CHARLOTTE SCHOOL OF LAW

Understanding Charlotte School of Law Prominent Standing and Sudden Closure

Introduction

Founded in Charlotte, North Carolina, Charlotte School of Law is an independent college that came under the ownership of InfiLaw System. It opened its doors in 2006, marking the beginning of a significant chapter in legal education. By 2011, Charlotte Law had achieved full accreditation, a testament to its commitment to providing quality legal education. 

This article aims to explore Charlotte School of Law’s reputation, delving into its historical context, achievements, and the challenges it faced, leading to its closure in 2017. We’ll gain a deeper understanding of what this institution represented in the landscape of legal education and the reason behind its closure.

Cityscape with Skyscrapers and Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina- Charlotte School of Law

Overview of Charlotte School of Law

The teaching approach at Charlotte Law School was notably progressive. Emphasizing a learn-by-doing philosophy, the law school in Charlotte, North Carolina, aimed to bridge the gap between academic theory and real-world legal practice. This approach was deeply ingrained in their law school curriculum, encouraging students to interact with the law beyond textbooks, ensuring that graduates left with hands-on experience. 

The school’s emphasis on community service further demonstrated the commitment to practical learning. Students were required to complete pro bono work, reflecting the school’s dedication to societal contribution and legal advocacy. The Cooperative Legal Education Program was a hallmark of this approach, integrating practical skills and community values into the core of legal education.

Distinctive in its offerings, the Charlotte Law School was one of only two ABA-approved institutions in North Carolina that offered evening part-time programs. This initiative catered to working professionals, providing a pathway to legal education without the need to forsake their careers. Although it did not offer law school online, it provided a day part-time program, accommodating students who faced constraints in committing to a full-time schedule. 

The Charlotte School of Law also went beyond academic instruction, operating a Professional Development Center that offered career counseling, job placement services, and networking opportunities. This center was instrumental in connecting students and employers, facilitating recruitment through various channels. Further contributing to the academic discourse, the Charlotte Law Review, edited by students, was published biannually. This journal served as an academic platform for the students and welcomed contributions from the wider legal community.

Programs Offered at Law School Charlotte, NC

The Charlotte School of Law offered a variety of programs to cater to diverse students with varying educational needs and life circumstances. These programs provided flexibility, practical experience, and global perspectives, ensuring students received a well-rounded legal education. 

1. Juris Doctor Program

The Juris Doctor program at Charlotte Law was known for its flexible options, allowing students to start in the spring and offering part-time day and evening classes. This flexibility was essential for accommodating students who graduated from undergraduate programs in December, enabling them to begin their legal studies immediately and potentially graduate earlier. 

The part-time evening option was particularly notable as it was one of only two ABA-accredited programs in North Carolina designed specifically for working professionals. This program, which could be completed in four years, met in the evenings to fit around full-time work schedules. The part-time day program, offering 9-12 credit hours per semester, allowed students to mix with full-time students and was an ideal choice for those balancing other commitments.

2. Masters of Law

The LL.M. in American Legal Studies was specifically tailored for foreign lawyers who had already earned a law degree in their home countries. This program acknowledged the increasing globalization of legal practice and aimed to deepen these lawyers’ understanding of U.S. law. Students in the LL.M. program chose between the New York Track, preparing them for the New York Bar Exam, and the Flexible Track, which was more scholarly and focused on creating publishable work.

3. International Programs

Charlotte Law’s international programs offered students the opportunity to study law in various global contexts. These programs are the following:

  • International Business Transactions
  • Study Abroad in Lithuania
  • Student Abroad in Siena, Italy
  • Study Abroad with Santa Clara University School of Law
  • American & Caribbean Law Initiative
  • Wine Law in France
  • Comparative Constitutional Law in Turkey
  • Comparative Children’s Issues Law in Vanuatu

4. 3+3 Accelerated Legal Scholars Program

In collaboration with Johnson C. Smith University (JCSU), Charlotte Law offered a dual degree program that enabled students to earn both an undergraduate degree and a law degree in six years. This program was tailored for high-performing students at JCSU, allowing them to complete their undergraduate requirements in three years before transitioning to the law program. Regardless of their majors for law school, students who met the law school requirements, which included meeting the qualifying LSAT scores and a requisite cumulative undergraduate GPA.

5. Military Champions Program

Recognizing the unique needs of military and veteran students, Charlotte Law implemented the Military Champions Program. This initiative was dedicated to supporting these students throughout their law school journey, acknowledging their service, and providing tailored assistance, including access to specific law school scholarships.

