Arizona Summit Law School has announced it is seeking an affiliation with a "major university" partner.

Arizona Summit Law School has announced it is seeking an affiliation with a “major university” partner.

Yesterday afternoon, Arizona Summit Law School in downtown Phoenix issued the following press release regarding its goal to affiliate with a university rather than remain a standalone law school. A school spokeswoman said that they expect to complete the affiliation “within the year.” What such an affiliation “with a major university” ultimately means for Summit is unclear; I’ll be reaching out to school officials in coming days to ask about their strategic thinking. At this point, the school has said that the collaboration would “allow lower tuition, improved economies of scale in pursuit of mission to provide legal education to diverse and non-traditional students.”

 I’ll report more when I learn more. And if you are a Summit student or faculty member, feel free to contact me anytime at arizona.attorney@azbar.org.

 Here’s the release:

PHOENIX, AZ (August 15, 2016): Arizona Summit Law School (Summit), one of the nation’s few independent law schools, intends to affiliate with a major university within the year.

“The decision to affiliate reflects the strong commitment we have to our students,” said Don Lively, Summit president. “We conducted a survey of our students and learned that 67% of them would prefer attending a law school that is part of a university system. Toward this end, we are in advanced negotiations with a few universities that share our mission and values. The advantages of this transition are multifold. It will strengthen Summit’s reputation, make its program more affordable, reduce tuition dependency, result in stronger academic support systems and improved outcomes, enhance faculty and institutional development opportunities, create interdepartmental synergies, and significantly enhance the ability to achieve our mission of diversifying legal education and the legal profession.”

AZ Summit Law School Phoenix Law logoFounded in 2005, Summit was designed and developed by legal educators concerned about the direction of traditional legal education, which has drifted from the realities of the contemporary legal profession. Summit recognizes not only the need for change, but also the opportunity to become a benchmark institution for the 21st Century. Its goals include graduating students who truly are practice-ready and, most importantly, diversifying one of the nation’s least diverse professions.

In its short history, Summit has earned numerous awards for diversity and innovation—including being a two-time winner of the American Bar Association Gambrell Award. Summit students last year logged more than 100,000 public service hours. The school’s career placement rate for JD advantage, bar pass required, and professional positions leads all 50 tier two law schools. It has a student loan default rate of less than 2%, which is one of the best among the nation’s universities and law schools (including many state universities and ivy league schools).

Dean Shirley Mays Arizona Summit Law School

Dean Shirley Mays, Arizona Summit Law School

Dean Shirley Mays notes that, “our mission entails admitting many students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have lower entering credentials but the potential to succeed. Our ability to and record of enabling success is evidenced by an ultimate bar pass rate that complies with ABA standards, our strong career placement rate, and many stories from employers who prefer to hire our graduates because of their preparedness for practice and strong work ethic. Dean Mays added “over the past decade, we have had a profound impact on the legal profession’s diversity in Arizona. In 2004, the state bar’s diversity rate was 8% compared to the overall state population’s diversity rate of ~40%. In 2015, we had a graduate diversity rate of 31% compared with the 15% diversity rate of the state’s other schools.”

Summit’s latest milestone on its mission of diversity is a program offering full scholarships plus $5,000 in living expenses to students with an LSAT score of 150 or above. The program, another market of its innovative mindset, is targeting students who are members of historically or economically disadvantaged groups and is being coordinated in partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Legal education traditionally has assumed that schools must choose between high LSAT scores and diversity. The Summit scholarship initiative demonstrates that it can preserve a mission of diversity and, at the same time, increase the entering credentials of its students and ultimately its first-time bar pass rate.

The legal profession has changed dramatically in recent years, but law schools generally have not kept pace. Within this context, new leadership in legal education likely will emerge. Summit is building a school created not only to respond to but lead change and be recognized as an institution of true social utility. For more information, please visit www.azsummitlaw.edu.

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AZ Summit Law School Phoenix Law logoSome news from the folks at Arizona Summit Law School (please feel free to pass it on to people who could benefit):

Arizona Summit Law School, a private law school located in downtown Phoenix, is hosting a one-day event to provide free legal information and limited-scope legal advice and assistance to people seeking help on matters related to family law, general business, probate and estate planning, and landlord/tenant disputes.

Susan Daicoff, director of legal clinics at Summit Law

Susan Daicoff, director of legal clinics at Summit Law

Approximately 50 Summit Law students, faculty, and alumni will be providing pro bono legal services; each student will be supervised by faculty or alumni who are practicing attorneys.  The school hopes to assist as many individuals as possible during its first Access to Justice Day.

“As we enter our tenth year, Arizona Summit Law School is excited to expand its work within our community,” said Susan Daicoff, director of legal clinics at Summit Law. “While our clinics have helped many clients over the years, from family law to our work at the Human Services Campus, this free day of legal assistance allows more of us to come together as a law school, to serve more people in our community who may not be able to afford legal advice.”

When: Friday, March 13, 2015, 10 am – 2 pm

Where: Arizona Summit Law School, 1 North Central Ave. in downtown Phoenix

Check-in will be held in the school’s lobby area where a pre-screening occurs. Individuals will then be guided to the appropriate station.

