The Wall Street Journal recently ran a front-page article about the rise and fall of InfiLaw. The article mentioned that when I was a candidate to be the Dean at Florida Coastal School of Law in April 2014 I was shocked by the credentials of the students that Florida Coastal was admitting. This is true. Yesterday, the WSJ ran a Correction & Amplification regarding this story. The correction stated:
A Page One article on Nov. 25 about InfiLaw System law schools included criticism from David Frakt about the academic credentials of Florida Coastal Law School’s incoming students. The article omitted the company’s response that the school’s incoming class of 2013 had a median undergraduate grade-point average of 2.97 and that 73% of its graduates between 2007 and 2014 with an LSAT score below 145 passed the bar exam.
There are several things worth noting about InfiLaw’s response.
First, assuming InfiLaw’s reporting is accurate (and they have not publicly released their data), it is critical to note that they refer only to those of their students with an LSAT score below 145 who graduated. InfiLaw asserts that of those who graduated, 73% passed the bar exam. This begs the question - how many students at 144 and below flunked out? Undoubtedly, this is a number that InfiLaw would not be proud to publicize. Also, the 73% rate for those at 144 and below appears to be an eventual or ultimate pass rate, not a first-time pass rate. As a point of reference, the ABA has proposed an 85% ultimate pass rate within two years as a minimum standard.
It is also important to note the timing that InfiLaw references. InfiLaw references graduates from 2007 to 2014. Florida Coastal was far more selective in its admissions before the great decline in applications which started in 2011 and continued from 2012 to 2015. For example, in 2008 and 2009, the entering classes were at 153/150/147. At that time, Florida Coastal admitted few students at 144 and below, and could admit only those 144s with relatively strong academic records. The graduating class of 2014 was primarily composed of students from the entering class of 2010 and 2011. Although Florida Coastal started to drop their standards in 2010, they were still at a marginally acceptable level at that time. The entering class of 2010 had LSATs of 152/149/146. The class of 2011 was at 151/147/145. But the class of 2014 -- the one that the Wall Street Journal noted that I found shocking -- was at 147/143/140, placing the majority of the class at extremely high risk of failure, and representing an enormous drop in aptitude across the entire class. Instead of taking a handful of 144s with good grades, or who did well in a rigorous admission by performance program, Florida Coastal started admitting almost every student above 140 that applied and many students with LSATs in the 130s, something previously unheard of at an ABA-Accredited law school. Over 77% of all students who applied in 2014 were admitted. UGPAs were also down across the board. The WSJ Correction references a UGPA median of 2.97 in 2013. This is hardly something to write home about., given that the average GPA for college graduates is 3.15. In 2014, FCSL's median was down to 2.93. More importantly, at the 25% point, the UGPA was an appalling 2.63.
The admissions policies at all three InfiLaw schools (Charlotte School of Law, Florida Coastal and Arizona Summit), were centrally driven by InfiLaw and were virtually identical from 2012-2015. All three schools admitted hundreds of students that InfiLaw knew were not capable of completing a rigorous JD program and passing the bar, with disastrous, and completely predictable, results. Their efforts to justify these admissions practices shouldn't fool anyone.