6. Paralegal Certificate Program

The Paralegal Certificate Program at Charlotte Law was distinguished for its innovative approach, being one of only two programs in North Carolina that offered ‘real-time’ courses. This format allowed online students to participate alongside on-site students, fostering an interactive and comprehensive learning environment. This program exemplified Charlotte Law’s commitment to adapting legal education for the 21st Century.

Raw Data Law School Rankings of NC

No. Law School Acceptance Rate Student/ Faculty Ratio Employment @Graduation Employment @10 Months Bar Passage Rate State Bar
16 Campbell University 62.0% 14.3 13.6% 72.1% 85.7% 69.1%
23 Charlotte School of Law 65.0% 0.0 N/A 51.3% 57.0% 69.1%
34 Duke University 23.3% 9.1 86.5% 93.0% 94.3% 72.7%
36 Elon University 47.0% 10.5 20.2% 52.9% 66.7% 69.1%
73 North Carolina Central U. 55.8% 12.5 N/A 46.5% 74.3% 69.1%
154 U. of N. Carolina-Chapel Hill 44.6% 11.1 47.3% 77.0% 88.2% 69.1%
187 Wake Forest University 56.1% 10.9 37.4% 83.4% 78% 69.1%

Released in the spring of 2016, these rankings offered a comprehensive nationwide perspective on these schools’ standing. Charlotte, NC Law School garnered attention for its noteworthy position. It achieved the 23rd rank nationwide in law school rankings, a commendable feat that highlighted its academic and educational strengths. 

With an acceptance rate of 65.0%, it stood out for its accessibility compared to some top-tier law schools. Furthermore, the school’s bar passage rate was 57%, reflecting the performance of its first-time test takers. This rate provided a tangible measure of the school’s effectiveness in preparing students for the pivotal bar examination, a critical step in any legal career.

A student using a laptop along the school hallway Charlotte School of Law

What was Charlotte University Law School’s LSAT Score?

During its operational years, the median LSAT score for applicants accepted into the school was 143. This median provides a baseline understanding of the competitive nature of the school’s admissions process. In addition to the median score, the LSAT scores for accepted students typically ranged between the 25th and 75th percentile, falling between 140 and 145. 

These figures reflect the Charlotte School of Law requirements regarding LSAT scores, providing a window into the academic caliber of the students the school sought to enroll. To help you achieve a high LSAT score, consider investing in LSAT tutoring. You’ll have the support and guidance necessary to boost your confidence and increase your score, opening doors to your desired law school. 

What was the GPA of Charlotte University Law School?

The Charlotte School of Law admissions process evaluated several academic criteria, including its applicant’s GPA. The median GPA of enrolled law students was 2.84, reflecting their academic achievement. The range of GPAs for the 25th to 75th percentile of admitted students spanned from 2.51 to 3.17. 

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Why Did Charlotte School of Law Close?

The closure of Charlotte School of Law was a complex and unfortunate event stemming from a series of significant challenges and allegations. In 2016, the American Bar Association placed the school on probation. The primary issues cited were related to the school’s admission policies and practices. These concerns were severe enough to jeopardize the institution’s standing with the ABA, leading to a probationary status that ultimately played a crucial role in the school’s closure in 2017. 

A former professor and a former Charlotte School of Law student filed a complaint against the ABA, further complicating matters. The lawsuit accused the ABA of being negligent in certifying the school, claiming that the ABA should have been aware of the school’s failure to meet accreditation standards. The plaintiffs argued that the ABA’s accreditation misled students and faculty into joining an institution more focused on profit than providing a quality legal education. The suit also claimed that the school manipulated its bar exam pass rates and employment statistics, practices that were potentially harmful to students and misleading to the public. 

The lawsuit also contended that the school’s actions defrauded the federal government, as ABA accreditation is a prerequisite for federal student loan eligibility. The fallout from these issues was significant, with over 150 former students filing lawsuits against the college, alleging fraud, among other claims. The school’s closure, therefore, was not just an administrative decision but the culmination of various legal and compliance issues that undermined its ability to operate effectively as a law school.

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Conclusion

The closure of the Charlotte School of Law was an unfortunate event. It marked the end of an educational institution that once had aspirations to shape future legal minds. This closure is a reminder of the stringent standards the American Bar Association upholds in ensuring quality legal education.

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