CLEVELAND, OH – In 2018 John Marshall School of Law Dean Lee Fisher was bragging in a news release posted on Cleveland State University’s (CSU) website that the law school’s passage rate of 88 percent was the highest in the state. Fisher was quoted as follows: “Today we appreciate the rising success of our law school, as also evidenced by our recent 14-point increase in our U.S. News national ranking, the 4th largest increase of any law school in the nation.”
Although “disclosure” is an American Bar Association accreditation “standard,” Fisher wasn’t as public about the law school’s test scores being the state’s lowest the following year in 2019. All of the state’s law schools with wildly-fluctuating “first time” test results are issuing news releases promoting their best scores while remaining publicly-silent about the worst. The search engines only show the “best in the state” and not the “worst in the state” headlines. The concealment gives Ohioans an idea where future prosecutors are learning to hide exculpatory evidence.
After Fisher’s first year on the job in February 2017 only 69 percent of CSU law school graduates testing to obtain licenses as attorneys passed on first try. It was 43 percent for the Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) law school where attorneys Jessica Berg and Michael Scharf have been employed as CWRU’s law school co-deans since 2013.
For perspective Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb graduated from CWRU’s law school in 2018 and has failed the bar examination twice in the past three years. His failure to obtain a license now after three years instead of two lowers CWRU’s percentages.
Last February 2021 only 63 percent of CSU law school students – whose legal educations Fisher oversees – could pass the Ohio Bar Association examination on the first try to be licensed as an attorney. The overall rate of law school students passing the test after three tries dropped the overall score to 49 percent that year.
In July 2021 the passage rate for the 139 Ohio law school graduates from “out of state” schools was 100 percent but for those who attended DePaul (50%), Indiana University-Indianapolis (33%), Louisiana State University (50%) and Northern Kentucky University (30%). CSU’s passage rate was 88 percent and CWRU’s was 71 percent. Ohio Northern University’s passage rate was 24 percent for the lowest in the state. CSU’s law school has not been close to 100 percent since 2016. It’s July 2021 scores were 83 percent.
According to the American Bar Association’s accreditation standards, within two years after graduation, a minimum of 75 percent of the university’s graduates should have taken and passed a state bar examination. The rule is identified by number as Standard 316 and is found in the American Bar Association’s “Standards for Approval of Law Schools.”
Standard 316 was enacted by the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar to comply with “accreditation” standards approved by the United States Congress in the Code of Federal Regulations. A 9-page fact finding report issued in 2019 revealed that within two years the majority of law schools reported that 97 percent of their graduates had tested for a license.
CSU’s wildly-fluctuating test scores may explain why Fisher was so willing to participate in the public “distraction” a former Palestinian student created with his online petition drive to remove the late United States Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall’s name from the law school. Fisher has been employed as dean since 2016 and the law school’s test scores are not its only “compliance” problem. Instead of welcoming immigrant Mousa Hanna Kassis’ online petition Fisher should have advised him to obey his “student code of conduct” if he wanted the board of trustees to consider his proposal.
In August 2021 Fisher received a “Notice of Non-Compliance” from the ABA’s “council.” He was warned that CSU’s law school was in violation of Standards 202(a),(c) and (d). The letter to Fisher reads as follows:
At its August 19-20, 2021, meeting, the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association (the “Council”) considered the status of Cleveland State University Cleveland-Marshall College of Law (the “Law School”) and concluded that the Law School is not in compliance with Standards 202(a), (c), and (d).
In accordance with U.S. Department of Education regulations (34 C.F.R. § 602.26) applicable to recognized accrediting agencies, the Council is required to post a notice describing the basis for an action when it finds significant noncompliance with one or more of ABA Standards pursuant to Rule 11(a)(4). The Council considers any finding of noncompliance with Standard 202 to be such a finding.
Consequently, pursuant to ABA Internal Operating Practice 5 of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, this public memorandum is being issued within 24 hours of the time the Law School was notified of the Council’s decision.
The Law School has been asked to submit a report by October 1, 2021, and to appear before the Council at its February 17-19, 2022, meeting. The Council will consider the written report at its November 18-20, 2021, meeting. If the information provided in the written report demonstrates compliance with the Standards listed above, then the Council will find the Law School to be in compliance with the Standards and cancel the hearing.
This notice will be posted on our website (www.americanbar.org/groups/legal education/accreditationnotices/) to comply with the U.S. Department of Education regulations until the matter is resolved.
