The letter reports on the school’s poor bar pass rate on the July 2016 bar (first-time pass rate of 52%). Dean DeVito candidly acknowledges that this is “unacceptable.”
In response to several straight poor results on bar examinations, which (although Dean DeVito doesn’t directly admit this) were the direct result of dropping admission standards starting in 2011, Dean DeVito announced that the school will be raising its admission standards back to 2010 levels, aiming for a median LSAT of 150 or higher, and a 25% percentile of 147. The letter indicates that Florida Coastal has already raised their incoming LSAT requirements by 5 points (for 2015, they were at 148/144/141) and states that the school plans to raise LSAT quartiles by two more points in the next admissions cycle. He suggests that this change should result in a return to bar passage rates in the mid 70s, noting that Florida Coastal’s first-time pass rate was consistently in the mid 70s prior to 2010 when their median LSAT was 150.
Dean DeVito should be heartily commended for finally putting a stop to the exploitation of hundreds of students with poor aptitude for the study of law. But it is clear that he has done so very grudgingly, and that he is not happy about it. In fact, he says he is “incredibly frustrated” at having to raise standards because the more pressing crisis, in his view, is diversity in the profession, not declining bar passage rates. He does not acknowledge in any way that Florida Coastal erred by lowering its standards in the first place, but rather bemoans the fact that raising admissions standards to the levels required to produce an acceptable bar pass rate will (in his opinion) result in decreased diversity because of an insufficient pool of minority students with LSAT scores close to the median. (Incidentally, the actual median is between 151 and 152, not 150.) While I do not doubt Dean DeVito’s sincere commitment to increasing diversity in the profession, he is not fooling anyone if he is suggesting that Florida Coastal’s decision to dramatically lower its admission standards was driven by a desire to increase diversity. Florida Coastal’s irresponsible and unethical admission policies, like those of its sister schools Charlotte and Arizona Summit, were driven by InfiLaw’s corporate policy of profit-maximization (aka greed). While these schools have touted their high rates of diversity, what they have failed to mention is that a disproportionate share of the enormous revenues they have generated in recent years came from minority students who were (quite predictably) unable to complete their degrees or pass the bar.