For the first time in at least 20 years, an accredited law school is shutting down, claiming it is simply losing too much money to stay open. But faculty and students claim that’s a lie, and are planning to sue the school for fraud.
Indiana Tech Law School in Fort Wayne was only started in 2013, and just graduated its first class last spring. But just seven months after receiving provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association (ABA), school officials announced that it will shut down next spring due to more than $20 million in losses. The closure wasn’t much of a tragedy. Out of the school’s original graduating class, just three out of 13 students passed the bar exam, meaning the others spent as much as $120,000 getting a degree they are not allowed to even use.
While the school was built to accommodate 350 law students, just 71 were enrolled this fall. But now most of them won’t even have a chance to finish. The school announced Monday it will be shutting down after the conclusion of the spring semester.
Now, insiders at the school have told the legal news website Above the Law that Indiana Tech was little more than a scam, using a nearly open admissions policy that sought to put paying customers in seats regardless of whether they had any hope of being practicing attorneys. (RELATED: America’s Ten Worst Accredited Law Schools)
“The school is a scam,” one employee told Above the Law, “but none of the law school faculty knew that when they joined in 2013 … Indiana Tech is a corrupt diploma mill that should be investigated by the Department of Education and the Higher Learning Commission.”
According to the employee, Indiana Tech admitted students with scores as low as 132 on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT), which is scored on a 120 to 180 scale. A score of 132 is barely above the expected result if one randomly guessed on every question.
“It almost seemed like getting butts in seats was more important than complying with ABA standards, along the lines of, ‘Fuck the ABA, fuck the students, we want revenue,'” Above the Law’s source said. “We said, ‘You know, we’re going to become another Cooley [a law school famous for its low standards] and we’re going to lose accreditation,’ but they didn’t care.”
Above the Law says disgruntled employees and students plan to sue Indiana Tech and allege that it committed RICO violations, effectively accusing it of being a fraudulent and borderline-criminal enterprise. They point out that when it obtained accreditation, Indiana Tech claimed it was ready to finance millions of financial losses lasting through 2020. But just months later, the school is citing $20 million in losses to justify the shutdown this year. The obvious conclusion, they say, is that Indiana Tech simply lied about its plans for the school, fooling both faculty members and students.
Despite a significant decline in the number of students attending law school, Indiana Tech is the first ABA-accredited law school to shut down thanks to the current legal recession. Several other low-ranking schools, such as Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, have come close but have managed to stay open. Some experts believe an excessive number of law schools has contributed to an economic mismatch, in which there are far more attorneys than there are legal jobs for them to fill.
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