Student and Former Professor Sue ABA For Accrediting Failed Charlotte School of Law

downloadThere is an interesting complaint filed in U.S. ex rel Bernier v. Infilaw against the American Bar Association that accuses the ABA of negligence in its accreditation of the Charlotte School of Law, which later went defunct.  What is interesting is that the lawsuit (alleging that the ABA should not have accredited the school) was brought not just by former student and graduate Ese Love, but a former faculty member, Barbara Bernier.

The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions is accused of either knowing or should have known that the school fell well below minimal standards for a law school. Both the former student and former professor insist that they were misled by the accreditation.  The complaint states: In short, InfiLaw and CSOL were motivated by profits, not students,” the suit said. “The ABA, in failing to enforce and ensure that CSOL was in compliance with the Standards, failed to act as a reasonable accreditor.”

They argue that Charlotte School of Law grabbed any students regardless of their ability or grades to fill seat in the $41,000 a year school.

The most interesting allegation is that the school actively sought to get students to cancel their  first bar exams after graduation, even compensating them.  This allowed them to be listed as “second time” test-takers — allowing the school to omit their scores from passage rate data reporting to the ABA.

Bernier’s participation is likely to raise some academic eyebrows.  Faculty are expected to be more familiar with such problems and in a better position to gauge the sufficiency of a program. In fairness to Bernier, faculty members are not necessarily aware of programs or even policies like the second-taker exam tactic.


I have been a long critic of for-profit schools and strongly disagree with the Trump Administration’s reported shift in support of such schools.  Charlotte Law was owned by the InfiLaw System, which also owns Florida Coastal School of Law and Arizona Summit Law School.

51 thoughts on “Student and Former Professor Sue ABA For Accrediting Failed Charlotte School of Law”

  1. Someone please ask Professor Turley to comment on the revelation of Obama’s placement of a spy in the Trump campaign while eschewing a similar deployment in Hillary’s. This is a conspicuous omission by a professor known not to be absent-minded.

    1. How would commenting “on the revelation of Obama’s placement of a spy in the Trump campaign while eschewing a similar deployment in Hillary’s [campaign]” criticize the President or malign him in any way? If Mr. Turley can’t find an angle in a political article in which there’s an opportunity to criticize the President or malign him in some way, he’ll pass.

      1. It’s the coup de grace on Obama’s coup d’etat. That’s all, folks. The conspiracy of the Obama Gang has been exposed. Now it’s off to jail with you scoundrels and traitors.

    2. It’s an accusation, not a revelation. Just because Trump makes an accusation, certainly does not make it true.

      1. Jay S – it is an accusation of interference in a federal election and a revelation of who was the mole. The IG is going to look into the accusation.

    1. The Roy Cohn School of Law specializing in mafia defense lawyering.

        1. wildbill99 – the Michael Cohen Chair of Ethical Behavior is being offered to James Comey until he is indicted.

              1. OK, I’ll bet that Comey doesn’t get indicted at all. Nor Hillary, for that matter.

                1. wildbill99 – there was a rumor that Mueller gave Comey immunity when he gave him the memos, however, Hillary was not given immunity when she was questioned by the FBI. She is still vulnerable. Plus, I think the IG’s report is going to ask for criminal action against Comey for the Hillary affair.

                  Plus, plus, if they do not go after Hillary after going after Trump, heads will roll at the polls. The generic lead for the Dems has shrunk to +4 from +15 and it is only May.

                  1. IMHO the Trump administration is riding on the best series of news cycles since the start of his Presidency. Korea, recent economic news, and now the possibility of a positive trade agreement with China.
                    But it’s still seven months to go until the midterms and a lot can still happen.
                    I don’t see Clinton being indicted because I don’t believe there is a credible case to be made against her.

                    1. wildbill99 – they can reopen the emails, what were those emails doing on Huma’s computer with Anthony’s wiener? There is the missing money from Haiti. There is pay-for-play. And there is the Clinton Foundation which is supposedly under investigation. There is so much in the Clinton sandbox to play with.

        2. This is one scummy, corrupt bunch of people. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see the Trump brand destroyed forever and Trump and his gang of grifters headed back to Queens.

