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November 17, 2017


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not a tar heel

Hasn't NC State in past years outperformed on the bar, given their entrance indicators?

And some have suggested that the NC bar has made it harder to pass in recent years, possibly in reaction to Charlotte, which could hurt NC State's statistics.

But, to be fair on the other side, the presence of Charlotte grads in the pool of test takers may have dragged DOWN the state's pass rate independent of any effort to effort by by the NC bar to make passing more difficult, which should have HELPED NC State's pass rate, all things being equal.

anon 2

NC State doesn't have a law school.

not a tar heel

Oops, meant NC Central.

Deep State Special Legal Counsel

LSAT scores are irrelevant. I am living a living breathing, practicing proof of that. My LSAT score was lower than Donald Trump's IQ. I am proud of that too! You have undoubtedly heard of the King of Torts? I am the King of Three Bill Retail Thefts. I am in the same profession as you high faluten professors. They call me Attorney at Law.


Golden Gate? USF?

David Frakt

Anon -

I am not sure about Golden Gate. On the admissions side, they have not dipped nearly as low as any of the schools that have been censured. The lowest they went was in 2015 at 151/148/145 3.28/2.94/2.72 but they rebounded slightly in 2016 to 153/149/146 3.24/2.98/2.73, so I don't think the ABA will make a finding of noncompliance with Standard 501 based on that (unless they have dropped again in 2017 - we'll find out about that in a couple weeks). Golden Gate's biggest issue is bar passage, 55.6% in '13, 45.1% in '14, 38.9% in '15, low 30s in '16, and still awaiting numbers for July 17. Incredibly, under the incredibly forgiving and loophole-ridden Standard 316 on bar passage, the school still has not been found out of compliance with this Standard. In fact, to my knowledge, no school has. Even Thomas Jefferson, Charlotte and Arizona Summit, which were all placed on probation by the ABA within the past 18 months after years of miserable bar results, were not out of compliance with Standard 316. Which is why the ABA desperately needs to adopt the proposed change to 316 that was rejected by the House of Delegates last summer.

USF is not in any danger of trouble with the ABA. Their admissions numbers are fine, and their bar pass is middle of the pack for California.


GGU From 2016 509: Any errors inadvertent

For the full time class: 151 149 146.

Which I believe means that in the first year class, you are teaching a class that is at least 75% in the bottom half of LSAT distribution. And, if I am understanding correctly, half of the class is at high to extreme risk of flunking out of law school or failing the bar exam, according the DF scale.

That scale seems to be fairly predictive.

The Attrition rate, perhaps predictably is:

1st year 39.3%
2nd year 5.3%

And the bar pass rates are abysmal:

Bar Passage Rates (February and July 2013) -15.42
Bar Passage Rates (February and July 2014) -20.91
Bar Passage Rates (February and July 2015) -24.81

The tuition is Full-Time Resident $ 48,500 Non Resident $ 48,500, in other words, similar to a T10 law school.

Opportunity, folks --- for the grossly, almost obscenely greedy folks who cling to and milk this operation.

What's worse is that the ABA doesn't seem to take into any consideration whether a law school was previously on probation. Perhaps the ultimate failure of prior efforts to remedy the issues by probation should be an even more telling signal that further, more strict action is required (i.e., a temporary improvement followed by falling back might suggest the unwillingness or inability of the faculty to do what is necessary to improve, inviting scrutiny).

David's comment back in 2016 deserves repeating here:

" have taken a look at Golden Gate and what they have been doing is appalling. Their bar pass rate in 2012 was 67.6%, within 4 points of the state average. In 2013 it was 55.7%, 15.4 below the state average. In 2014, it was 45.1% 20.9% below the state average. In 2015, according to their 2016 ABA 509 report ... they had a 38.9% pass rate, 24.8% below the state average. Now, in 2016 they are at 31% (or worse, as the Feb 2016 bar results were significantly worse than the summer results) and are likely more than 30% below the state average. From this data it is clear that Golden Gate has failed to meet the current ABA bar pass standard 301, since they have not been above 75 for any of the last five years, and they have been more than 15 points below the average first-time bar passage rates for graduates of ABA-approved law schools taking the bar examination in these same jurisdictions four years in a row. I am not sure why the ABA has not yet taken action, but it is probably because of the incredibly long time that a school is given to report its bar exam results to the ABA.

