Wednesday, May 16, 2007
ABA's Proposed Interpretation of its Standards for Accreditation
Thanks to a letter that Professor Gary Rosin of South Texas is circulating (available here), I learned that the ABA is considering what appears to be a pretty important change in its standards for accreditation. Rosin, you may recall, is the author of an important study on what affects student bar pass rates (including, of course, students' entering credentials).
Standard 301(a) now states that "a law school shall maintain an educational program that prepares its students for admission to the bar." The proposed interpretation (301-6) would "formalize and clarify the approach taken by the Accreditation Committee in reviewing bar passage data from law schools."
The proposed interpretation provides, among other things that:
If data demonstrate to the Accreditation Committee that the school's first-time bar passage rates frequently are seventy percent or below, the school shall be asked to provide additional data in order to demonstrate compliance with the Standards.
Professor Rosin describes the proposal as establishing "a flat 70% law school [bar pass rate] as prima facie evidence of minimum satisfactory performance of a law school’s academic program." He points out, quite appropriately, that this discriminates against schools that are in jurisdictions that require high bar pass scores. (The ABA, as mentioned above, maintains it is already following this practice.) I'll be interested in hearing where all this goes. Apparently, there was a public hearing on this in San Francisco today.
I have written about bar pass rates a little in the past over at money-law (including some in response to Bill Henderson's post). I haven't seen much discussion of this, though RattlerNation has some more details.
Alfred L. Brophy
Comments are held for approval, so they will not appear immediately.
Thanks for the kind words.
1. My Dean reports from Wednesday (May 16) Deans meeting at the ALI that the response to this proposed interpretation has been large, and overwhelmingly negative.
2. I have picked up at least some support, with at least one Dean joining in my letter by emailing to Dan Freehling, Deputy Consultant, at email@example.com
If you concur, make your voice heard! Send your own statement, or add your name to mine. If the latter, a cc to me at firstname.lastname@example.org would be appreciated.
Posted by: Gary Rosin | May 16, 2007 7:28:40 PM