SAN FRANCISCO — An official with the American Bar Association informed Golden Gate University School of Law this week that it was “significantly out of compliance” with certain performance thresholds needed to maintain accreditation.
In an April 10 letter addressed to GGU’s president and law school dean, Barry Currier, the ABA’s managing director of accreditation and legal education wrote that the law school was “not in compliance with” an ABA admissions standard requiring schools to deny entry to students who don’t appear capable of completing their programs or passing the bar. According to the most recent available report GGU made to the ABA, the school lost 30.5 percent of its first-year students to “non-transfer attrition.” Just 51 percent of first-time test-takers from GGU passed the California bar exam in July 2017.
In a prepared statement addressing the ABA’s letter, GGU Law School Dean Anthony Niedwiecki, who joined the school last August from The John Marshall Law School in Chicago, said that the ABA’s findings were based on the school’s first-time bar pass rates and attrition rates from 2015 and 2016, and that they do “not impact GGU Law’s accreditation.”
“[The letter] simply requires that we continue providing details on our admissions and bar passage goals and the steps we are taking to meet these goals,” Niedwiecki said.
The dean pointed out that the school’s first-time pass rate this year was 20 points higher than it was in July 2016. Niedwiecki said the school had lowered its transfer rate from 13 percent to 9 percent since his arrival, and improved its job placement rate by 14 percent. The school, he said, has also launched “one of the most comprehensive bar preparation and academic development programs in the country” in partnership with bar review company Themis.
The ABA has asked Golden Gate to submit a letter addressing the applicable standards by Jan. 15, 2019, and, possibly appear before its Accreditation Committee at its May 2019 meeting.
“If the information provided in the writer report demonstrates compliance with the Standards listed above, then the Committee may find the Law School to be in compliance with the Standards and cancel the hearing,” the ABA’s Currier wrote. The ABA’s letter was first reported by ABA Journal.
A copy of the ABA’s letter and Niedwiecki’s response are available below: