $1.5 million.)
Charlotte Law currently has 100 students — 11 1Ls, 55 2Ls, and 34 3Ls — who currently do not have access to the federal loan program. As noted in the News & Observer, many of those students want to complete their degrees at the school because they “don’t have other options.”
Joe Knott, a UNC board member who had reservations about the school’s continued operation, said what is perhaps the most appropriate thing that’s ever been said about a law school that’s in such big trouble: “I’m wondering, from all that I’ve heard about this school, is allowing the students to remain in such a school actually doing them any favors? Would it not be better for them to stop this endeavor and find an educational opportunity at a better school?”
The saddest thing of all about this situation is the fact that many of Charlotte Law’s students are simply desperate to be lawyers, and because they truly have nowhere else to turn as far as admissions are concerned, they’ve stuck with the school as it has run through a veritable gauntlet these past few months, knowing full well that their chances of passing the bar exam and finding employment as lawyers are quite slim. This is why some form of consumer protection is needed when it comes to situations like these, to protect students who cannot — and in some cases, will not — protect themselves from their law schools.
Will the UNC Board of Governors’ actions be the Charlotte School of Law’s undoing? As one-time Florida Coastal School of Law dean candidate David Frakt noted, “It may not be the final nail in the coffin, but the noose is tightening.”
Staci Zaretsky has been an editor at Above the Law since 2011. She’d love to hear from you, so please feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments. You can follow her on Twitter or connect with her on LinkedIn.