Yes, it is true. As the recent story in the Atlantic by Paul Campos accurately reports, I was the dean candidate who was asked to leave Florida Coastal School of Law by school President Dennis Stone in the middle of my presentation to the faculty. Since the story came out, I’ve been contacted by many law faculty members wanting to know the whole story. I’ve also seen a fair amount of uninformed speculation on the topic floating around the blogosphere. So, I have decided to write about what happened in the hopes that I can put all the speculation to rest and move on.
Let me start by saying that just because I appear in Paul Campos’ article does not mean that I endorse Paul Campos’ point of view about Florida Coastal School of Law, InfiLaw, for-profit law schools, or the “law school scam” theory in general. I believe Paul raises a lot of serious and important issues, and makes several valid points, but the views expressed in the article are his, not mine. Dan Filler has graciously offered me the opportunity to expand on my own views on legal education here at The Faculty Lounge, and I will do so in future posts. (And thank you for the kind introduction, Dan.)
I also want to make it clear at the outset that I do not agree with the view expressed by some commentators that Florida Coastal School of Law, Charlotte Law, or Arizona Summit School of Law are “diploma mills.” I believe that each of these schools provides a solid legal education, on par with many of their peer schools. The truth is that the faculty hiring market has become so competitive that all three of these schools have been able to hire many highly qualified and distinguished lawyers and scholars as faculty members. I have friends on the faculty of all three schools whom I know to be fine teachers and scholars who would be a credit to any law school faculty in the country. I have seen no evidence that the educational program at InfiLaw is any less rigorous than the typical J.D. program. There is no question that all three InfiLaw schools have produced many fine attorneys, a substantial majority of whom passed the bar on the first attempt. My concern about InfiLaw has primarily to do with its admissions policies over the last four years. During this time, InfiLaw schools have admitted hundreds of students with extremely low LSAT scores and mediocre GPAs. This clearly appears to be an administrative policy as the admission numbers look very similar at all three of their schools. I do not believe that InfiLaw has any special insight that would enable them to identify students with extremely low LSAT scores who have much greater aptitude for the study of law than their test scores and GPAs would indicate. Nor do I believe that InfiLaw schools have any magic formula for getting students of marginal aptitude to outperform their indicators. InfiLaw schools are not notably better or worse or different than the many other unranked law schools around the country, aside from their for-profit status.