Groups Protest Proposed Law School Accreditation Changes

April 4, 2011

An American Bar Association committee, which met this weekend in Chicago to continue its review of law school accreditation standards, heard complaints from numerous legal experts who argue that some of the proposals being considered would significantly weaken legal education. Representatives from the Clinical Legal Education Association, the Society of American Law Teachers, the Association of Legal Writing Directors and the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) all testified Saturday before the ABA’s Standards Review Committee, primarily in protest of proposed provisions that would eliminate requirements that law schools have tenure systems and use the LSAT in admissions. The ABA Journal reported Saturday that, after reviewing a letter from AALS urging the committee to put its accreditation review on hold, Donald J. Polden, committee chair and dean of the Santa Clara University School of Law, said “he hadn’t heard anything that would persuade him the committee should stop what it’s doing."

Susan Prager, AALS executive director, told Inside Higher Ed that many individual law school faculty members testified before the committee at an open forum Saturday, offering personal anecdotes about why tenure is important to them. She also clarified that AALS does not want the Standards Review Committee to halt its review entirely, just that it wants the committee to take more time to consider the implications of the many changes it is considering. Though some proposals were approved, specific proposals regarding the more contentious items -- such as tenure and the LSAT -- were not voted on at this weekend's meeting, meaning that the committee will take more time to review them before making a formal recommendation to the broader ABA.

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