Looking at Golden Gate's prospects for the future, I think there is a good chance they will go out of business if they are put on probation. Certainly, there is no prospect of significant improvement in their bar pass results anytime soon. The class they admitted in 2014 is weaker that the 2013 class that just bombed the July exam, with an LSAT range of 153/149/146 compared to the 2013 group which had 153/150/147. The class that matriculated in 2015 is significantly worse, weaker even than the Whittier class that just achieved 22% on the July bar with an LSAT spread of 151/148/145. This fall's entering class rebounded slightly to 152/149/146 from last year, but is still weaker across the board than the class that just achieved 31%. What Golden Gate has done over the last five years is a textbook example of why the new bar passage standard must be approved by the house of delegates and why the ABA must closely scrutinize admissions practices and not focus solely on bar passage, which has a 4-5 year lag time after a class is admitted.

I don't know if the faculty at Golden Gate is bad or good. What I can tell you is that even the best faculty in the world would not be able to get a class with more than 50% high risk students to pass the California bar at a rate of 60% or higher. Their performance is very much in line with their competitor schools with similar student bodies."

anon 2

I'd still like to know what Golden Gate did to you?

Joe S

Anon, My guess is that the Frakt score risk bands have to be adjusted for California. Even opportunity schools should seek a 25th percentile LSAT of 149 in California given the cut score for the bar in California. However, I doubt the ABA is going to adopt that standard any time soon. It seems like the ABA is concentrating the bottom 5-10% of law schools right now. There are several dozen law schools admitting students of similar caliber to Golden Gate right now.

The ABA House of Delegates seems very concerned about overly strict standards for the fourth tier Law Schools. The House of Delegates has recently refused to enact the recommended 75% Standard over two years for bar passage rates. My thinking is that the ABA Section on Legal Education is trying to coax the ABA House of Delegates along by slowly raising standards over the next few years.


anon 2:

They are not in compliance, as David has said.

The recent history of this law school's performance makes this even worse.

Why the questions? Why aren't you outraged when it is Whittier or Florida Coastal or all the others in the spotlight?

Do they pay your salary? Or are you representing the school? Perhaps you can defend it.


Joe S

Personally, I wouldn't focus so much on entry level scores, like the LSAT and GPA.

I would focus on attrition, bar pass rates, employment, and cost.

If you look at Golden Gate's performance on these metrics, you will see.

And, because no one seems to know what its recent history demonstrates, suffice it to say that it would appear that the law school was able to show a period of improvement, when forced to do so.

To me, that would be cogent evidence of faculty fault for failure. Period. If there is no such failure (as David says, the law school is not in compliance, but let's give it the benefit of at least an academic discussion), the burden should be on this law school to prove its performance is up to standards, given the metrics cited above and in its 509.

Under those circumstances, and given the consequences to the young people so deeply affected, it is, IMHO, inexcusable to allow this law school to slither under the radar, and I'd like to know the reason it does.

anon 2


I have no connection to Golden Gate or any law school. I just wonder about your hatred of a particular law school. Did they fire you? Did you flunk out? Fail the Cali bar? As the saying goes, thou doth protest too much.


anon 2

YOu are obviously not reading carefully. And, you seem to be willfully obtuse and unaware of the discussion here in the FL about law schools: especially bottom-feeding, for-profit, rapacious, callous, and seemingly incompetently managed law schools staffed by failing and flailing faculties unable to achieve the minimal ABA standards, even when teaching classes whose entrance credentials would suggest better results.

Perhaps you represent Golden Gate? Or, you are an investor, trying to protect your unseemly gains? Or, perhaps you don't know any reason to defend it, so you think that you can change the subject to why, oh why, would anyone question Golden Gate's performance.

