Law School Discussion


I was dismissed from Western State after 3 semesters, should I try to stay in the legal field, for example getting a paralegal certificate, and then try to go back to law school?

Depends, I'll explain below.

Question from a dismissed law student of Western State College of Law at Argosy


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First off I don't think any school has a mandatory kick out rate. A school with a mandatory kick out rate makes no practical sense because if a school kicks a student out then they are losing 60-90k in tuition money. So they are not money hungry if they were you would still be in school.

Here is the attrition numbers for Western State 33.3%, but 22 of the 60 total that left the school were for "other" and not "academic" reasons. So it is really more like 16-20% failed out certainly not 50%. The reason academic dismissal happens is because a school should not continue taking money if they don't think you can pass the bar. Trust me when you take the bar exam particularly in a state as difficult as California were Western is located law school exams are a joke comparatively.

If you want to go back to law school really think about what happened and what you could have done better. If your reason for getting kicked out law school was the school was unfair you are not getting back in somewhere else. People have failed out before and gone on to succeed, but you need to take a long hard look at yourself and what you can do better next time. If this is what you really want to do then it is going to take a lot of sacrifice, but realistically if you did everything in your power and only you know whether that is true or not and couldn't get through  law school exams where you are told the specific subject you are getting then you are going to have an extremely difficult time passing the bar.  The California bar is about 100x harder than anything you will see in law school.

Again it is unfortunate you were kicked out that is every law students fear including my own back when I was a 1L. I hope everything works out for you whatever ends up happening, but if you really did do everything in power and couldn't get through first year exams this disappointment will be nothing in comparison to failing the bar after putting 3-4 years of work and 100,000 dollars. People do come back get their J.D. and pass the bar, but it won't happen if you put all the blame on Western State.

legend -- First of all, I never put all the blame on Western State, I'm not sure how you got that idea. I mentioned earlier that I could/should have focused more and done better. But I also mentioned that I could have picked a better choice in a law school considering the attrition rate and "foundation points" program.  I also did get through first year exams, but I was dismissed after my third semester (which is the first semester of 2L).

Also, the 33.3% attrition you mentioned is only for the first year, which I successfully passed.  The 50% attrition that I mentioned includes the first, second, and third years, and I never said that it was mandatory that they kick out 50%, just that it's mandatory that they kick many of their students out.  The majority of the 22 you mentioned that left for "other" reasons were because of Western State, including their foundation points program, so even though those students had above a 2.0, they probably didn't have any, or one, foundation points so they transferred to a CBE school or a neighboring ABA school that would let them in.  Very few students from the "other" reasons category transferred because they had all of their foundation points, a great GPA, and transferred to tier-1 and tier-2 law schools.  I should have transferred after my first year, since I had above a 2.0, but since I already had some foundation points I believed that I could have fulfilled that requirement, which turned out to be a mistake.

Actually, in Western State's eyes, it does make practical sense to kick out students because the main reason they're ABA accredited is their bar-passage rate.  So they let in a large amount of students (more students then there is parking available), then they are able to get that federal aid money, then dismiss many of them in order to keep their bar-passage rate high.  They also entice students by providing scholarships knowing that most of the students will not be able to keep those scholarships.  If you look at the highest attrition rates in the country, you'll see that Whittier and Western State are consistently in the top 5.  Both law schools are located close to each other in Orange County, California but usually Whittier has a higher attrition rate their first year.  The foundation points program allows Western State to keep their first-year attrition rate lower than Whittier's while still being able to dismiss just as many, if not more, students to keep their bar-passage rate high.

