For Profit law schools

‘Dammit, this is even worse than Touro! Argh!’

Charleston doesn’t have the best reputation, but they’re not on a level with Charlotte School of Law, Florida Coastal, or Phoenix. Those are thought of as the bottom of the bottom.

– An anonymous third-year student from Charleston School of Law, lamenting the fact that he’ll have to answer questions about the quality of his legal education during interviews now that InfiLaw has become affiliated with his alma mater.

(InfiLaw already owns the three for-profit law schools mentioned above, and may soon add Charleston Law to its roster. Students and alumni are very unhappy.)

I imagine that students of the Charleston School of Law woke up this morning feeling a bit like exotic dancers who just found out that their strip joint was being sold to a whorehouse.

Charleston School of Law (CSOL) was already a pretty weak law school, charging $38,000 a year despite being unranked by U.S. News. Its employment stats and bar passage rates are often embarrassing. It’s “accredited” by the ABA because, well, the ABA will rubber-stamp institutions like this.

But yesterday the school announced that it was entering a “management services agreement” with a for-profit company, Infilaw Inc. Infilaw has not covered itself in glory. It owns Charlotte School of Law, Florida Coastal School of Law, and Phoenix School of Law. So to call Infilaw a “diploma mill” is being exceedingly kind to Infilaw.

It’s a bad situation. The news is “rocking the Charleston legal scene,” as one tipster told us, and many students and professors are upset. But the story of one student who was set to matriculate at CSOL this fall sort of illustrates how the kinds of students who go to CSOL are resistant to the market information, thus making a company like Infilaw possible…

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In a story that Ethan Bronner of the New York Times will repackage nine months from now and pretend like it is new, the National Law Journal tells us that two for-profit law schools are offering refunds to students who can’t pass the bar.

It only sounds nice if you don’t read the fine print, though in fairness, people who go to for-profit law schools are probably not the best at even identifying the fine print, much less at reading it and understanding how it might apply to their lives.

Still, I don’t know what kind of mathematically challenged people think that getting a $10K refund after spending nearly $120K to go to law school and not passing the bar is a good deal….

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In a time of rising tuition prices and declining job prospects, looking at the value proposition of going to law school is more important than ever. For the second year in a row, the National Jurist has named the 60 best value law schools in its preLaw magazine. From these 60 schools, it has further honored the top 20 value schools (unranked for now, but to be ranked, one through twenty, in October).

For the second year in a row, the methodology used to formulate these rankings needs to be much better if anybody is going to pay attention. The National Jurist recognized law schools as “best value” schools if they met four criteria:

1) their bar pass rate is higher than the state average;

2) their average indebtedness is below $100,000;

3) their employment rate nine months after graduation is 85 percent or higher; and

4) tuition is less than $35,000 a year for in-state residents.

We’ll get to naming the top 20 in a minute. First, we need to break down these inputs — inputs that could have been so much better and more relevant…

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