By: Brittany Moore
Many students are aware Florida Coastal and Charlotte Law (“CSL”) are owned by the same parent company—InfiLaw. However, what most students don’t know is that Florida Coastal and Charlotte Law are pioneers of a new program: The Assured Outcomes Partnership (“Program”). Currently, Florida Coastal and Charlotte Law are the only two law schools in the nation with a program like this.
What is the Assured Outcomes Partnership? It is a Program where a student may receive $10,000 if they meet the requirements of the Program and fail the bar exam twice. The Program at CSL applies to students who take either the North or South Carolina Bar Exam.
I will admit, when I first heard of this Program, I was a little mad; actually, very mad. It made me mad because I equated this Program to incentivizing people who fail the bar exam twice, while those who pass the Bar get nothing more than a pat on the back. I also assumed my tuition was going towards paying students who do not pass the Bar. Because I had such an intense initial reaction, I wanted to find out more about the Program, so my opinions would be more informed. To learn more, on February 10, 2014, I met with Assistant Dean Odessa Alm of Student Success, head of the Program.
Prior to joining CSL in 2013, Dean Alm served as the Director of Academic Success at Florida Coastal (her alma mater) for nine years. Dean Alm designed a comprehensive academic success and bar prep program at Florida Coastal during that time. Dean Alm said the purpose of the Program is to help students who utilize all of the resources available to continue to work towards a successful path to passing the bar. Dean Alm stated, “I don’t want anyone to get $10,000.00.” At first this statement shocked me because initially I thought the Program would result in numerous students receiving the money while bar passage rates at CSL declined., However, Dean Alm stated she believed in the effectiveness of the bar passage programs offered by CSL and, because of that belief, the students who follow the Program will have more resources available to help them pass the bar.
In order to qualify for the program, the student must obtain an acknowledgement form from Dean Alm and submit it to her. The student must also meet the following requirements:
- Attend 75% of the voluntary Charlotte Law Academic Success (CPAS) workshops offered during the student’s first and second year at CSL;
- If placed on academic probation or academic alert status, the student complied with all probationary or alert status counseling requirements;
- Score greater than 50% on the Multistate Bar Examination Preview (MBEP) at the end of your first year of law school or score greater than 55% on a subsequent attempt at the MBEP;
- If you earn a first year law school G.P.A. of less than 2.31, you must successfully pass course equivalents of Remedies, Real Estate Finance and Family Law;
- Complete the 3-day Kaplan Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) course during the bar season immediately prior to your first and second Bar exam attempts;
- Attendance rate of 100% at Operation PASS Workshops during the bar seasons immediately before the first and second Bar exam attempts;
- Complete 100% of the Operation PASS Essays during the bar season before your first and second attempts, and timely submit the essays for feedback;
- Successfully complete the Carolinas Distinctions or MBE Strategies course with a grade of C or better;
- Been enrolled in a commercial bar review course/BEAR (CSL Bar Exam Advanced Review) before the first and second attempts at a bar exam; and
- Provide CSL with written permission to access the first and second attempted bar exam scores and essays.
That is quite a list. The Program requires student participation beginning in their first year. So, sorry upper-classmen, we can’t participate. However, a student’s failure to comply with all requirements disqualifies them from the Program. Now, I can see why Dean Alm doesn’t think a student will reach the $10,000; because the Program is set up to require interested students to complete requirements the Bar Passage Program at Charlotte Law thinks a student should be doing anyway in order to pass the bar. If the student complies with all of the requirements, passing the bar exam within two attempts is obtainable.
After my interview with Dean Alm, my feelings about the Program did change a little. I no longer feel like the program is a “waste of tuition” or a program that would be subject to abuse by students. However, I am still concerned that some students may seek and find loopholes that will circumvent the purpose of the Program in assisting students pass either the NC or SC Bar Exam. After the interview, my opinion changed; now I agree with Dean Alm. If a student complies with all of the requirements, and puts the time and effort into the Program then it is less likely a student will receive the $10,000. My new outlook is that the Program will actually increase CSL’s bar passage rates, in which case both the school and the students win.