Can't pass the bar exam? Here's a $10,000 refund.
schools are experimenting with refund programs for graduates who don't
pass the bar examination after two tries, provided they complete a
rigorous set of bar preparation courses beforehand.
Coastal School of Law is offering the same refund to students dismissed
for academic reasons following their 1L year, plus $2,000 to those who
fail to secure a externship, clerkship, clinical experiences or other
substantive legal work while in school.
The Charlotte School of
Law has launched its own pilot program offering $10,000 to graduates
tripped up more than once by the bar exam. Both are for-profit law
schools operated by InfiLaw Inc., which also owns the Phoenix School of
The idea behind the Assured Outcomes Partnership, as the
programs have been dubbed, is to assure students and prospective
applicants that their instructors will do all they can to help them
succeed both academically and in their careers, Florida Coastal dean
Peter Goplerud said.
At the same time, the offer creates an
incentive for students to take full advantage of the academic support
and bar preparation services available through the law school, he said.
The goal is make sure students never need to take the law school up on
the refund offer.
"The key is that this is a partnership. It's
join accountability," Goplerud said. "If students complete the
requirements we've set out, we aren't going to write any checks."
He was unaware of any other law schools that offer similar refunds.
Coastal's program is more comprehensive than Charlotte's. It covers
three distinct areas: academic performance, bar passage and work
experience gained while in law school.
"Law school is not for
everyone," reads the overview of the program on the school's website.
"If, after the first year, a student is academically dismissed despite
adhering to all Assured Outcomes Partnership terms and conditions, he or
she will receive $10,000 from Florida Coastal School of Law, which we
recommend be used to defray any student loans incurred."
Full-time tuition at Florida Coastal runs about $37,000 a year.
refunds by no means represent free money. To qualify, recipients must
fulfill a series of requirements that include attending review sessions,
submitting study schedules, submitting class outlines, attending
writing assistance workshops and writing practice essays. If students
complete all the requirements and still flunk out following their 1L
year, they may receive the $10,000 refund. This potion of program is
open to students who enroll next fall.
must complete a robust bar preparation program to qualify for the
refund should they fail the bar exam after two attempts. (This portion
of the program is available to full-time students who started their law
studies in January, both at Florida Coastal and Charlotte.)
Charlotte pilot program mimics this aspect of Florida Coastal's program
and is available to graduates who fail the North Carolina or South
Carolina bar exams twice.
"It's a safety net of a certain
type," said Daniel Piar, associate dean for academics at Charlotte Law.
"If you do [the bar exam preparation requirements] and you're still not
successful, something is wrong."
The legal work experience
portion of the Florida Coastal's program is intended to assure students
that they will secure an externship, participate in a clinic, land a
law clerkship, do pro bono work or complete a legal skills lab while in
school. To qualify for the $2,000 refund, however, they must work
closely with the school's career services personnel and meet certain job
"We hope to achieve a cohort of gradates
that have taken full advantage of what we believe is a very strong
offering of support mechanisms," Goplerud said. "We want to ensure our
students have the work experience they need to have successful careers."
Assured Outcomes was not conceived in response to any concern
from the American Bar Association over Florida Coastal's bar passage
rate, Goplerud said. More than 75 percent of it graduates passed the
Florida bar exam on their first sitting this past July, giving it the
ninth-highest rate among the state's 11 law schools.
acknowledged that Florida Coastal's applications were down this year —
as they were at nearly every law school in the United States — but he
denied that the refunds are intended solely for recruiting purposes.
Still, the school has highlighted the program to potential applicants,
Charlotte, too, hopes to see some recruiting benefit for the bar exam assurance program, Piar said.
student these days, I think, have becoming increasingly more selective
and savvier consumers, and they're looking more at things like outcomes.
So I wouldn't be surprised if we saw more schools launch these types of
programs in the future."
Contact Karen Sloan at firstname.lastname@example.org.