Ave Maria’s Official Statement

We just received Ave Maria’s official statement via Karen Sloan, reporter for the National Law Journal. From Ave Maria Dean Eugene Milhizer:

Ave Maria School of Law is committed to providing outstanding value to our students. Initially, we were interested in participating in the Transparency Project because we felt that leadership was needed in disclosing to the public appropriate information related to the costs and benefits of attending law school.

Since our earlier indication that we would provide data, the ABA has undertaken concrete action to address this issue, and we are satisfied that meaningful steps are in motion. In light of these recent developments, coupled with our concerns about the confidentiality of personal information about our graduates (which is a special concern at a small law school such as ours), we have decided to give the ABA’s leadership a fair chance to address this issue before acting independently, and for now, to withdraw from the Transparency Project.

The ABA will have its fair chance, but it is not the school’s job to provide that chance. If the ABA fails with its fair chance, the schools will not pick up the slack where the ABA fails. Rather, the Department of Education will have to reconsider whether the ABA Section of Legal Education and its accreditation committee suitably regulate American law schools.

So while it is true that the ABA has a responsibility to provide leadership on this issue, and that the Section of Legal Education committees are progressing towards a solution, the ABA only has to act because the schools are not voluntarily releasing the information prospective students need to make an informed investment. Individual law school’s responsibilities to prospectives and the profession are not absolved or delayed because the ABA seeks to regulate law schools more carefully. Law schools have had their “fair chance” to comport with these responsibilities, and have failed to meet them.

Earlier: Apathy For Applicants Continues: Ave Maria Backs Out

One thought on “Ave Maria’s Official Statement”

  1. As a young law student that attended Ave Maria School of Law for his first-year of legal education, I am not surprised by Dean Milhizer’s behavior in his interaction with Law School Transparency.

    Milhizer enjoys painting (i.e., spinning) the truth about the law school. Milhizer is quite concerned about how the public perceives the school. I am certain that he viewed the opportunity to interact with your project as a solid move for positive news about the school.

    However, the true nature for his about-the-face decision may never be fully discovered. Without the aid of a deposition — which school officials have experience with from the concluded wrongful termination action commenced by several former professors, I am fairly certain Milhizer was gaming your efforts for whatever positive juice he could squeeze out of the interaction.

    Personally, I really abhor the disrespect that he has shown to you young gentlemen.

    The following list of actions describe Milhizer’s unprofessionalism:

    First Act of Disrespect: If it is true that Milhizer made the decision not to keep his promise to you last December, then the least he should have done was inform you of that decision. It took a follow-up communication by your group in February to learn of their change in direction.

    Second Act of Disrespect: The use of underlings (i.e., career services director) to inform you of his decision. A man would stand behing his commitments and not hide behind the hired help.

    Third Act of Disrespect: Failing to accept your offer of a conference call to discuss the matter.

    Fourth Act of Disrespect: Not providing your group a copy of the official statement.

    Fifth Act of Disrespect: Hinting in the official statement that the school has pulled-out of your project for now. All of Milhizer’s actions point to no possibility of cooperation in the future.

    In my concluding points, I would like to mention the timing of the official statement from the school, along with a recent quote from Milhizer that displays his dishonesty in simple words.

    Official Statement Timing: If you closely examine the timing of the official statement supplied to the National Law Journal, the statement was dated February 24th. The story of Ave Maria’s not keeping its word to your group surfaced (at least when and how I knew about it) on February 23rd (by the Above the Law blog). Without a full breakdown of the timeline as to when Ms. Sloan at the National Law Journal received the statement from Ave Maria, it is reasonable to conclude that the school only felt a need to say something about the matter until after a fair amount of damage had taken place to its (and Milhizer’s) reputation.

    Milhizer’s Stark Dishonesty: The school recently announced a tuition freeze for the next school year. Again, the school was attempting to be out-front on something in order to demonstrate leadership and positive news. Here is how Milhizer characterized the school’s decision to freeze tuition: “Our current financial strength enables us to do this.” (Source: http://www.aveherald.com/news/799-ave-maria-law-school-announces-tuition-freeze.html)

    The detail that Milhizer fails to discuss includes the fact that Ave Maria School of Law has failed the Department of Education’s financial responsibilty test for the last three years. Ave Maria School of Law is the only law school in the United States to fail this test. Simply: How can a school with historical financial concerns be such a potent financial force? Truth is a very pliable substance in Milhizer’s hands.

    As a former student of Ave Maria School of Law, I apologize for Milhizer’s behavior. In my opinion, all future law students that consider attending the school need to be aware of the unprofessionalism demonstrated by its administration on an everyday basis. The drama between the Law School Transparency project and Ave Maria School of Law is simply one brick in a very large (and growing) wall of bad behavior.

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