N.C. Central University’s law school survived a critical review by the American Bar Association, holding on to its accreditation, the university announced Monday.
Earlier this year, the ABA notified NCCU that its law school was “significantly out of compliance” with ABA standards after the school posted low bar passage rates. The university responded with a plan to raise admissions standards and reduce the incoming first-year class by one-third to ensure that those admitted were qualified.
Also, Phyliss Craig-Taylor stepped down as dean after six years at the helm. Last month, the university named alumnus and former judge Elaine O’Neal as its interim dean.
The ABA’s accreditation committee considered NCCU’s status June 28-29 and concluded that “the concrete steps taken by the Law School with respect to its admissions policy and practices” demonstrated compliance, according to a notice from the ABA.
NCCU Chancellor Johnson Akinleye sent a message to the campus community about the ABA’s decision, saying university officials presented evidence “of our commitment to ensuring successful admission, matriculation, graduation and bar passage of our law school students.”
Akinleye also thanked the ABA and members of the law school community for their work in the past few months.
NCCU’s law school trouble came amidst a national decline in law school applicants and diminishing demand for lawyers.
Of NCCU law graduates who took the bar exam for the first time in 2017, 54 percent passed, compared to 59 percent in 2016, according to a report NCCU sent to the ABA.
The school’s attrition rate increased, with nearly 38 percent of first-year students failing or dropping out in 2016-17.
The corrective action plan includes tighter admissions standards. All incoming students must post an LSAT of at least 142, a school official said, but the school has not implemented new grade point average thresholds. Recent graduates were provided with bar preparation classes, and incoming students will be given online resources, tutorials, academic coaches and will be required to meet with academic advisers to make sure they stay on track.