Stranded Arizona Summit Law Students Won’t Finish JDs at ASU

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Stranded Arizona Summit Law Students Won't Finish JDs at ASU

It appears that the Arizona State University Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law won’t be coming to the rescue of Arizona Summit Law School students left stranded by the potentially permanent closure of their school after all.

The American Bar Association has directed the teetering Arizona Summit Law School to help current students come up with individualized plans to finish out their law degrees, rather than pursue a teach-out plan that would allow all remaining students to complete their studies at a single campus, as many had hoped to do at nearby ASU law. (Both law schools are located in downtown Phoenix, though Arizona Summit shuttered its physical campus in August and reportedly has not been paying its rent.)

Arizona Summit canceled its fall semester after losing its ABA accreditation in June, but has not said it’s shutting down. It has appealed the revocation of its accreditation and is awaiting a decision from the ABA and has also filed suit against the ABA for what it charges are unfair accreditation practices.

An Arizona Summit spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment Monday, but interim president Peter Goplerud told The Arizona Republic newspaper that the ABA determined that the best way forward for students is to devise individual plans for each.

“What the ABA is doing is really helping us make sure that the students are all on the best path forward to complete their degrees,” he told the Arizona Republic.

Arizona Summit students were informed of the decision in an email Oct. 5. That email urged them to immediately contact the school to determine next steps.

An ABA spokesman reached Monday declined to comment on the situation. ASU Law assistant dean Thomas Williams said Monday that Summit Law did, in fact, submit a teach-out plan to the ABA that involved ASU, but that ASU had not formally agreed to that plan, likely prompting the ABA to reject it.

When it became public in August that the schools were in talks about a teach-out plan, ASU Law officials expressed both a desire to help Arizona Summit students and reservations that their school could accommodate them and that Arizona Summit students would be able to keep up with the school’s rigorous program.

Arizona Summit students have already had to decide the best course of action for their situation. ASU Law opened its doors to third-year Arizona Summit students within a semester of graduation on the condition they be considered visiting students, but only a handful took up that offer. Others have opted to transfer to Arizona Summit’s sister school, Florida Coastal School of Law. Still others have put their studies on hold pending the ABA appeal.

In an unexpected twist, 25 former Arizona Summit students transferred to the University of North Dakota School of Law. Unlike many other campuses, North Dakota agreed to transfer all the former Arizona Summit students’ credits.