There 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.