  2. These cases do not appear winnable despite absolutely everyone part of the relevant judicial process knowing full well the schools are scams. What really needs to be done is target an alleged law school or two hanging in the US News 120-150 rankings. Show what’s really going on even in supposed established law schools. Sue Univ of Dayton, Widener, DePaul, Vermont Law. The costs, the crippling debt, the third rate education, the slim chances of any sort of decent employment. To bring the legal profession back to some semblance of respectability it is necessary to cut down drastically the number of law schools. 150 law schools is really pushing it, and adding another 90 on top of that? A model for law schools ought to be Missouri, not California, New York or Illinois.

  3. I would like to see the suit win, but I do not think it will.

    1. The Trump University case led to a $25 M settlement, these folks should be so lucky.

  4. Yesterday I attended the law school graduation of a close friend. I enjoyed the ceremony and congratulate all of the newly elevated graduates. Though there was one distraction. It seemed there was perhaps a bit too much of the board of directors lavishing praise on themselves and conferring honorary degrees after a long-winded list of credentials and other honours of these recipients. Of course the actual graduates simply had their name read.

    I suppose it is part of the overhead of maintaining a law school. It might be in some ways akin to opera and symphony orchestras in the United States. If there wasn’t a degree of arrogance, professed sophistication, and high society nature self-attributed to these two ventures there wouldn’t be sufficient reward to elicit large donations from these patrons or consumers. Otherwise, the two might fail if they instead appealed to ordinary individuals who are not so much interested in keeping up appearances.

    So, let the boards of directors have their self-congratulation ceremony. If it helped my friend and his cohorts earn a rewarding future for themselves, it’s probably a small price to pay.

    1. So do you Darren. Law schools are high overhead operations. But it’s probably a small price to pay. Correction, it’s not Ventures, it’s venues.

      1. Darren, I’m going to suggest that appropriating other poster’s handles does severe damage to the quality of discussion and is one thing that should be a banning offense. There’s an IP address attached to this post and it is not mine.

        1. Darren, I insist on quality discussion time to bedevil the other posters. The IP address will show who the top poster/perpetrator is and it’s not this one. Damage to the quality of discussion is one thing that should be a banning offense. Who should be allowed to attack, accuse and demoralize everyone, but themselves?

          1. Why not stick to your own handles, Diane? This is puerile.

  5. What nonsense. ALL law schools are for-profit schools. Today’s law school annual tuition and fees range from about $25,000 to $60,000. The typical ratio of students to faculty is about 9:1. So, a typical school is raking in about $360,000 from students for every instructor. Since the typical law school instructor makes about $180,000 per year, the schools gross profit is about $180,000 per instructor with a fat gross margin of 50% (i.e., $180,000 divided by $360,000). Let’s assume a hefty overhead of about 20%. That produces a net profit of about $108,000 made on each faculty member. I’d say that plenty profit. In stark contrast, a supermarket earns a razor thin net profit made off of each employee.

    As for passing the bar, the quality of the law school has little to do with passing the bar. You could go to any of the most prestigious law schools in the nation, work hard and study diligently, and if that’s all you did, you surely would flunk the the bar. Why is that? Because law school don’t help you pass the bar. To pass the bar today, law students absolutely must take a quality bar-preparation program. Students have to study specifically for the bar exam to pass the bar exam. This is one of the dirty little secrets of law schools and the American Bar Association. In effect, law schools are ALL ripoffs because if the ABA let you, you could just take a bar-prep program, pass the bar exam, and skip law school altogether. But the ABA won’t let you do that because they have a vested interest in maintaining the law school racket. Of course, the ABA’s argument is that requiring the completion of law school (or the equivalent in states that don’t require law school attendance, such as New York and California) is a matter of “protecting the public.” But this is a sham. The only parties being protected by the requirement of law school (or the equivalent) is the ABA and the law schools, or the legal status quo.

    1. You fail to understand the economics of running a post-secondary education establishment. The overhead on the salary figure is much higher than you imagine. At least it isn’t as bad as in the aerospace industry, something like 600% of engineers’ salaries.

      1. You fail to understand the economics of running a post-secondary education establishment.

        So do you. Law schools aren’t high overhead operations.

        1. Well, the nearest to me is the Gonzaga Law School in Spokane. Analyze the budget there to support your assertion.

          1. David Benson – STILL owes me a citation from the OED. No one owes you anything until I get my citation. What chutzpah! You are asking him for the same thing I am asking of you. Have you no shame!!!

