Sunday, November 7, 2010

Clinicians complain that ABA ignores important stakeholders in deciding law school accreditation standards

The President of The Clinical Education Association ("CLEA")  sent a strongly worded letter to the ABA committee considering changes to the law school accreditation standards complaining that comments and feedback from important stakeholders in legal education have been shut-out of the process.

CLEA . . . feels obligated to express its concern about the Committee’s shallow engagement with the wide range of stakeholders in this process and its apparent disregard of their many thoughtful, important written comments and other contributions on the pending issues.

. . . .

Representatives of CLEA have attended every public session of the Committee since the comprehensive review began. Until the July, 2010, meeting, our comments and those of other Council affiliates were invited; the comments were concise, respectful, immediate, and in our view helpful. At the opening of the July meeting, the Chair stated that, as in the past, time permitting the affiliates in attendance would have an opportunity to comment at the close of the two-day session The next day, as the meeting wound down two hours early, the Chair declared that the Committee would
not take the affiliate contributions after all. Then the announcement that no feedback would ever again be permitted at Committee meetings appeared on the Committee web site. It is not clear to us whether this decision reflects the views of the Committee as a whole or was an executive decision by the Chair.
Closing off comments and putting up roadblocks to a broad and deliberative consensus based process impedes the process of developing good accreditation standards. While we understand that there will be an opportunity for comment farther down the line (although we fear that that opportunity will come too late to affect the Committee’s deliberations), we are nonetheless troubled that the Committee would choose to shut out the views of the stakeholders in legal education just as its work reaches the most difficult and contested matters on its agenda. We also note that the Committee’s work is governed by the Regulations of the Department of Education, which require that the Council’s constituencies be afforded a “meaningful opportunity to provide input into the review.” 34 C.F.R. §601.21(b)(4).

The claim is that the committee reviewing accreditation standards is being too heavily influenced by the American Law Deans Association ("ALDA") while those organizations representing the teachers such as SALT, AALS, CLEA and ALWD are being ignored.  You can read the rest of the CLEA letter here.

Hat tip to Best Practices for Legal Education.


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