A proposed class action has been filed by three Savannah Law School students who allege they and as many as 200 other students were lied to concerning parent institution John Marshall Law School’s financial stability and American Bar Association (ABA) accreditation.
The complaint begins by explaining the ABA in December 2014 recognized the Savannah Law School as an approved branch of fully accredited co-defendant John Marshall Law School in Atlanta. The plaintiffs say that the defendants—who include the aforementioned law schools and JMLS 1422, LLC and John Marshall University—represented that Savannah Law School was “financially sound” and able to provide a program of legal studies that would enable students to graduate and find gainful employment in the legal sector.
On October 12, 2017, the ABA reportedly informed John Marshall Law School that its Accreditation Committee had ruled the school was “significantly out of compliance with ABA standards.” More specifically, the complaint says, the ABA zeroed in on the school’s supposed failure to “maintain a rigorous program of legal education” to prepare students to become members of the legal profession, as well as an apparent inability to provide adequate academic support. According to the lawsuit, the ABA called for John Marshall Law School to submit a report demonstrating the school’s compliance issues were in line with ABA requirements or, alternatively, appear before the Accreditation Committee in June 2018.
As of October 2017, the case says, Savannah Law School relayed to students that the ABA’s compliance determination for Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School “should not be of immediate concern” and continued accepting applications and tuition. On March 22, 2018, however, Savannah Law School reportedly informed faculty and students that it had sold the property on which it was located and would cease operations at the end of the Spring 2018 semester. From the lawsuit:
“As a result of the planned closure of Savannah Law School and uncertainty regarding its accreditation status, the value of law degrees that have been, or will be, issued by the school have been diminished, the expectations of Plaintiffs and the class of receiving their full legal education from the downtown location have been dashed, and current and prospective students who have paid tuition or deposits have lost the benefit from such payments.”