              1. David Benson – owes me a citation from the OED and has no shame! David, I am the oldest of six, I can do this until one or the other of us is dead. 😉

                  1. wildbill99 – although there is no money in it, I am up for it to the death. 😉

            1. DB isn’t going to give you an OED citation, because he has none to give. He simply made up his “citation.” DB makes stuff up all of the time, and none of it is creative. And he will never admit to anything because that’s what serial liars do.

                1. David Benson – owes me a citation from the OED. Admit it, David, you have never looked up a word in the OED. You just threw that out there because you thought would impress me.

      2. If you examine the budgets of law schools that appear to have high “overheads” and you understand the accounting, you will know that the overhead is padded with profligate spending. The law schools WASTE a lot of money because they choose to, not because they have to. Most of the fixed costs in law schools are steady. The action is in the variable costs, and that’s where the law schools choose to waste their money. Most important, they have no incentive whatsoever to control those variable costs the way most businesses would need to do. In the law school racket, “everybody’s doing it,” so the overhead costs continue to rise. This becomes the all-purpose justification for hiking nominal tuition in real terms every year: we have to raise tuition because we have to spend more money, because otherwise we’ll fall behind in the competition otherwise. Thus tuition goes up because costs go up. Law schools spend more every year because they raise tuition every year, and they raise tuition every year because they can, thanks to the federal government’s educational loan policies.

        1. What all institutions of higher (more or less) learning try to sell is prestige or cachet. Harvard could charge a million dollars a year, and still be oversubscribed. These lesser institutions are trying the same game, albeit on a much smaller scale. The actual cost of providing the instruction is irrelevant, beyond at least breaking even.

  6. Just finished reading, “The Rooster Bar” by John Grisham which is mostly about for-profit law schools and how they fleece the students, the government and therefore the public.

  7. I don’t see how anyone could reasonably rely on ABA accreditation as a guarantee of a quality law school. The ABA accredits garbage law schools in CA whose graduates have a slim chance of ever passing the bar exam, and a zero chance of ever finding employment in a decent law firm or government agency. The ABA’s willingness to confer accreditation on failing or marginal law schools is the cause of the U.S. lawyer glut, as ABA accreditation allows students at these worthless schools to receive federal loans. If anything, the plaintiffs should sue the Dept of Education for negligence in delegating accreditation responsibilities to the ABA, which is a private organization with no accountability to anyone other than its members.

    1. The Department of Education does not accredit or delegate responsibility for such.

      1. Well maybe it’s time they do. Leaving accreditation up to unaccountable private organizations perpetrates a fraud on students who receive worthless degrees and are saddled with financially crippling student loans for much of their adult lives.

        1. Fine. Write to your congesscritters and be sure to expect immediate action…

        2. It’s up to the state governments to shut down law schools with lousy bar passage rates. As we speak, the legal profession in this country could be adequately staffed with the award of about 30,000 law degrees per year. Currently, 49,000 are being awarded in a typical year. You need to squeeze the pus out.

          In regard to the federal government, the less intrusive measure would be to discontinue federal guarantees for student loans contracted for graduate and professional school and remove some of the enhanced creditor protection in bankruptcy law for such student loans. If banks and finance companies started doing some serious underwriting, you have fewer loans extended and fewer students enrolling.

          A more intrusive thing the federal government might do is require schools wishing to recruit and enroll prospects who’ve had a history less than five-years residency in the state in which the school is located (pro-rating periods of part-time and seasonal residency) to purchase a permit for each. The federal government could have a global ration of such permits and distribute them via multiple price auctions. You could have one auction for private institutions to distribute 70% of such permits and one for public institutions to distribute the other 30%. The global number of permits distributed each year would be a function of the number of working lawyers in the United States.

          As for state governments, you could do the following: allow aspirants to sit for the bar exam without a law degree, ration admissions to state law schools, and finance legal education through a voucher distribution scheme which would limit or obviate the need to seek debt-financing for legal education. The vouchers could be distributed according to examination schemes.

          One problem is that we live in a society with all too much rent-seeking, and BigLaw partners are champion rent-seekers (distributing some of the swag to their associates). Only about 20% of the working lawyers in America are employed in BigLaw. We need to take their rents away from them, and the legal profession will be less attractive.

          1. I agree with your last paragraph, to the extent I understand it.

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