Again, and for the last time, because you're ploy is so transparent, instead of questioning me: DEFEND THE LAW SCHOOL.

Let's hear it, anon 2. Give it your best shot. I don't think you will, because I don't think you can.

(BTW, if you resort to "opportunity" you will need to explain the tuition, attrition and employment rates.)

David Frakt

Ok, anon, let's calm down and tone it down. No one is defending Golden Gate or trying to. But it is not unreasonable to wonder about your extremely strong feelings toward Golden Gate, given that there are many other schools which have admitted far weaker students, and also have poor bar outcomes and job placement statistics, and leave students with large debt burdens. In any event, you have made your point (repeatedly). You think Golden Gate is a really bad law school and the ABA should do something about it, and you are bothered that the ABA hasn't. I don't have any insight as to why the ABA has overlooked Golden Gate so far, but one possible explanation is that the ABA is currently focused on schools with the very lowest admissions standards, and Golden Gate is not in that category. Unless there is some other specific point that you would like to make, or piece of information that you have to offer that may be of interest to TFL readers, then I will ask you to kindly refrain from making additional comments on this thread, especially those which attack other commenters. Thank you for your cooperation.



Fair enough. I agree that the point has been made (sort of). The point is that there must a reason, in my view, for picking some and letting others slide. And, focusing in inputs and not outputs, as suggested above, doesn't really make much sense as a reason to select or ignore violators.

This school appears to be a great example (especially because of the history), so, I've used it as a "test case."

As for personal attacks, I think anon 2 should also back off, or address the merits.

With that, I'll close my comments on this thread.

David Frakt

Anon -

I have a theory regarding inputs and outputs, with entrance credentials being the inputs and bar passage (and to a lesser extent, attrition rates) being outputs. The ABA Standard on the "output" of bar passage, 316, is completely ineffectual. A law school can be more than 15% points below the state average for years and still not be out of compliance because of the alternate "ultimate passage rate test" of 75% within 5 years. Right now, in the fall of 2017, law schools are still submitting ultimate bar pass rate within five year information on the graduating class of 2011. But the bar passage crisis didn't start until the class of 2014, because the law school admission crisis, which led to the lowering of admissions standards, didn't start until 2011-12. So, unless the ABA adopts the proposed changes to 316 providing a much shorter period for measuring ultimate bar passage, it will probably be another 3 years before a law school is actually found to have violated 316. So, if a violation of an ABA Standard is required for the ABA to take action, then looking solely at the "output" of bar passage doesn't work.

The complete uselessness of 316 for enforcement purposes is why LST started advocating for the ABA to start enforcing the Admissions Standard 501. It used to be that if a law school had a decent bar pass rate, then the ABA really wouldn't pay any attention to admissions (why focus on inputs, when you could focus on outputs?), but after years of declining admissions standards, and at the urging of LST, the ABA agreed that schools should not get a pass on admissions just because they are currently in compliance with 316. Otherwise, schools could basically admit anyone for close to a decade before the school would eventually run afoul of Standard 316. Law schools were aware that the ABA was very lax on admissions and took advantage of this fact. For the last two years, the ABA has started to use 501, ostensibly an inputs standard, as a way of getting at schools with bad outputs. So, a high attrition rate (over 20%) is now deemed to be evidence that a school is admitting students that they shouldn't be admitting. This means that law schools can't just admit students for revenue generation purposes and then flunk them out after a couple of semesters without any consequences. And poor bar passage statistics are considered as supporting evidence that a school is admitting students who are not capable of passing the bar. So, the schools that have been cited for violating 501 generally have both high attrition and very bad bar outcomes and this has been cited as evidence in support of the finding of non-compliance with 501, even though the school is technically still in compliance with 316. If a school already has poor bar passage statistics and then lowers its admission standards even further, as the schools which have been placed on probation did (Thomas Jefferson, Charlotte, Arizona Summit) then that is very strong evidence of a willful violation of 501, and that the school's admissions decisions are being driven by financial factors, and not whether the students being admitted truly appear capable of earning a J.D. and passing the bar.

