The ABA stopped talking and started firing shots.

Well that was fast.

Over the weekend, the New York Times unleashed a feature article about the role of the American Bar Association in keeping the cost of legal education absurdly high. The school profiled in that article, which we talked about yesterday, was Duncan Law School, which was seeking provisional accreditation from the ABA.

The article, by legal academia bête noire David Segal, came out in print on Sunday. Everybody talked about it on Monday. And today, on Tuesday, the ABA denied Duncan its provisional accreditation.

Boom. Roasted.

That’ll teach these law schools to get chatty with the mainstream media about this little legal education cartel they have going here…

I can’t believe I’m about to defend Duncan School of Law at Lincoln Memorial University, but can anybody remember the last time the ABA denied provisional accreditation? To anyone? For any reason or no reason at all?

The timing of this, three days after the New York Times published its article, creates the unmistakable impression that the ABA denied accreditation in retaliation for the school bitching to the Times. How tone deaf are the people who run the ABA?

Maybe they thought no one would notice. We found out because a tipster directed us to the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. The order denying accreditation to Duncan, dated today, appears under the “Council School Actions” heading. The next thing below that is the public censure of Villanova Law, dated August 12th. So we’re not talking about a page that is updated very often.

The order doesn’t explain why the ABA denied provisional accreditation. I’m sure that after they read my post, somebody at the ABA will come out with some nonsense reason. Duncan’s library was too small, or its faculty was deficient, or something.

But the real explanation seems obvious. Duncan was the NYT’s case study in how the ABA drives the cost of tuition higher because of the accreditation process, and it seems clear that the ABA doesn’t want new member institutions talking smack about the organization to the New York Times. I guess I shouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the ABA to grant accreditation to “Above the Law: The Law School.”

UPDATE (3:50 PM): As a commenter points out, the order claims that the decision was made at a December 2-3 meeting. Conveniently enough, Duncan Law was not notified until today (which is why the New York Times article contains no mention of the accreditation denial).

Honestly, what more evidence do federal regulators at the Department of Education need to see before they determine that the ABA no longer deserves to be the sole regulatory body over legal education in America? They’ve arguably just used the accreditation process to exact revenge on a new law school for talking to the press.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, I’m calling you out. If you step in, maybe Duncan Law School can be renamed after you!

Earlier: To Stop the ABA, Do We Need to Allow Everybody to Start a Law School?


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