Thursday, May 16, 2013

re: Above the Law's article today

     On May 16, 2013, Joe Patrice wrote: "Hints to the source of Wake's irritation with Skinner can be found at his blog where Skinner makes the case for revoking Wake's accreditation because it fails to keep track of student complaints.  If true, this is a violation of ABA Standards, though the blog doesn't provide much evidence that it's true."

     I contacted Above the Law on June 9, 2012 and offered to provide evidence of violation of accreditation standards.  The email, however, was sent to Mr. Mystal.  I wrote, "I'm working on a formal complaint to the ABA.  When it is submitted, I will send a copy of the complaint to Above the Law if you are interested in the story.  Written documentation can also be provided.  Please let me know how you want to proceed."

     I never got a response.  Mr. Patrice was probably unaware of the offer when he wrote his article.  He did note, however, that if the information posted on my blog were true, it would be a violation of accreditation standards.  The information posted on my blog is true, and there was a violation of accreditation standards.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


      Ron Wright, a law professor at Wake Forest, was a visiting professor at Washington and Lee from August 2006 to December 2006.  Blake Morant was a professor and administrator during that time. 

     According to a news release, “Suzanne Reynolds, professor of law, chaired the committee” that “recommended Morant’s appointment following a nationwide search.” [FN1]

     Shortly after Blake Morant’s appointment was announced, Ron Wright was promoted to Executive Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, a position he held from July 2007 to June 2010.

     When he stepped down, Suzanne Reynolds was promoted to Executive Associate Dean for Academic Affairs by Dean Morant.

[FN1] Wake Forest University appoints new dean of law school, Wake Forest University News Releases (May 15, 2007), (last visited Feb. 24, 2013).

Sunday, February 17, 2013

It's "our" year.

      Ann Gibbs, Associate Dean of Administrative and Student Services, sent this email last Thursday:

               Dear Students:

           Every few years, the Princeton Review surveys Wake Forest
           law students to gather information about their experiences 
           at Wake Forest.  This is "our" year for a new survey through 
           the link provided below.  I would certainly encourage you to 
           give honest opinions, with the caveat that this may not be the
           place to memorialize more minor complaints about 
           your experience (I'm HAPPY to hear those and to try to 
           work through any concerns you may have!).   These 
           surveys quickly become used by organizations to rank or 
           categorize schools.  Please feel free to make thoughtful 
           comments with the awareness that they have an impact that 
           may resonate broadly and impact the manner in which our 
           school is perceived by others.


     The surveys are part of the research the Princeton Review uses to prepare a guide to selecting law schools.  According to the review of the 2013 edition posted on amazon:

           We can help you make the right decision.   

           The Princeton Review's The Best 168 Law Schools gives you
           student survey-driven profiles of the nation's top 168 law 
           schools as well as detailed statistical information about 
           accredited law schools.  Each profile provides 
           information on academics and campus life, and also 
           provides answers to all the practical questions you should 
           ask when applying to law school...

     Prospective students may have an interest in learning about the "more minor complaints," and that interest was not served by Dean Gibbs' warning
-- "These surveys quickly become used by organizations to rank or categorize schools."  The warning appealed to the self-interest instead of candor.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

McNabb v. United States

     "The history of liberty has largely been the history of observance of procedural safeguards."  McNabb v. United States, 318 U.S. 332, 347 (1943).

Monday, January 28, 2013


Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants;
electric light the most efficient policeman.  

Louis D. Brandeis, "What Publicity Can Do," Harper's Weekly, 10 (Dec. 20, 1913).

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Wake Forest's violation of Standard 512; misreporting compliance with the standard

     Standard 512 was developed to satisfy federal consumer protection regulations and requires law schools to publish a policy for handling written complaints that implicate the standards.  It became effective "immediately" August 8, 2011.  (Scroll down the Accreditation Archives page to "Standards and Rules."  Click the "Standards 105, 306, 512 and Rules 20, 24" link to get a pdf of the memo.  The effective date of Standard 512 is given at the top of the first page.)

     Wake Forest refused to comply with Standard 512.  Its 2011-2012 policy didn't mention written complaints or the standards at all.  For months, however, Suzanne Reynolds, insisted that the law school was meeting the standard's requirements. 

     I filed a complaint with the ABA, but Wake Forest included a policy to handle written complaints in the 2012-2013 Student Handbook.  Stephanie Giggetts, Assistant Consultant on Legal Education, responded for the ABA:

          . . . the Rule 24 complaint that you filed against Wake Forest

          University School of Law has been dismissed under Rule 24 

          Following careful consideration of the complaint, a request

          for information to the law school, and the school's response
          to that request, I have concluded that the complaint and the
          school's response considered together do not support a claim
          that the school is currently in non-compliance with the
          Standards. . . .

          A record of your complaint will be retained in our office and

          will be available to the Accreditation Committee for their 
          review of the Standards generally or in conjunction with the
          periodic assessment of the law school.

      I replied:

           You wrote, “I have concluded that the complaint and the
          school’s response considered together do not support a claim 
          that the school is currently in non-compliance with the 
          Standards.” (emphasis added).

          Wake Forest would have to “maintain a record of student 
          complaints submitted during the most recent accreditation 
          period” to be currently in compliance with Standard 512.  
          That would require contacting the students who attended
          Wake Forest during the 2011-2012 year, letting them know
          about the standard, and giving them the opportunity to file a 
          written complaint pursuant to that standard.  Wake Forest
          has not done any of those things.   

     The point of Standard 512 is to establish a record of student complaints to increase accountability for all the standards (34 C.F.R. 602.16(a)(1)(ix)).  Ms. Giggetts' interpretation of Standard 512 frustrates the purpose of the federal regulation.  Greater transparency is needed to ensure that the ABA complies with federal law.

     The decision also sidestepped the second violation alleged in the complaint: misreporting compliance.  Wake Forest misreported compliance with a consumer protection standard designed to establish a record of student complaints about possible violations of the standards. 

     Accuracy in reporting is critical because site visits occur infrequently -- only about every seven years, or so.  As a result, consumers and accrediting agencies rely heavily on the accuracy of reported information.  The ABA's handling of Wake Forest's systematic misrepresentation denied consumers the right to make informed decisionsConsumers need to know when a law school is violating consumer protection standards and providing false information about compliance.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Rule 24 deters students from reporting violations.

     Rule 24 deters students from reporting law school violations.  
It warns students that if a law school retaliates, the ABA “will not intervene with an approved law school on behalf of an individual."  

     The possibility of retaliation is increased because students must disclose of any external means of dispute resolution pursued (Rule 24(c)(iv)) and sign a consent to release the complaint to their law school.

     Students, however, are not given any information about their school's response or an explanation of the ABA's decision.  The process under Rule 24 is entirely ex parte.  

     As a result, the complaint becomes a roadmap showing the school what it can get away when responding to the ABA.

     Rule 24 enables abuse and is likely to deter students from reporting violations.  It is not "sufficiently rigorous" for the ABA to be a "reliable authority" about the programs of legal education it accredits (34 C.F.R. 602.16(a)).