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Jax Daily Record Monday, Apr. 30, 201812:04 PM EST

Florida Coastal School of Law found in compliance with ABA general standards

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But school found noncompliant with certain admission standards.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

Florida Coastal School of Law is in compliance with general American Bar Association standards, but remains in noncompliance with others related to admission standards.

The Accreditation Committee of the ABA Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar notified the school Friday of its rulings, based on a hearing convened in March that followed having been notified in October by the ABA that the school was not in compliance with some standards for accreditation of law schools.

The committee did not recommend the school to be placed on probation or that any sanctions should be administered to the school.

Scott DeVito

Florida Coastal law professor and Dean Scott DeVito said Monday the findings from the committee is “good news” and likely reflective of the increased admission standards the school began adopting more than two years ago.

Florida Coastal students ranked fourth in the state among 11 law schools in first-time passage of the February Florida Bar examination.

In November, its students ranked No. 1 in the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination administered by the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

“We will continue to recruit higher entry credentials,” DeVito said.

Specifically, the committee found that Florida Coastal is in compliance with Standard 501(a): “A law school shall adopt, publish and adhere to sound admission policies and practices consistent with the Standards, its mission and the objectives of its program of legal education.”

“It’s good that one of our compliance issues was resolved,” DeVito said.

However, the committee found the school currently is noncompliant with Standard 301(a) that requires law schools to maintain a rigorous program of legal education that prepares its students, upon graduation, for admission to the Bar and for participation as members of the legal profession.

Florida Coastal also was found to be out of compliance with Standard 309(b) that requires law schools to provide academic support designed to afford students a reasonable opportunity to complete the program of legal education, graduate and become members of the legal profession.

DeVito said full-time faculty is assigned to provide academic support to students and six hours of Bar examination preparation curriculum is provided.

The committee directed Florida Coastal to develop a “written reliable plan” for bringing the school into compliance with the standards and submit the plan to the ABA by Oct. 1.

The required plan includes reporting admission data and methodology and admission practices and policies for the fall 2018 entering class.

Until the school is determined to be in compliance with all the standards, it must, after assignment and distribution of semester grades, notify each student of the Florida and Georgia first-time Bar examination passage rates, by class quartiles, for the six administrations preceding the semester; the class quartile in which the student ranks; and the school’s student attrition rate.

Further, the ABA will appoint a “fact-finder” to visit Florida Coastal to review the admission data provided by the school and to evaluate the “overall rigor” of the school’s program of legal education.

The committee will conduct a future hearing to evaluate Florida Coastal’s compliance plan.

DeVito said Florida Coastal will continue to fully cooperate with the ABA as it evaluates the school.

“We think we have done what we need to do. We’re going to hold the course,” he said.

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