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ABA Withdraws Western State Accreditation Denial
Associated Press
Feb. 9, 2003
The American Bar Association withdrew its recommendation to cancel Western State University College of Law accreditation.

The reversal followed heavy lobbying by the school at the ABA's annual meeting in San Antonio over the weekend and a federal judge's preliminary injunction Friday. The ABA said Sunday it was withdrawing its recommendation, ABA spokeswoman Nancy Slonim said.

ABA accreditation means a law school can attract higher-caliber students and that they can sit for the bar exam in any state.

"I don't think it's over, but we haven't talked about what's next," Western State attorney Don Daucher said. He was among 10 people lobbying at the meeting since Friday to persuade ABA officials to maintain the Fullerton school's accreditation.

Orange County's oldest law school won provisional approval from the ABA in 1998. In 2003, the ABA's Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar recommended that the college lose its status because of low test scores and a high dropout rate.

The college sued in U.S. District Court seeking a temporary injunction to prevent the ABA from taking action. On Friday, Judge Gary Taylor issued a temporary stay, saying the ABA could vote this week but results wouldn't become official until he considered the matter.

The college argued the ABA is biased against for-profit law schools, ignored evidence that test scores and pass rates were improving under new management, and disregarded its own rules.

 

Western Law gets a reprieve
ABA committee withdraws its recommendation to cancel school's accreditation, for now.

By MARLA JO FISHER
The Orange County Register
Feb. 9, 2004

FULLERTON Western State University College of Law will not lose its American Bar Association approval this week as threatened after an ABA committee withdrew that recommendation Sunday.

The reversal came in the wake of heavy lobbying by the school at the ABA's annual meeting in San Antonio over the weekend and a federal judge's preliminary injunction Friday.

"I don't think it's over, but we haven't talked about what's next," said Don Daucher, WSU's attorney, who has been among 10 people lobbying at the meeting since Friday to persuade ABA officials to maintain the Fullerton school's accreditation.

ABA accreditation means a law school can attract higher-caliber students and that they can sit for the bar exam in any state.

Orange County's oldest law school won provisional approval from the ABA in 1998. In 2003, the ABA's Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar recommended that the college lose its status due to low test scores and a high dropout rate.

The college appealed, and the issue was to have been decided this week by the full ABA House of Delegates. Instead on Sunday, the education committee withdrew its recommendation and the item was pulled from the agenda.

ABA spokeswoman Nancy Slonim confirmed late Sunday that the question had been pulled and the recommendation withdrawn, but she was unable to say whether the attempt to rescind the college's accreditation is dead.

"I think we'll have to wait and see how things come out with the judge," Slonim said.

The college sued in U.S. District Court seeking a temporary injunction to prevent the ABA from taking action this week. On Friday, Judge Gary Taylor issued a temporary stay, saying the ABA could vote this week but any results would not become official until he considered the matter more fully.

The college has argued that the ABA is biased against for-profit law schools, ignored evidence that test scores and pass rates were improving under new management, and disregarded its own rules.

Vote Tabled on Status of Law School

Western State in Fullerton has been in settlement talks over national accreditation with bar association officials.

By Jeff Gottlieb
LA Times Staff Writer

February 10, 2004

The American Bar Assn. has shelved its vote to pull the national accreditation of an Orange County law school, but what happens next is unclear.

Darryl DePriest, the ABA's general counsel, said Monday that the group will send a letter to Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, but he wouldn't disclose its contents.

Don Daucher, Western State's attorney, said he knew nothing of the letter, although he said the two sides had discussed a settlement. He would not provide details.

"I think we're going to have to wait and see what the letter says and go from there," Daucher said.

Last week, a federal judge in Santa Ana issued a preliminary injunction that said the ABA could vote to drop its provisional accreditation of Western State but couldn't implement the results. The two sides are scheduled to appear before U.S. District Court Judge Gary Taylor on Friday.

The for-profit school claims the ABA violated its rules in moving to remove Western State's accreditation.

The absence of an ABA vote and the judge's preliminary injunction may have made a trial on some issues unnecessary, Daucher said.

"If they [the ABA] decide they would follow a more reasonable interpretation of their own rules, a large part of what we would be trying would be unnecessary," he said.

But the attorney and campus representatives contend the controversy has severely hurt the law school's recruiting and has pushed some of its best students to transfer.

ABA approval is the highest accreditation a law school can receive. It not only boosts a school's prestige, but also allows graduates to take the bar exam anywhere in the country.

Western State received provisional ABA accreditation in 1998, which usually leads to full approval within five years.

An ABA spokeswoman said no one at the attorneys' group can recall a school losing its provisional status.

Daucher has indicated Western State would accept an extension of its provisional accreditation as part of a settlement.

Given more time, he said, the school would continue to improve its Law School Aptitude Test scores and bar pass rate, and lower its dropout rate, three factors that drew ABA concern.

By telephone and e-mail, Western State students have been urging each other to lobby the bar association to keep the school's accreditation.

Courtney Blasi, 22, who wants to practice law in her native Kansas, said she is considering a transfer to another ABA-accredited school, such as Pepperdine University or Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego.

"This whole event has strongly affected the future of our school," she said.

Al Hedayati, 25, said that if the school loses the accreditation, the top students will leave, further harming its reputation.

Other students are angry at the school.

Michelle Studer, sitting in the student center, said the school assured her when she entered three years ago that by the time she graduated, Western State would have full accreditation.

"The school completely lied to us," she said.

About 10 Western State officials flew to San Antonio over the weekend to make their case to the 538 members of the ABA's House of Delegates, meeting with several state delegations.

On Sunday, the ABA's Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, which had recommended the accreditation be pulled, withdrew its request to have the issued placed on the agenda.

The delegates' next meeting is in August.