We don’t intend to keep beating a dead horse. Or to kick a law school while it’s defunct. Or to imply that it didn’t produce some outstanding graduates and attorneys.
But nearly nine months after the Charlotte School of Law was forcibly shuttered, it is still underperforming.
The month before it closed, 34 percent of its grads passed the bar exam. North Carolina’s bar is not an easy test. But of the 94 Charlotte grads sitting for at least their second try, 77 of them re-failed it.
The February before that, just 21 percent managed to sufficiently demonstrate that they are qualified to practice law.
Toward the end of its life — when Charlotte Law’s lights were dim and flickering, but not completely burned out — tales abound of student lawsuits, faculty firings, and in-house food pantries set up to help students survive, literally, as life-sustaining federal dollars were snatched from them because of the school’s failures. Phone calls went to voicemail and emails went unreturned.
Reading all the reports, one could easily picture the South College Street high-rise housing Charlotte Law as some sort of dilapidating soup kitchen rather than an institution of higher learning. Or a nonprofit shelter for the down-on-their-luck instead of a big, shiny, state-of-the art building where bright, legal minds were to be molded.
The ABA put Charlotte on probation; said it was admitting incapable students and failing to properly educate them.
The Department of Education stopped funding the school.
The University of North Carolina Board of Governors declined to continue licensing it.
Still, with its vitals low and fading fast, Charlotte officials denied, until the very end, rumors of its reported demise.
The attorney general told the world that with or without Charlotte’s permission, it was going to close.
And it did. Vanished like a ghost.
But when the results of February’s bar exam were released recently, we learned that 84 Charlotte Law graduates sat for the test, still hoping to realize their dreams of becoming licensed attorneys.
They tried to drown out the noise and do what only a select few of their classmates had done before them — pass a bar exam.
Eighty-four men and women armed with Charlotte Law educations battled the bar.
Eight of them won.
So, while the Charlotte School of Law is no longer with us, it is quite clear that its specter is alive and well.