Whittier Law School students demand answers in decision to shut down program

WHITTIER, Calif. (KABC) -- Whittier Law School students showed their frustration and outrage at campus officials Friday after learning their program would be shut down.

They said they have been left hanging and do not know what will happen next to those students who have already enrolled in the program.

"We want answers. They gave us 30 minutes of their time with a prepared written statement to tell us that they were closing our school with absolutely no interest, no investment and no sympathy toward us," student Melissa Suffield said.

Many students carpooled from the law building in Costa Mesa to the main campus in Whittier, protesting and demanding answers.

Ana Lilia Barraza, spokesperson for the college, said the decision to shut down the program was based on low Bar Exam passage rates and job placement outcomes.

"It was not a decision that was taken lightly. There was a lot of deliberation, a lot of effort, a lot of different planning that went in to try and make things work," she said.

She added the law program will not be discontinued immediately and school officials will use proceeds from the sale of the campus, which was done earlier this year, to fund a program that will help students finish their law degrees.

"We'll ensure that every student enrolled has the opportunity to finish their legal education," she said.

According to legal experts, state Bar passage rates have fallen not just at Whittier Law School, but across the state, which is why the students urge the board to reconsider the closure.

College officials said they plan to hold several meetings with the law students within the next few weeks.
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