Spanish-speaking translators will be available.

Dean Shirley Mays Arizona Summit Law School

Dean Shirley Mays, Arizona Summit Law School

Individuals seeking assistance with complex issues requiring more than a short consultation will be referred to appropriate lawyers and organizations, including legal services agencies (community organizations who offer free or reduced-cost legal assistance), local attorneys, and Summit Law alumni.

“One of the pillars of our mission here at Summit Law is to serve the underserved,” said Arizona Summit Law Dean Shirley Mays. “For us, that means more than our efforts to diversify the legal profession by creating more opportunities for women and people of color to obtain a high quality legal education. That also means expanding our efforts to provide high quality legal information and advice to those in the community who might not otherwise have the financial circumstances to meet with a legal professional.”

For questions related to parking, directions or how the event will be structured, email Probono@azsummitlaw.edu. Note: No legal advice will be provided through this email address, and no information or legal matters will be reviewed in advance.

Star Jones at Phoenix School of Law, Feb. 26, 2011

On a recent beautiful day in sunny Phoenix, hundreds of schoolkids gave up their Saturday to learn quite a bit about law and the legal profession. Accompanying them on February 26 was a handful of lawyers, who sacrificed their time to share some stories and advice with the high-schoolers.

More on this story will appear in the May Arizona Attorney Magazine. A highlight of the day had to be the remarks given by Star Jones. The lawyer and TV commentator wowed the attendees with her personal stories of accomplishment and challenge. It was a great coup to invite her to attend.

Also speaking were the son and daughter-in-law of Judge John Roll, murdered in January during the attempted assassination of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson.

But in this post, I have to acknowledge the lawyers who gave of their time that Saturday. Thank you (in alphabetical order) to:

Also worthy of praise were the members of the State Bar of Arizona’s Diversity Department. Director I. Godwin Otu and Assistant Rosie Figueroa regularly step up to create great programs. This event was a partnership between the State Bar, DiscoverLaw.org and the Phoenix School of Law (where the event was held).

The Phoenix School of Law presented Otu and Rosie with a plaque to thank them for all their efforts. Well done, all.

Here are some more photos from the event.

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Dean Shirley Mays, Phoenix School of Law

Tomorrow afternoon, I will be meeting with a law school leader. And I’d like to know what questions you think I should ask for our Q&A, to be published in the April issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine.

My interview is with Dean Shirley Mays, of the Phoenix School of Law. We have written about the school and its evolution more than once (here and here and here, to start). We will discuss her own background and the school’s challenges and successes.

If you have questions or comments to suggest, post them here. Or write to me at arizona.attorney@azbar.org

And, Dean Mays, if you read this, feel free to post some questions too! I’m looking forward to a great conversation.

Shirley Mays, Dean of the Phoenix School of Law

We reported earlier today, via Facebook, that the Phoenix School of Law had named its new Dean. From a few people, we’ve been told that Dean Shirley Mays started work yesterday.

(Here is our post: The Phoenix School of Law has named its new Dean: Shirley Mays, formerly an Associate Dean and Associate Professor at Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio.)

Officially, though, as of this morning all we had heard from the school was a Twitter post. Here’s what they posted on Monday, August 2, at 10:27:

phxlaw We welcome our new Dean, Shirley Mays!

I’m all for the New Media, but, as they say, “Trust but verify.” So I was heartened to see Dean Mays’ photo posted on the school’s Web page today. And then I spoke with Juliet Falevitch, the school’s marketing and communications manager, who confirmed that the new administrator is on the job.

Dean Mays earned her J.D. at Harvard Law School in 1987, and her B.A. (magna cum laude) at Central State University in 1976.

We expect we will interview the new Dean for an upcoming issue of Arizona Attorney Magazine. In the meantime, here is some more information we’ve been able to gather from her former school’s site.

Professor Mays serves as associate dean and faculty advisor to Capital’s Black Law Students Association. In addition, she teaches courses in Local Government Law, Sex-based Discrimination, and Business Associations. Prior to joining the Capital faculty in 1991, Professor Mays practiced law in the public/municipal finance department with the law firm of Squire, Sanders & Dempsey. She was formerly a judicial clerk for the Honorable Thomas J. Moyer, chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court. She served as a visiting professor at the University of Kentucky in Fall 2001.

Law Review Articles

  • Maintaining Urban Greenspace, St. John’s Law Review (2000).
  • Privatization of Municipal Services: A Contagion in the Body Politic, 34 Duquesne Law Review 41 (1996).

As recently as this past February, Dean Mays was named to another term on the Ohio Ethics Commission:

The Ohio Ethics Commission is an independent state agency composed of three Democratic and three Republican members, appointed by the Governor, and subject to confirmation by the Ohio Senate. The Ethics Commission oversees the Ethics Law for all state and local public officials and employees, apart from those serving in the General Assembly and Judiciary, through advisory, education, financial disclosure, and investigative responsibilities. The Commission is 36 years old; created upon the enactment of the Ohio Ethics Law in 1973.

The full press release is here.