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The 20 Worst Law Schools in the United States

Belmont University

Becoming a professional attorney is one of the most popular goals regarding career choices, and it always has been. Besides making much more money than a paper jockey or fast food employee, there’s the travel, beautiful secretaries, and high end clientele, if that’s how far you want to go.

But there is also a couple fairly steep prices to pay in order to get there, so you want to be sure that you get the very best legal education possible. Winding up in a low-end, second-rate law school may result in you one day discovering that you’re a lowly tax attorney with a very cheesy commercial on network television.

So, it’s pretty vital that you not only work hard, but work hard enough to get yourself into one of the better law schools in the country.

But how do you know which ones are worth their weight in gold and which aren’t worth, well, crap? Research is probably the best way to find out, along with getting all the mailings you can get your hands on regarding the school you are considering.

You want to find out as much as possible about each choice. Also, don’t hesitate to ask around. There is much information to be gleaned from the Internet that has been provided by others who have been there.

If you want to attend law school at Podunk University, Google it and see what kind of reviews it has been given. Those who have been there are only more than eager to share, especially if they got gypped out of a quality education.

Be Careful of Predatory Practices

Last year ‘Standard 509 reports were put out by the American Bar Association which made public the pertinent details regarding every last law school in the United States, and the truth of the matter is that the information in those reports enables one to look at and understand the various ways that certain law schools are skirting mandatory regulations regarding admissions practices by being predatory in reference to the students they choose to admit.

The chairman for the National Advisory Council for Law School Transparency used this information to compile a list of ten of the scantest law schools out there that really pick from the bottom of the barrel when it comes to choosing which students (they accept some of the lowest SAT scores that apply from around the nation) they will have attend. Our list will include some of those schools.

And we want to do our part, too. So, we’ve done a bit of the work for you to save you valuable research time and compiled a list of twenty of the worst law schools operating in the United States today, ranked as #20 through #1, with #1 being the worst of the worst.

After reading the following you should be able to eliminate some bad ones and turn your attention to the better ones…or even the best. Read on.

20. UDC: The University of the District of Columbia

While this particular college’s law program maintained pretty much the same ratings grade- and credential-wise, they had to cut some corners to get the job done (by eliminating 29 students from their roster).

This was the only feasible way they could maintain their standards. The faculty lounge reports that there are simply too many schools of law in DC, and that this is the one that really needs to watch out if it wants to keep its head off the chopping block.

19. Southern University

Last year, this school tied with another for the spot they earned. This year they managed to raise their LSAT scores by 1 point (25%), but on the same token, their GPA dropped by .03 points (so while they moved up on the list thanks to the LSAT achievement, they basically lost the credit right away with their sinking grade point average. Too bad.

18. Widener Commonwealth

This particular law school/college is making this list for the first time this year, which is nothing to brag about, unfortunately. The legal class lost eleven students, and even with that fact they failed to reach the admission standards required, which is typically a bit easier when the classes are smaller. It held its 25% and its 50% percentiles, but its 75 percentile experienced a slow and steady decline.

17. Texas Southern and Appalachian School of Law

As far as Texas Southern is concerned, we can say that they were found guilty of not complying with a variety of the Standards. Among the violations were a 501b violation which resulted in them receiving an order to advance with remedial action, presenting an attack plan for the issue.

On the sunny side, their LSATs were up this year from last, as were their grade point averages. Since they lost thirty-nine students this year as well, we can honestly say they have put forth an honest effort to improve, but the bottom line is that they simply have a long road ahead of them if they want to dodge further orders of remedial action.

16. Appalachian School of Law

On the other hand, Appalachian School of Law holds fast right where it stood before. They have been found to be out of Standard 501 compliance, but they raised their 25 and 50 percent LSATs while losing two points on their 75%.

Only fifty students in total enrolled, however, that number was down by 23 students from the year before. The fact of the matter is that Appalachian is facing several troubling issues that it may be difficult to survive.

15. Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School

Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School makes it in at number 16 on our worst law school list due to a couple of things. But before that, it should be noted that while the school has been in operation for sometime, they have always boasted an ‘affordable, no-frills legal education’.

We can take this to mean that the price was lower, they offered night school and part-time classes, and there weren’t any extra benefits for attending there like there are (or may be) in some large state or private colleges.

Regardless, JMLS received accreditation from the American Bar Association in 2009, so it’s legit. The trouble lies in the fact that the school has struggled with the issue of their students not passing the bar exam.

Knowing that the bar is difficult, and taking that into consideration, it is the statistics regarding the passing that show the problem, and their stats have been less than good, resulting in more than one citation from the ABA.

14. Concordia University School of Law

Concordia just became accredited by the ABA this year, so it is now a bit of a safer bet than it was before. Keeping that in mind, we feel it important to mention that Concordial also made the list for the 20 Worst Law Schools.

With students who have only fair to poor LSAT scores, sagging GPAs, and the fact that they JUST became accredited in February, Concordia has remained on the list consistently.

While this can be a huge issue to fix, needing to rectify several citations at a time, Concordia University School of Law seems to be making a genuine effort and showing real progress. Who knows what the future holds for this law school?

