Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The latest on the University of La Verne Law School in Ontario

Back on May 6, the Press-Enterprise reported that the University of La Verne Law School, which happens to be located in Ontario (kinda like how Pomona College isn't in Pomona), might lose its accreditation. It currently is "provisionally approved" by the American Bar Association, but at the time it did not appear that the ABA would recommend full accreditation.

Last Friday, the Press-Enterprise updated the story, after the ABA sent a 14 page letter to the University:

According to ABA accreditation standards, there are two batches of statistics that the group uses to judge schools: For at least three out of the past five years, the number of graduates to pass the bar exam must be 75 percent or higher or the percentage of first-time exam takers must be within 15 percentage points of the ABA average.

[Dean Allen] Easley acknowledged that his school doesn't qualify on the latter standard, but it does pass the first.

So if the University is unsuccessful in appealing the ABA's decision, what could happen? The experience of the University of West Los Angeles School of Law in 2006 may prove illustrative. Here's what was reported in March 2006:

The University of West Los Angeles School of Law has lost one key accreditation, which will affect students' ability to get federal financial aid.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges voted in November to terminate its accreditation of the school....WASC reviewed the law school's appeal, but decided two weeks ago to terminate the school's accreditation....

State accreditation is critical because students who attend a nonstate-accredited law school are ineligible to sit for the bar exam without first passing the First-Year Law Students' Examination, or "Baby Bar," according to the State Bar.

As of today, the school still lacks WASC accreditation. It also lacks ABA accreditation - the accreditation that the University of La Verne is in danger of losing - but UWLA considers that a plus:

The School of Law has made a decision not to seek ABA approval because we believe that meeting the standards for ABA approval would be in conflict with the University’s Mission to offer affordable, quality legal education to the non-traditional student (one who must work, attend to family issues, and so on). We also believe that adoption of ABA criteria would impose increased financial burdens on students while severely limiting admission opportunities to the students we want to reach.

Back to La Verne. Even if it loses its ABA accreditation, it still maintains a WASC accreditation. More will be known next month.

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