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Top Law School Fails of 2016

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on December 27, 2016 11:00 AM

It's been a rough year. Antonin Scalia died, as did Muhammad Ali, Prince, David Bowie -- even Princess Leia was taken from us just today. There was that terrible election, Brexit, Zika, Aleppo, and mass shooting after mass shooting. And those are just the top of the list. In the eyes of many, 2016 has been the Worst Year Ever.

The year's terribleness hasn't spared law schools, either. If you can't wait for this awful year to come to a close, you're not alone. Plenty of law students and law school deans are counting down the minutes until 2016's death, too. Here's why.

1. Even Top Law Schools Can't Get Students to Apply

The law school crisis isn't just a problem for low-ranking schools. Even the most prestigious law schools are struggling with a drop in applications, as potential students seek brighter futures outside the legal profession. Even Harvard and Yale can't get as many students to apply.

2. This Law School Had Only One Student Pass the Bar. Will It Lose Accreditation?

If 2016 was bad for law schools generally, it was particularly terrible for this law school in Indiana. Out of a graduating class of 20, only 12 J.D.s sat for the Indiana bar exam. And only one passed. That low passage rate put the school's future in jeopardy, and the school decided this fall that it won't be staying around to see if 2017 is any better.

3. Man Accepted by 10 Law Schools Sues for Age Bias

Not every law school is excited about OWLS, it seems. (Older, Wiser Law Students, that is.) Though 68-year-old Geoffrey Akers was accepted to 10 of the 11 law schools he applied to, he sued his one rejection, claiming that the school snubbed him due to his age.

4. Author of New Study Predicts More Law Schools Will Close

2016 may be the nail in the coffin for some law schools. With dropping enrollment and lower bar passage rates, there's less of market for what law schools are selling -- causing one study to predict several closures in the near future.

5. For-Profit Charlotte Law School Denied Federal Student Aid

Charlotte Law School is going to need to find a new way for students to pay for their J.D.'s, after the Department of Education announced this month that it would no longer allow the school to receive federal student loans. The reason: alleged misrepresentations in the school's program and a failure to comply with educational standards.

6. Will Defrauded Law Grads Ever Be Able to Cancel Loans?

There are plenty of students who took out six-figure loans to attend law school, only to graduate unable to pass the bar or find a decent-paying job. A small group of them, though, may be able to have their loans discharged if their school misrepresented employment prospects in order to entice them to enroll.

7. Berkeley Law Dean Accused of Sexual Harassment. Again?

The University of California, Berkeley has been hit with a series of sex scandals, and the law school hasn't been spared. Earlier this year, Boalt Dean Sujit Choudhry was sued for allegedly sexually harassing his assistant. That makes two out of the last three Berkeley law school deans to face sexual harassment claims.

Here's hoping the new year turns out a bit better, for law schools and law students alike.

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