ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education recently released a draft of a chance of rules and as ABA President James R. Silkenat said, “[The ABA] must continue to evolve to match the rapid changes that are taking place in legal practice in the United States.”
In 1990, the Massachusetts Board of Regents of Higher Education authorized MSLAW to grant the Juris Doctor degree. MSLAW subsequently applied for American Bar Association (ABA) approval while filing an action in Federal Court in Philadelphia challenging some of the ABA’s accreditation standards, arguing that those standards are of questionable educational value, violate antitrust laws, and needlessly increase tuition costs.
A later case brought by DOJ was later settled by way of a consent decree between the ABA and the United States Department of Justice in which the ABA agreed to reform its accreditation process and eliminate some of its law school accreditation standards.
In 1997, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) awarded accreditation to MSLAW. Many of its graduates now practice law throughout New England and California. MSLAW was also received reaccreditation in 2013.
MSLAW continues to criticize The ABA standards that it fails to meet, and encourages the Department of Education to strip the ABA of its authority over other law schools. On December 4, 2006, Massachusetts School of Law officials asked a Department of Education committee to limit the authority of the ABA, complaining that the ABA’s process was harmful to minorities and low-income students and needlessly drove up the cost of legal education. This action followed the publication of a DoE report that was critical of accrediting agencies for being overly concerned about financial and procedural issues and inadequately concerned about the school’s success at educating its graduates.
Some articles on the Issues
ABA and Legal Education: Change Won’t Come from Within (National Law Journal Article by Associate Dean Michael L. Coyne 05.2013)
Identifying the Problems With Law Schools (WSJ Blog Article)
Call for Law School Reform (Inside Higher Ed)
Actual ABA Task Force Memo (pdf) and the ABA Task Force on the Future of Legal Education Home Page