Sunday, November 26, 2006

changes ahead in re-accreditation

The ABA's Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar publishes a hard-copy newsletter that is sent to all Section members, mostly law school administrators and professors.  In the most recent edition, on page 2, Dean Steve Smith, past chair of the Section, has a piece entitled "The Best System of Accountability in America."  After saying how great the ABA accreditation process is, he continues on page 3:

"The current system, in part, is a victim of its own success.  The ability to enforce meaningful standards has led groups to seek to use accreditation for their own narrow purposes.  Such claims are made, for example, about deans, faculty, clinicans, legal writing instructors and librarians...."

I disagree strongly with his assertion that the sustained effort by the legal writing community to improve legal education for the benefit of the bar, the bench, and the public has been for our "own narrow purposes."  And I cringe at the suggestion that "legal writing instructors" are somehow not "faculty," since we are listed separately, and somehow not entitled to be addressed as "professors," since we are identified as "instructors" only.
You need to read that entire piece to get the full flavor and detail.  The upshot is that there will now be a task force looking into revamping the ABA's accreditation and re-accreditation process.  In that same publication, a page 1 article reports "Accreditation Policy Task Force Announced."  The members of that task force are listed where the article continues on page 25.  Big surprise, most of the task force is deans.  Yet "deans" are one of the groups Steve Smith accuses of using the re-accreditation process for their "own narrow purposes."

If you are not a member of this ABA Section, you can probably access the Syllabus newsletter at any U.S. law school library.  Subscriptions are also available at:


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