Monday, May 20, 2019

Above the Law: TEACH OR DIE: A law school accreditation rule with teeth.

Joe Patrice, Law Schools Have To Actually Teach Lawyers For A Change Or Lose Accreditation: Finally, some teeth to accreditation.


"Schools that fail to place graduates in the, you know, legal profession are rampant and a good deal of that failure rests with schools that can’t even produce graduates capable of passing the bar exam. There’s no better way to land a student in a cycle of perpetual debt than to charge a premium for a professional degree and then leave the graduate unable to pursue the profession."

"Even clown colleges reliably produce clowns." [Joe Patrice's words, not mine.]

"For the last few years, the powers-that-be have kicked around a proposal to hold accredited law schools to a higher bar passage standard.  The ABA’s House of Delegates has rejected the measure to reform the rule a couple of times, but the council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has decided that things have gotten too far out of hand and pushed forward with the new rule:

To be in compliance with the revised version of Standard 316, at least 75% of a law school’s graduates who sat for a bar exam must pass within two years of graduation. Under the previous rule, there were various ways to meet the standard, and no law school had been found to be out of compliance with it."

"A more pressing concern about the new rule is the impact it may have on the diversity of the legal profession given that minority students tend to be overrepresented at underperforming schools. But the goal is improving the diversity of the profession not of law schools. If diversity efforts boil down to bankrupting more students of color then everyone loses. Make schools with better track records at turning out lawyers be more diverse rather than rely on pipe dream factories to make the profession look like it’s trying."

"Spring 2020 will see the first wave of schools impacted by the new rule. If out of compliance, they will have two years to get back in line. Something tells me there will be a lot of scrambling schools by this time next year."

Harsh words, but I agree with the gist of the message.  Admitting minority applicants does no good if those applicants can't pass the bar.  As Patrice points out, minority students who do not pass the bar will be saddled with debts that will affect the rest of their lives.  There is a solution: adopt better teaching methods.  The Carnegie Report and Best Practices came out over ten years ago.  Many law schools have adopted the reports' recommendations, but many have not.  It is time that those law schools that want to keep their doors open adopt these reports' recommendations, as well as those of the many studies of legal education that have appeared since these reports.

(Scott Fruehwald)

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