The American Bar Association’s accreditation committee found the Lincoln Memorial University’s Duncan School of Law is “significantly out of compliance” with certain accreditation standards. Specifically the committee found the law school was admitting candidates who do not appear to be capable of completing law school and passing a bar exam.
The ABA’s Compliance Guidelines
The American Bar Association publishes Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools where it gives guidance for admissions standards. Standard 501(a) states, “A law school shall adopt, publish, and adhere to sound admission policies and practices consistent with the Standards, its mission, and the objections of its program of legal education.” Standard 501(b) states, “A law school shall only admit applicants who appear capable of satisfactorily completing its program of legal education and being admitted to the bar.”
In the April 5, 2018 letter to the President and Dean of the Lincoln Memorial University, the ABA found that the Knoxville Law School was not maintaining “sound admissions policies and practices” after a finding that 22.2% of all first year law students were dropping out of law school.
Gary Wade, Dean of the law school, told the ABA Journal his school’s bar pass rates in prior years, approximately 72%, have met and exceeded the ABA standard, but the attrition rate has been a source of concern. He further reported that after the fall 2017 semester, the attrition rate was much lower, 8%, which would meet the ABA standard. Dean Wade also stated he did not anticipate the rate being much higher than the 8% after the spring 2018 semester.
This Is More Common Than You Think
In an article in Above the Law, Stacy Zaretsky discusses a study by Professor Jerry Organ of the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minnesota. The study determined the attrition rates for all law schools have decreased after the great recession. Professor Organ attributes the higher non-transfer dropout rates to law schools accepting students with lower LSAT scores. The reason appears to be that less qualified applicants are applying for law school, and law schools are accepting the students despite indications they may not complete law school in order to keep the tuition dollars coming into the school.