The American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, specifically the Section Council, and the Accreditation Committee are recognized as the accrediting agency for programs leading to a J.D. degree. The Council of the Section promulgates the Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools with which law schools must comply in order to be ABA-approved. In addition, the Section’s Standards Review Committee is charged with reviewing proposed changes in or additions to Standards, Interpretations, Rules, Policies, Procedures, and Criteria. Proposed changes are referred to the committee by the Council for its review and recommendations. The goal of the Standards is to establish requirements for providing a sound program of legal education.

This is all by way of background to say that there are important proposed Standards changes which, I suspect, will be of interest to many who follow developments in legal education. Consistent with the Section’s Internal Operating Practices, the proposed changes are currently being publicly circulated for notice and comment. The two proposed changes that have garnered the most interest are:

  • Standard 316, Bar Passage – “At least 75 percent of a law school’s graduates in a calendar year who sat for a bar examination must have passed a bar examination administered within two years of their date of graduation”;  and
  • Standard 501 Admissions, specifically, Interpretation 501-3, “A law school having a non-transfer attrition rate above 20% percent bears the burden of demonstrating that it is in compliance with the Standard.” A full explanation of all the changes can be found here.

The Section is seeking written comments, either by letter or by email, on the proposed changes to the Standards. They should be submitted no later than Friday, July 29, 2016.  The Section will also hold a hearing on the proposed changes on August 6, 2016 at 12:30 during the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, California.


Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools