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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Feb. 7, 201905:00 AM EST

The Marbut Report: Florida Coastal seeking nonprofit status; Van Nortwick memorial set

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Law school also is working with a college merger partner.
by: Max Marbut Associate Editor

Since its first classes in 1996, Florida Coastal School of Law has operated as a for-profit institution and one of three members of the InfiLaw Corp. law school consortium.

That may change.

Florida Coastal has applied to the American Bar Association to transition the school’s corporate structure to not-for-profit under ABA Rule 29 and Standard 105: “Acquiescence for major change in program or structure.”

Florida Coastal Dean Scott DeVito said Tuesday that if the change is approved, the school also no longer would be affiliated with InfiLaw, the Naples-based consortium that, in addition to Florida Coastal, involves two other law schools in Arizona and North Carolina. It will be an independent law school with an independent board of trustees.

He said the application is part of a strategy that started four years ago when Florida Coastal began increasing its academic requirements for admission.

In 2018, the ABA notified the three schools that they were out of compliance with accreditation standards.

The long-term strategy could include Florida Coastal partnering with an undergraduate institution.

“The first step is to become a nonprofit law school. Then, if the board thinks it appropriate, we could merge with a nonprofit university,” said DeVito.

Florida Coastal is “working closely” with a potential merger partner, he said, but declined to name the potential partner, pending the ABA’s decision on the change in business status.

“It’s not in Jacksonville, or in Florida, but it is in the Southeast,” DeVito said.

InfiLaw has been cooperating with the change and would contribute the school’s assets to the new 501(c)(3), DeVito said.

The application for status change could be considered when the ABA Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar meets in May, said Florida Coastal Dean of Academics Jennifer Reiber.

“We’d like to be completely done by year’s end. It’s ambitious, but doable,” she said.

As it proposes its independence, Florida Coastal is the last of InfiLaw’s schools that is admitting students.

The consortium also included Charlotte School of Law in North Carolina. 

It closed in August 2017 after being put on probation by the ABA for noncompliance with accreditation standards and then losing its federal student loan funding.

Arizona Summit Law School in Phoenix was placed on probation for noncompliance in March 2017.

It currently is involved in a one-year “teach-out plan” that will allow its students, until the end of the spring 2020 semester to earn credit toward their law degree as “visiting students” at ABA-approved law schools.

“Apart from the administration and oversight of the Teach-Out Plan, the School will cease operations as an ongoing law school. The School will not admit any students and will not offer any credit-bearing courses,” according to the school’s website, azsummitlaw.edu.

Legal big shots take home first-place trophy

With a score of 370 out of a possible 400, from left, Circuit Judge Lance Day, Phillip Teague, Dan Powell and Victor Jubran were the winning team at the inaugural Jacksonville Bar Association Sporting Clays Shoot on Feb. 1 at Jacksonville Clay Target Sports.

A portion of the proceeds from the event, sponsored by the Milam, Howard, Nicandri, Gillam & Renner law firm, will benefit Three Rivers Legal Services.

Van Nortwick memorial Feb. 15

A memorial service for retired 1st District Court of Appeal Judge and Akerman partner William Van Nortwick Jr. is scheduled at 4 p.m. Feb. 15 at the Garden Club of Jacksonville, 1005 Riverside Ave.

Van Nortwick died Jan. 12 at the age of 73.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to Mayo Clinic, The Florida Bar Foundation or the V Foundation.

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