For-profit law school owners take the 5th
The American Bar Association this week announced that it was putting Arizona Summit Law School on probation due to egregiously low bar exam passage rates. This makes ASLS only the country's second law school on ABA probation ― the first of which, Charlotte School of Law, subsequently was shut off from the federal student loan spigot by the U.S. Department of Education.
The connection? These are two of three for-profit law schools owned and operated by Infilaw, which in turn is owned by private equity firms Sterling Partners and ABRY Partners, alongside a bit of debt and equity co-invest from publicly-traded Ares Capital Corp.
How bad is it? Last year, ASLS students taking the bar exam for the first time passed at just a 24.6% rate. The national average was 64.2%, while local rival Arizona State University came in at 78.8%. In Charlotte, things got so bad that the school secretly paid "at risk" graduates to delay taking the bar exam until after taking a third-party prep course. And before you think this is some cut-rate program, one year of attendance at ASLS runs over $67,000.