The American Bar Association’s accrediting arm has decided to pull approval from Thomas Jefferson School of Law for not complying with standards related to financial resources, program rigor and admissions.
In May, the ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar decided to withdraw Thomas Jefferson’s approval. It then announced the decision Monday, starting a 10-business-day clock for the school in San Diego to file either a teach-out plan or an appeal of the decision. Thomas Jefferson will appeal, according to its interim dean, Linda M. Keller.
Thomas Jefferson will keep its accreditation throughout the appeal, which is expected to take from six to nine months.
“The law school is disappointed by this capricious decision and strongly disagrees with the council’s findings,” it said in a statement. “The law school has taken concrete and significant steps in response to the council’s concerns and has fundamentally changed, transforming into a smaller, stronger school.”
The statement went on to say Thomas Jefferson has made several changes in response to the accreditor’s concerns, including eliminating $42 million in debt, relocating to a “more favorable and affordable downtown location,” revising its curriculum, and improving its admissions practices. It pointed to a four-point improvement in its 25th- and 50th-percentile LSAT scores and a two-point improvement in its 75th-percentile LSAT score between fall 2016 and fall 2018.
Thomas Jefferson still posted some of the lowest LSAT scores and undergraduate GPAs of any law school for its class entering in the fall of 2018, according to ABA data. Its first-time bar passage rate was 26.43 percent in the 2018 calendar year, among the lowest in the country and almost 37 percentage points below the California average.
In October, Thomas Jefferson decided not to enroll students in the spring, which it had done in the past.