I'm sure that there are dismissed students at Western that wouldn't have passed the bar the first time and should be dismissed, but I honestly do believe that Western dismisses many students that are actually able to pass the bar.  Look at the statistics for the bar exam by law school after Western State started their "foundation points" program:  You'll see that Western State is up there with schools that are actually ranked much higher.  In fact, the latest information available as now, which is for the February 2012 bar exam, shows that Western State's bar passage rate was higher than every other ABA-approved CA law school.  That means Western State did better than Stanford, Berkeley, UCLA, USC, UC Davis, Loyola Marymount, Pepperdine, etc.  I highly doubt that Western State has a better law program than those schools. They are so afraid of losing their accreditation that they dismiss more students than they should, IMO. 

I am absolutely not saying that I got dismissed because Western State is unfair, which would put all the blame on the law school, but I do believe that Western State needs to do something about their "foundation points" program and/or the way they evaluate their students.

Cher 1300 -- First of all, much luck to you and your fellow classmates at Western State.  I hope you do not see the same fate as I have.  I was thinking about going to a CBE school because I could transfer some first-year credit since I passed my first year, but I don't want to take on more debt and still not be able to find a job after graduation.  That's why I'm going into a paralegal program, getting a job, paying off some of the debt I have already accrued, taking the LSAT again and reapplying to better law programs.  This course of action will take longer but I believe it is better in the long-term.

jonlevy -- I agree with you but my paralegal plan is temporary while study for the LSAT again and pay off some law school debt.  I absolutely plan on going back to law school, but this time a better program.

jack24 -- I am absolutely trying to network with attorneys by going to local bar association events, local law firms, etc.  But I believe that going the paralegal route, while at the same time trying to network, may help in the long run.  I just don't want to commit to only one thing considering my academic record now. Still need something to fall back on.

Roald -- Hopefully the ABA does something about it.

Thank you all for the advice! It is very much appreciated!    :)

Legal Fielder,
I am sorry to read about your situation.

I know our situations are different, but have you considered an online school? I start with American Heritage University Law School on Sept. 11th, 2012. I should tell you I am an active duty Soldier and had difficulty finding a law program that I could attend because of several back to back deployments to War Zones.  In the end I spoke with the Dean at AHU Law school and realized this was an excellent option to Learn the Law and qualify to sit for the bar and eventually practise law.  You can Contact Mr. Mel Morrison directly:

Mel Morrison
American Heritage University School of Law
 255 North D Street, San Bernardino, CA 92401
 Toll Free:   888.484.8689
 Local:         909.884.9000
 Cellular:       714.782.7198
 Bus Text:    714.729.3104 (School-related texts only)
 E-Fax:        888.466.4206
Office Email:
Private Email:

I hope this helps you! Btw my email is
Take care.

In the end I spoke with the Dean at AHU Law school and realized this was an excellent option to Learn the Law and qualify to sit for the bar and eventually practise law. 

Did the Dean mention that according to the CA state bar, only one AHU student has managed to pass the Baby Bar since 2007? Or that zero AHU grads have passed the CA bar exam since 2007? (The records on Calbar's website only go back five years). Do you intend to be the first?

A law school that continually fails to produce even a single California bar-admitted lawyer should be approached with extreme caution.

I understand that you're in a position which requires a distance learning format, but that's an abyssmal record. I'd at least ask a few detailed questions before writing a check to these guys. 

I am not impressed by AHU, I turned down an instructor's gig with them several years ago.  My guess is that they cater to foreign students  who do not know any better. 

Uzziyah -- Thank you for the information and your help, it's really nice of you to try and help me. Also, thank you for your service to this country. 

Unfortunately, as the two comments above point out, AHU might not be the best option for me.  I would also suggest that you speak with the Dean again and ask about bar preparation provided by the school and the opportunities for employment post-graduation.  Don't make the same mistake as I did and just enroll into a law school because it seems like it might be a good fit.  I am absolutely not saying that if you attend AHU that you will not pass the Baby Bar and California Bar Exam, but as a law student you want to put yourself in the best position to succeed in already highly competitive field.

Let us know what the dean says when you with him/her.

If you go the distance learning route, you want a school that not only has a bar pass rate history but can point to actively practicing attorney grads - Concord and Taft can do that as can others.