- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 29, 2002

Less than a quarter of graduates from the University of the District of Columbia's law school pass the bar exam on the first try, well below the national average of 73 percent.
Yet the David A. Clarke School of Law is spending nearly twice the national average on its students, even though it has not received full accreditation and is losing students.
The figures come from UDC financial records obtained by The Washington Times under the Freedom of Information Act, as well as the U.S. Department of Education and the American Bar Association, which accredits law schools around the country.
According to the ABA, about 70 percent of graduates from D.C. law schools such as Catholic University's Columbus School of Law and the Georgetown University Law Center pass the bar on their first try. Only 22 percent of UDC law school graduates passed the bar on their first try last year.
By contrast, the University of Virginia School of Law widely recognized as one of the 10 best in the country saw 90 percent of its graduates pass on their first try.
Since 1999, enrollment at UDC's law school has fallen 24 percent, from 168 to 128 students, while the publicly funded university has doubled its spending on the school and tripled its spending on faculty. The national average for law school costs is $5,687 per student; UDC is spending $11,043.
In addition, the law school's administration costs of $7,610 per student are more than 2 times the national average of $2,828 per student.
Throughout the 1990s, the D.C. Council, Congress and the now-defunct financial control board recommended the law school be closed because of its high cost and low performance.
UDC President William Pollard said the law school's costs are justified by university officials' efforts to get the ABA to fully accredit the school. However, he added that he is evaluating all of the university's expenditures, including those of the law school.
"Let me speak about the law school issue. One of the two things I can tell you is the law school is up for accreditation. While comparing our costs to Yale or Harvard, you have to spend money to get there," said Mr. Pollard, who took control of the university July 1.
In 1998, UDC's law school was granted provisional accreditation, which means it is in "substantial compliance" with ABA standards. The school could lose its limited accreditation if it does not fully comply with ABA requirements, such as updating the law library and improving facilities, within five years.
Provisional accreditation allows the school's graduates to take the bar exam and receive student loans and grants.
"UDC's law school is ranked virtually last in the nation in both academics and by judges. It has clearly been recognized as a waste of taxpayers' funds by a variety of community leaders and groups," said a UDC faculty member who asked not to be identified.
"What we have is a situation in which the District of Columbia taxpayers are being asked to support a law school which has a total of only 128 student enrolled, 65 of the 128 are out-of-state residents at a cost that is at least twice if not three times as expensive as sending them to Harvard Law School," the faculty member said. "This is an 'Alice In Wonderland' situation. It is insane."
According to UDC records, most of the law school's costs since 1999 have increased for the law library and for faculty salaries.
"Our library is grossly out of whack," Mr. Pollard told The Times. "You have to spend money to get the library where it ought to be."
Beginning at zero in 1999, spending on the law library increased to a peak of nearly $1.3 million last fiscal year.
This year about $1.2 million will be spent on the law library, which is about equal in size to the university's main library, which serves 5,300 students.
Meanwhile, faculty spending has nearly tripled from $541,000 in 1999 to $1.4 million this year.
The law school's 23 full-time professors, who earn between $60,000 and $90,000 a year, teach 128 law students creating a student-to-faculty ratio of about 6-to-1. The school also employs 22 part-time or adjunct professors.
UDC has a total enrollment of 5,300 students and a total staff of 225 teachers, for a 24-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.
The UDC law school occupies three floors in two buildings, which is more classroom and office space than some university undergraduate departments with 10 times the number of law students.
Most UDC undergraduates are minority city residents; most of the university's law students are white non-residents.
In 1998, the financial control board said UDC must provide a quality education for D.C. residents and found that programs such as the law school waste resources while serving mostly non-residents.
The D.C. Council created the law school in 1986 as an independent college; the law school merged with the university in 1995 to save money.
Former council Chairman David A. Clarke, who died in 1997 at age 53, led efforts to create the law school, as the privately run Antioch School of Law was closing. UDC's law school was named after Mr. Clarke in 1999.

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