A law school that is approved by the American Bar Association continues in that status pending final action by the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.
Keybank executive David Reynolds has some learning to do if he’s going to successfully lead the university’s board or be just another do-nothing “token.” Fisher’s enrollment of American Negroes and Protestant Christian American children is horrible. Communist China and Communist India have different constitutions, laws and forms of government. There is no logic to enrolling 108 foreigners who will be violating immigration laws upon graduation if they remain instead of leaving.
The meetings of the board of trustees’ are public and so are the university’s records. Personally identifiable information about students is not. What the minutes don’t reflect are public discussions showing that the board Reynolds now leading as ever having an interest in Fisher’s performance, enrollment or compliance challenges.
Two years ago Sands and Fisher started “merger” discussions with Akron University President Gary Miller and law school dean C.J. Peters. CSU’s 2020 board of trustees’ minutes show no discussion or an authorizing resolution from the legislative authority David H. Gunning led at the time.
Reynolds replaced Gunning as chairman in May 2021. None of the discussions about the issues being raised by the ABA are private or eligible for “executive session.” The heading of the very serious federal and ABA regulation Sands, Reynolds and Fisher were accused of violating in August 2021 is captioned “Resources for program.”
There should be some evidence of Reynolds entertaining a discussion with Sands and Fisher about the passage rates and non-compliance letter reflected in the minutes.
(a) The current and anticipated financial resources available to the law school shall be sufficient for it to operate in compliance with the Standards and to carry out its program of legal education. (c) A law school is not in compliance with the Standards if its current financial condition has a negative and material effect on the school’s ability to operate in compliance with the Standards or to carry out its program of legal education. (d) A law school is not in compliance with the Standards if its anticipated financial condition is reasonably expected to have a negative and material effect on the school’s ability to operate in compliance with the Standards or to carry out its program of legal education.
According to Fisher in a statement, it was Sands and the board of trustees Reynolds leads who did not budget funds to fully staff the law school.
“It is important to note that this was about the allocation of financial resources from the university to our law school on the narrow issue of sufficient staffing for the law school,” Fisher claimed. The law school, under his leadership, was “in the strongest financial condition in a decade.”
Fisher met the ABA’s October 21, 2021 deadline to prove that the law school he led was financially-strong, and that it was the university’s staffing negligence behind the accreditation concerns.
At its November 18-19, 2021, meeting, the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association (the “Council”) considered the status of Cleveland State University Cleveland-Marshall College of Law (the “Law School”) regarding its noncompliance with Standards 202(a), (c), and (d).
Following consideration of the record in the matter and the Law School’s response to the Council’s August 2021 Decision Letter, the Council concluded that the information provided by the Law School is sufficient to demonstrate compliance with Standards 202(a), (c), and (d). Accordingly, the Rule 13(a)(2) hearing is cancelled in accordance with Rule 20(d). Cleveland State University Cleveland-Marshall College of Law remains an approved law school.
EJBNEWS has previously reported that a review of the CSU board of trustees’ minutes for a meeting held on September 23, 2021 don’t include an appearance from Fisher. Sands in the public meeting did not discuss the August 2021 ABA compliance letter. Fisher appears to have responded “for the university” without a discussion with or an approval resolution from the board.
At its October 27, 2021 board meeting, Reynolds and the board “scheduled” an executive session in Beachwood at the Country Club located at 2825 Lander Road. The justification for the off-campus executive session was the same unlawful tautalogical language Gunning used to violate the state’s open meetings law.
“Chair Reynolds made the motion [the appropriate use of the term is “motioned” instead of “made the motion”] to adjourn into Executive Session to for the purpose of of [a typo in the minutes] discussing personnel matters involving the contracts, employment and compensation of public employees; to consider real estate matters; and to discuss trade secret information required by law to be kept confidential. Trustee DePompei seconded the motion.”
The public has no idea from the minutes if Sands raised the topic of Fisher’s response to the ABA to CSU’s board of trustees. From the records Fisher appears to be doing his own thing, covering his own azz and cutting his own deals. He’s got the public distractively “razzle dazzled” thanks to a smear campaign against a good man who’s been dead since July 6, 1835. That’s nearly 186 years.
Councilman Kevin Conwell and Cleveland city council were Fisher’s “suckers.” It’s not what the public’s told by this town’s so-called “reporters” or what’s in front of the curtain that matters. It’s what’s behind the curtain and the hidden agendas.