Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

ABA Accreditation Standards Stand in the Way of Law School Reform

ABA LogoNational Law Journal op-ed:  ABA Standards Stand in the Way of Law School Reform, by Kyle McEntee (Law School Transparency):

The ABA's law school accreditation standards require law schools to be the equivalent of a luxury car when an affordable, utilitarian model could do.

"I don't buy that at all." That's John O'Brien, dean of New England Law and chair of the Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar [2011 salary: $867,000], responding directly to the car analogy on NPR last week. O'Brien is the latest ABA leader to deny the need for the ABA to seriously analyze how its accreditation standards affect evolution into, and creation of, more affordable law schools. ... Some examples:

  • To reduce teaching expenses, a school may wish to change the composition of its faculty. ...
  • To reduce the opportunity costs of attendance, a school may wish to compress its J.D. program from the standard 33 months. ...
  • To reduce library expenses, which averaged $1.2 million last year at ABA law schools and topped out at more than $3.5 million, a school may wish to rely primarily on electronic resources and not have a physical library at all. ...

The council meets this week to discuss serious issues facing legal education. This opportunity for O'Brien and the council to do more than protect the broken status quo will be telling. Much of the change necessary at U.S. law schools is not possible without modifying the accreditation standards. The ABA needs to use this power to usher in more affordable legal education.

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The ABA like the AMA has always been a cartel seeking to protect its existent members from new competition. Why would it want to make it easier for new lawyers to enter the business?

Posted by: Steve | Aug 1, 2012 1:02:16 PM