Bob Mercer reports that the Board of Regents has approved charging law students another $2,400 to pay for a bar exam prep course:
USD President Jim Abbott said the $2,400 would save at least $1,000 apiece for most law students. He said the list price for BARBRI’s preparation course is $3,495.
A report provided beforehand to the regents described the Dallas, Texas-based organization as “the leading market provider for bar preparation instruction.”
Abbott said making the fee mandatory would also make it eligible to be covered by student loans [Bob Mercer, “Regents Add $400 Fee per Semester to Prepare USD Law School Students,” Mitchell Daily Republic, 2017.05.11].
That’s funny: I thought USD already charged students for a bar exam prep course: it’s called law school. The Regents’ move feels like a high school saying it’s going to spend money on ACT or SAT prep courses from Kaplan. Instead of letting tests measure what students learn in school, the Regents are apparently admitting USD can’t teach its own law curriculum effectively and must teach to the test, thus giving an out-of-state corporation (BARBRI is based in Dallas, Texas) a chance to cash in on our law students.
Charleston School of Law in South Carolina includes BARBRI materials in its curriculum. Charleston students who opt in to the BARBRI post-graduation seven-week review course pay $457.50 per semester… so at least USD students are getting a better deal.
BARBRI has offered bar exam prep for fifty years. They’ve apparently incurred the wrath of competitors who have filed multiple anti-trust lawsuits, the latest of which was filed a year ago by LLM Bar Exam LLC against BARBRI and eleven law schools. LLM Bar Exam contends that BARBRI stole their foreign-student bar review materials, harassed and defamed their company, and colluded with law schools like Columbia, Harvard, Duke, and UC Berkeley to keep LLM Bar Exam out of the market. LLM Bar Exam wants $50 million, comparable to a $49 million settlement BARBRI and Kaplan agreed to in a previous suit. BARBRI and the defendant schools contend LLM Bar Exam has no facts to back its claim, lacks experience, has a bad cancellation and refund policy, and offers incomplete materials. The case is pending.
Blind law students filed suit against BARBRI last year for not making its online materials fully accessible to blind students. In 2013, another law student claims BARBRI declined to provide some materials in Braille, a claim a competing bar exam prep company has used in its PR. (Dang: could blind users sue us bloggers under the ADA for not providing Braille blog translations?)
USD law students, I’d suggest saving your $2,400 the old-fashioned way: pay attention in class, study hard, and get a good night’s sleep before the bar exam.