13. Western Michigan University Cooley Law School

Their LSATs may have gone up by a point in the 75%, and their GPAs by .06%, but Western Michigan University Cooley Law School ended up increasing their admission for the year increased in number by 83 students. Basically, this harms their ability to meet the standard requirement, and does little to nothing to help. So, once again, WMU Cooley makes the list with flying colors.

12. American University

While seeming to rate a bit less than average on the GPA and LSAT scale standards that have been set, that is really the least of their problems at American. Stats show that for the year 2020, it is estimated that only 66% will pass the bar exams for their state if they attended and graduated from this law school. With an acceptance rate of only 48%, you would think they would be doing a bit better, but not so. Only 42% find themselves employed after graduation.

11. Campbell University (Wiggins)

When it comes to the LSATs and student GPA averages, Campbell is ranking, to put it boldly yet politely, way too high for our taste. They find themselves in the 100s on most lists that break things down for law students, and we all know that isn’t good.

With a nearly 60% acceptance rate, they don’t seem to finicky, either. Most graduates from Campbell seem to put out rather average or below average numbers, for the most part, but their bar passage rate is impressive at more than 82% (even though most students take the North Carolina bar.

10. Barry University

This Orlando, Florida law school ranks #145 when it comes to selecting their students, according to Public Legal. They accept around 57% of their applicants. While their bar passage rate for 2020 is not yet known, in 2017 it was about 62%.

They do have a pretty bad student-to-instructor ratio, which likely contributes to this particular university making our list today, as it is difficult to properly train one in anything, much less the complexities of law, in such large classes.

9. Catholic U of America (Columbus)

Catholic U makes the list due to several factors, one of which is a slightly-below-average post-grad employment rate. While it is higher than some, it simply doesn’t hold up to other law schools with similar numbers score-wise.

The legal institute at Catholic U only accepts about fifteen new applicants per year, which is a good number, but their school bar pass rate is fairly low at 2.4%, especially when compared to the state bar pass rate. Their bar pass rate has actually increased over 7% in the last three years, however.

8. Brooklyn Law School

This school, according to Top Law Schools has one of the absolute worst curves imaginable, and that after being changed recently. The fact of the matter is that the curve at BLS is considered to be one of the very worst in all of New York. But in their defense, they do have a fairly high bar passage rate, at 78.7%, though it is down from 84.8% in 2017.

7. Capital University

When it comes to GPAs and SATs, as well as bar passage statistics, Capital actually comes in fairly high. The problem is when their numbers are compared to every other law school in the country; they simply fall short.

Located in Columbus, Ohio, Capital is Lutheran-affiliated, and was even voted the ‘Best Value Law School’ in 2009 by National Jurist magazine. With that being said, this is a fairly good school with some good things being said about them, but it will take a lot of work for them to jump to any relevant spot on the worst school list.

6. Arizona Summit Law School (formerly the Phoenix School of Law)

Called the Arizona Summit Law School since 2013, this law school has the displeasure of admitting that forty-one students failed out of their program last year, while thirty-five of them left by transferring out, and twenty discontinued for several other reasons. They only have a bar passage rate of 25.7% in 2017, which was the lowest of all law schools; only 35% found post-grad employment that same year.

5. California Western

With a student/faculty ratio of 9.5:1 and a tuition that is scary-high for what they have to offer and the numbers they present, California Western hops on the list pretty easily.

Simple enough to get into, which acceptance at nearly 60%, one shouldn’t expect the best legal education, as their bar passage rate dropped dramatically by approximately 12%. According to the place is “going to the dogs”. Yikes.

4. Belmont University

Based in Nashville, Belmont University is number #25 on the bar passage list, with nearly 93% of their graduates passing the difficult test. They do have a fairly high acceptance rate of 52%, as is their student/faculty ration of 11.5:1, making it one of the schools which struggles with individualized attention and other educational models. Couple that with a smaller-than-average law library and other factors, and one can see how Belmont U made this list.

3. Albany Law School of Union University

This school, on the other hand, has a well-stocked law library and ranks number twenty-five in that particular area. However, high acceptance rates, average test scores and GPAs, and an atrociously high annual tuition make Albany Law School a shoe-in for our list.

While they do have a 75% bar passage rate, the student-to-faculty rate is 8.1:1. With only 53% of students finding employment at graduation and only 80% after ten months more, the high tuition simply doesn’t pull it through enough to make it worth the cost.

2. Boston University

Here is another law school with a great library which ranks #12 in the nation. But as for whether it’s a good school or not is up for debate. Again, this is a school with a high tuition, and while they seem to have pretty successful numbers, the high tuition makes for very difficult payback, and this sets many law students up for future failure.

This is especially true if their post-grad employment isn’t as prestigious as one might hope after attending a school with good stats.

1. Ave Maria School of Law

With a high acceptance rate and average student to faculty ratio, Ave Maria School of Law must make up for slack somewhere. However, it isn’t in the area of bar passage (only 53%) or high-scoring LSATs.

With those being a major focus for the ABA standards, Ave Maria is just about struck out before they even go up to bat. If going to a good, solid law school is something that is an option for you, you may want to skip the application fee to this particular one and move up the list.

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Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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