Accreditation

The Higher Education Act of 1965 defines an “HBCU” as “any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans.” Out of 105 current HBCUs, five of them operate law schools: Howard University, Texas Southern University, Southern University, Florida A&M University, and North Carolina Central University. The University of the District of Columbia also enrolls a predominantly black student body, and is home to a law school, but it is not considered an official HBCU by the Higher Education Act of 1965 because it was formed after 1964.

These schools purport to fulfill a noble mission: opening the doors to the legal profession once shut by generations of racial oppression. They offer not only a distinctive purpose in admissions but also a distinctive experience for their students and faculty. Providing access to legal education to historically — and often contemporarily — disenfranchised black men and women is a laudable goal.

Do you know what else is a laudable goal? Getting those same men and women to pass the bar exam so that they can actually practice law. And there’s the rub….

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Some law schools want the bar to be so low they can crawl over it.

Whenever we ask the American Bar Association to make regulations with teeth that would actually improve the quality of legal education, the organization claims that law schools will sue them if they try.

The ABA has no stomach to seriously regulate its member institutions, but individual state bars also have authority to regulate the law schools in their jurisdictions. A new rule in California holds schools to a higher standard than the ABA is willing to impose.

So, of course, a California law school is suing 22 members of the State Committee of Bar Examiners over the new rule. They want to keep their rubber stamp of accreditation from the CBE, since they don’t yet have accreditation with the ABA.

If you think people running accredited law schools are willing to make spurious arguments to justify the value of legal education, wait till you see the stuff they try to pull at unaccredited law schools…

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* From the White House to the ivory tower: Cass Sunstein is leaving OIRA to return to Harvard Law. Perhaps his thoughts on behavioral economics and public policy will be appreciated in academia. [New York Times]

* It’s too late to apologize this time, Cesar. Greenberg Traurig has been sanctioned in the TD Bank to-do for the firm’s negligent failure to bring forth documents during discovery. [Tampa Bay Business Journal]

* Jared Loughner is reportedly set to plead guilty in the Arizona shooting attack that killed six people, including Judge John Roll, and injured 13, including former Representative Gabrielle Giffords. [Los Angeles Times]

* Lance Armstrong is going for the gold against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, this time with a bid to Judge Sam Sparks for a restraining order blocking the USADA from forcing the cyclist into binding arbitration. [Bloomberg]

* “[T]his is not the time for us to become an international accrediting agency.” The ABA will remain a faulty U.S. accrediting agency, because the Legal Ed Section voted against accrediting foreign law schools. [ABA Journal]

* Apparently Texas Tech Law has more than beauty queens. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has appointed dean emeritus and current law professor Walter Huffman to the new Defense Legal Policy Board. [KCBD 11]

* Remember Joshua Gomes, the UVA Law student who allegedly broke into the school’s registrar office? As it turns out, there’s no more “allegedly” about it. We’ll likely have more on this news later today. [Daily Progress]

* Law school graduates’ tales of woe are still making headlines in newspapers. Please take heed, 0Ls, and remember that you decided to discount this info if you’re told that you “should have known better.” [Oregonian]

* If you want to eat mor chikin but the thought of supporting Chick-fil-A’s stance on gay marriage is giving you indigestion, now you can eat your fill with the assistance of Ted Frank’s chicken offsets. [Huffington Post]

There was also mention in the story about the school losing its accreditation, which is a minor mistake.

Ron Southwick, city editor at The Patriot-News, commenting on one of the “minor” errors made in the paper’s incorrect report about Penn State’s supposed plan to close the the Carlisle campus of the Dickinson School of Law, which allegedly would have threatened the school’s accreditation. The paper has issued a correction.

Accreditation Appeal²

* How many of Above the Law’s Scalia groupies tuned in to watch the opinionated Supreme Court justice on Piers Morgan last night? Now we all know what Justice Scalia’s favorite pasta dish is! [CNN]

* In other news, the Supreme Court’s approval rating has dropped even lower in the wake of the Affordable Care Act decision — just 41% of Americans are satisfied with SCOTUS. [New York Times]

* Dewey know if D&L is going to be able to pay out bonuses and retention fees? Not if the U.S. Trustee can help it. They’re not “cost effective or economically feasible” — go figure. [Bloomberg]

* City records for Boaz Weinstein’s and Tali Farhadian Weinstein’s $25.5M lawyerly lair have officially hit the books. Not too shabby for a federal prosecutor. [New York Observer]

* “I am not a racist. I am not a murderer.” George Zimmerman sat down for an interview with Sean Hannity to tell his side of the story. Prosecutors must be thanking Zimmerman’s attorney for this gift. [Orlando Sentinel]

* Duncan Law is appealing its accreditation appeal before the American Bar Association’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. This must be the three strikes approach to accreditation. [ABA Journal]

* Give this undocumented immigrant one of the documents he’s earned. Immigration law professors are lining up to support Sergio Garcia’s attempt to win admission to the California bar. [National Law Journal]

* California’s foie gras ban will remain in effect due to the lack of a “satisfactory explanation” as to why a TRO should be granted. Sorry, but wanting to eat classy French food isn’t a good enough reason. [Businessweek]

* “Many organizations have people who do dumb things.” Members of the Secret Service aren’t the only suits getting secretly serviced. Apparently Treasury Department officials like hookers, too. [New York Daily News]

* The cool cats at WilmerHale arrived for their first day of work yesterday at their hip new downtown location. Their library has a Wii, but who are they kidding, it’s probably just for show. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* On the other side of the fence, we’ve got some signs of the impending lawpocalypse. Soon Biglaw veterans will be forced to say goodbye to the corner office and hello to the glass-walled cubicle. [WSJ Law Blog]

* George Zimmerman: alleged murderer, and now an alleged child toucher (though he was still a child himself). Witness 9 claims Zimmerman abused her for a decade while they were both underage. [CNN]

* “We want to have a bar pass standard that really works. And it’s clear it doesn’t work now.” Oh boy, would you look at that. The ABA is trying to make it look like it’s doing something to improve law schools! [ABA Journal]

* Emory Law received a record donation, and more than half will fund minority student scholarships. Little do these kids know that they’ll soon be condescendingly told to move to Nebraska. [National Law Journal]

* But then again, maybe Nebraska isn’t so bad, considering three law schools are shipping students to neighboring Iowa. The towns are tiny, and the surroundings are rural, but come on, the state’s got jobs. [NPR]

We’ve followed the story of the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School of Law (f.k.a. Southern New England School of Law) ever since its inception. Southern New England was a private, unaccredited law school that was acquired by UMass to become the first public law school in Massachusetts.

I’ve been critical of UMass Law, because there was no evidence whatsoever that Massachusetts needed another law school. I’ve been dismissive of the people who have said, “No no no, Massachusetts needs a public law school,” because even though the word “public” connotes something that is good for everybody, I struggle to see how paying $24,178 per year to go to an unaccredited law school helps anybody.

But now it looks like UMass will receive ABA accreditation. I can’t wait to see what they’ll do with their tuition next….

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