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July 9, 2012
Duncan Law School Denied Provisional Accreditation After Appeal
The Duncan School of Law at Lincoln Memorial University hit another snag last Friday when it was revealed that the American Bar Association rejected an appeal of an earlier rejection of provisional accreditation. The school has 30 days to appeal the rejection of the appeal. The University is mulling its options. The news came in a court filing in the school’s ongoing antitrust suit against the ABA which it filed shortly after the first denial of provisional accreditation.
The Tennessee Board of Bar Examiners granted accreditation to Duncan with the understanding that it would be approved by the ABA in 2012. That deadline is now extended to 2017. Duncan students will be allowed to take the Tennessee Bar. The Dean of the law school is quoted in the Knoxville News Sentinel as saying that the school met or exceeded applicable standards. Neither the school nor the ABA has released the contents of the letter denying the appeal.
LLB published this bit of information last January:
- In March 2011 a site team visited Duncan Law and produced a report that was critical of the law school's operations in several respects.
- Invited to respond to the site inspection report, Duncan Law's Aug. 6, 2011 report provided "voluminous information and provided line-by-line responses and clarifications to various points in the site report."
- On September 29, 2011, the Accreditation Committee conducted a brief hearing on Duncan’s application for provisional approval with Duncan officials.
- On October 12, 2011, the ABA sent Duncan Law the 23-page Recommendation of the Accreditation Committee. Quoting from the Declaration by the ABA Consultant on Legal Education, Hulett H. (Bucky) Askew, filed with the ABA's pleadings in the on-going litigation (which is also the source of the above chronology):
Based on these Findings of Fact, the Committee concluded that Duncan was not in substantial compliance with each of the Standards and had not presented a reliable plan for bringing itself into full compliance within three years. (Citation omitted.) Specifically, the Committee concluded that Duncan had not established substantial compliance with four separate Standards and, in some cases, accompanying Interpretations.
The net increase in ABA-approved law schools over the past 20 years from 174 in 1990 to 200 in 2011 represented a growth in the number of law schools of 14.9% as compared to a net growth of the United States’ population of 24.2% from the 1990 to the 2010 census. Most of the new law schools were formed in states or regions where there has been rapid growth in population or in other areas historically underserved by legal education. And, perhaps more to the point, neither that Department of Education nor the antitrust laws allow the ABA to cap or limit the number of accredited law schools.
Is the ABA trying to look tough in light or criticism of how it handles law schools in a changed legal market place or is Duncan’s plan so lacking? I only ask as the process seems to include a “never say never” component, what with extended appeals and deadlines. More details on the standards at issue in the original denial are cited in this LLB post. [MG]