Law School Accreditation

Law School Accreditation

Accreditaiton and what it​ means to​ you. According to​ the​ Merriam-Webster dictionary the​ definition of​ accreditation is​ "to recognize (an educational institution) as​ maintaining standards that qualify the​ graduates for admission to​ higher or​ more specialized institutions or​ for professional practice." Law schools generally fall into three catagories of​ accreditation,​ American Bar Association (ABA) accredited,​ state accredited or​ unaccredited.

ABA accreditation - According to​ the​ American Bar Association,​ "Law schools approved by the​ American Bar Association (ABA) provide a​ legal education which meets a​ minimum set of​ standards as​ promulgated by the​ ABA. Every jurisdiction in​ the​ United States has determined that graduates of​ ABA-approved law schools are able to​ sit for the​ bar in​ their respective jurisdictions. the​ role that the​ ABA plays as​ the​ national accrediting body has enabled accreditation to​ become unified and national in​ scope rather than fragmented,​ with the​ potential for inconsistency,​ among the​ 50 states,​ the​ District of​ Columbia,​ the​ Commonwealth of​ Puerto Rico,​
and other territories. the​ Council of​ the​ ABA Section of​ Legal Education and Admissions to​ the​ Bar is​ the​ United States Department of​ Education recognized accrediting agency for programs that lead to​ the​ first professional degree in​ law. the​ law school approval process established by the​ Council is​ designed to​ provide a​ careful and comprehensive evaluation of​ a​ law school and its compliance with the​ Standards for Approval of​ Law Schools."

State accreditation - Most states have their own accreditation process and in​ most cases give accreditation status to​ ABA accredited schools. However,​ there are many law schools that for one reason or​ another do not meet all of​ the​ ABA accredition requirements. Some of​ these schools,​ however,​ do meet the​ states requirements. Note: State requirements can vary by state. if​ a​ school meets state requirements it​ can apply to​ that state for state accreditation.

Unaccredited - According to​ the​ California Bar Association "An unaccredited law school is​ one operating as​ a​ law school in​ the​ State of​ California that is​ neither accredited nor approved by the​ Committee,​ but must be registered with the​ Committee and comply with the​ requirements contained in​ Rules XIX and XX of​ the​ Admission Rules,​ applicable provisions of​ the​ California Rules of​ Court and relevant sections of​ the​ California Business and Professions Code. a​ law school operating wholly outside of​ California is​ unaccredited unless it​ has applied for and received accreditation from the​ Committee or​ is​ provisionally or​ fully approved by the​ American Bar Association."
Rules in​ many other states are the​ same.

Most states require that you meet certain requirements prior to​ being eligible to​ take their bar examination. the​ California Bar states "To be eligible to​ take the​ California Bar Examination,​ one must have completed at​ least two years of​ college before beginning the​ study of​ law or​ must have passed certain specified College Level Equivalency Program examinations before beginning law study and must have graduated from a​ law school approved by the​ American Bar Association or​ accredited by the​ Committee of​ Bar Examiners of​ the​ State Bar of​ California or​ have completed four years of​ law study at​ an​ unaccredited or​ correspondence law school registered with the​ Committee or​ studied law in​ a​ law office or​ judge's chambers in​ accordance with
the​ Rules Regulating Admission to​ Practice Law in​ California." Most states have similar requirements.

The foregoing suggests that many states will not allow,​ non ABA accredited out of​ state law school graduates to​ take their bar examination,​ unless they attended school in​ that state or​ a​ school that is​ certified by that state. Therefore students graduating from non ABA accredited law schools may not be allowed to​ practice in​ any state other than the​ state they attended school. Note: Some states have reciprocal agreements with other states allowing attorneys registered in​ one state to​ become a​ member of​ the​ bar in​ another state without taking a​ bar examination in​ the​ new state.

Notwithstanding the​ foregoing,​ there are many fine law schools in​ this country that are not ABA accredited. Additionally,​ many ABA accredited schools do not offer night time or​ part time classes. Finally,​ there are many more applicants that spaces available in​ ABA accredited schools,​ forcing many good students to​ attend other schools. Therefore,​ accreditation should not be your only criteria in​ choosing a​ law school or​ in​ deceiding whether or​ not to​ hire a​ particular law school graduate.

Permission is​ given to​ reprint this article providing credit is​ given to​ the​ author,​ David G. Hallstrom,​ and a​ link is​ listed to​ Resources For Attorneys the​ owner of​ this article. Anyone or​ any company reprinting this article without giving proper credit and the​ correct link,​ is​ doing so without permission.

Law School Accreditation

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