JACKSONVILLE – The dean of a Florida law school has responded after the institution was accused of bribing students in efforts to help bar passing rates.
Scott DeVito, dean of the Florida Coastal School of Law, made it clear that the school is not involved in the lawsuit of Paula Lorona against Arizona Summit Law School. Lorona took legal action against the Phoenix school with claims such as consumer fraud, common law fraud, and negligent misrepresentation for allegedly skewing students’ grades and scores for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and the bar.
In her documents, Lorona claimed that Florida Coastal School of Law, which is a sister university of Arizona Summit Law School, gave students who were doing poorly academically $5,000 to hold off on taking the bar exam with hopes of boosting the decreasing rates at which students passed the test.
“Florida Coastal School of Law is not a party to, and is otherwise not involved in, the Lorona lawsuit,” DeVito told the Florida Record. “In light of that there isn’t much of a story.”
DeVito went on to speak on the positive rates, statistics and news surrounding Florida Coastal School of Law and the advancements it has made to boost the percentage of students who are successful at taking the bar exam.
“In the last year we have improved our bar passage offerings for our students by providing them BarBri upon graduation at no additional cost, shifting to a faculty-driven bar advising model, redesigning the bar classes we offered to make them more relevant and more rigorous, and adding new bar classes, including ones focused on the uniform bar examination, Texas law, California law, and Georgia law.”
BarBri is a Dallas course that helps students prepare for taking the bar exam.
DeVito also broke down the actual numbers and and rates that help the Florida Coastal School of Law stand out from other universities of its kind.
“The school’s odyssey over the past 20 years is actually a pretty interesting story in itself." he said. "And just two or so of the results were published for the Florida MPRE (Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination) exam … Our students had the second highest pass rate in the state on the November MPRE, beating out Miami, Florida State, Stetson, Nova, and Barry. We scored 84.2 percent, which is 7 points above the state average. This is indicative of what has been done, all the positive changes.”
As for Lorona, according to law.com an Arizona judge dismissed some aspects of her case, such as consumer fraud and common law fraud. But the Arizona Summit Law School isn’t completely out of the woods just yet. It is still facing her claims that it violated the Americans With Disabilities Act as well as participated in gender discrimination.
Both Florida Coastal School of Law and Arizona Summit Law School are under the ownership of Infilaw Corp. Charlotte School of Law is also under the umbrella of the company and was named in Lorona's lawsuit against the Arizona law school.