Golden Gate did lower its admission standards at the same time that its bar passage rates were plummeting, but they have not fallen nearly as far as the other schools that have been cited for violating 501. So, the question is how many schools is the ABA going to target? Where will the ABA draw the line of what they consider to be reasonable admissions standards? Will the ABA apply a higher standard on admissions just because a law school is in California and most of its graduates take the bar there? Or should there be a single national standard for what an acceptable admitted student profile looks like? Depending on the answer to these questions, Golden Gate may be targeted by the ABA, or they may not. But, for the reasons previously stated, I doubt they are next in line.

David Frakt

To continue the thought, if you look at the remedial actions that the ABA is imposing for violations of Standard 501, many of the remedial actions relate to gathering more granular bar passage information and providing it to current and prospective students, as well as providing much more detailed bar pass information to the ABA for the ABA to assess compliance. So the ABA is very concerned with poor outputs (bar passage rates), but is using Standard 501 as a backdoor method to get at the worst performing schools.

anon 2

Once again anon I have no connection to Golden Gate. I see it as one of many law schools that are doing a poor job for their students. You, on the other hand,have singled GGU out. I am just wondering why. As I said before, thou doth protest too much.



(I'm not going to debate with anon 2, as it sounds like s/he is stuck.)

Two points. You say "So, a high attrition rate (over 20%) is now deemed to be evidence that a school is admitting students that they shouldn't be admitting."

Golden Gate's last 509: 1st year 39.3% 2nd year 5.3%.

You say: "150/148/146 would be pushing the envelope. Anything below that is a recipe for disaster. ... What I can tell you is that even the best faculty in the world would not be able to get a class with more than 50% high risk students to pass the California bar at a rate of 60% or higher. "

Golden Gate's last 509: "For the full time class: 151 149 146"

You said, in 2016: "The class that matriculated in 2015 is significantly worse, weaker even than the Whittier class that just achieved 22% on the July bar with an LSAT spread of 151/148/145. This fall's entering class rebounded slightly to 152/149/146 from last year, but is still weaker across the board than the class that just achieved 31%."

And, we haven't even started discussing the employment prospects for those who survive the attrition and actually pass the bar.

These are facts. Not arguments. These facts are not subject to personal attacks or refutable by questioning anyone's motives for noticing these facts. Repeatedly attacking the speaker of facts is sort of a weak tactic, really.

I think that your point about the "ultimate pass rate" is well taken, but that will only be a stalling tactic. The declining bar pass rates, despite what you apparently deem to be marginally acceptable input values, suggests even poorer performance by the law school faculty: a law school with a recent history to boot.

It is useful to discuss specific cases. It clarifies positions and gets at uniform, unbiased enforcement, as well as any holes in the standards, as you have noted.


I said this several years ago and received some very personal attacks for it.

The core problem is that US law schools as an industry is not aligned in terms of scale or cost with the economics of the legal profession. In simple terms it is producing about twice as many graduates at twice the tuition/cost that is sustainable. It’s a tale of two halves, it needs to half it’s size and the remaing schools need to half their costs. The problem is exacerbated because, starting in around 2010, and increasing proportion of potentially qualified matriculants to law school have decided that they do not see the outcome - a JD with debt, unstable employment, etc. as attractive. It is sustained by student loans notwithstanding these issues.

Practicing law tends to make you cynical about something’s. One thing you learn is that if there is money available for an activity - even one that is ethically dubious, or even reprehensible, someone will grab the cash and rationalise it later. Law schools like Whittier, Thomas Jefferson, Golden Gate, etc. exist because when bottom feeding is feasible, there will be bottom feeders. That means the problem of these schools will not go away, until and if law schools as a whole face reality - as in industry it’s current scale and cost base is only viable the bottom schools keep finding suckers, enrolling them and indenting them.

David Frakt it doing valuable work - and the criticism directed at him with respect to Golden Gate is not fair in such a target-rich environment. He can’t spend all his time on that particular school.

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