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Colorado Law School accreditation
still in jeopardy

By ADAM EWING Colorado Daily Staff Writer

The American Bar Association postponed a January hearing meant to assess progress made by CU-Boulder's School of Law in its attempt to build a new law building.

The ABA warned CU last summer that if the university delays construction on a new $42 million law building much longer, the School of Law could lose its ability to proctor the state's bar exam.

The School of Law is scheduled to have the ABA hearing either June 25 or 26.

School of Law Dean David Getches said postponing the review hearing will give the school more time to petition the state for the money needed to start the project that will satisfy the ABA, which has complained about the poor condition of the law school building.

So far, CU has only raised a portion of the $40 million need to construct the new Leon and Dora Wolf Building.

Donors have pledged $12.8 million and School of Law students agreed several years ago to take a $1,000 hike in tuition each year to support construction, raising $7 million for the building, Getches said.

Still, that leaves CU about $20 million short of the estimated costs of putting up the building.

The university would like the state to cover the additional cost, but with the state's economy in the doldrums, CU needs the additional six months to push state legislators for the funding.

Getches said there are several debt instruments that the state could use such as issuing Certificates of Participation, similar to the funding mechanism given to the CU Health Sciences Center campus in Aurora earlier this year.

Certificates, if offered by the state, would provide immediate funding to CU, but delay the time needed by the state to pay off the money borrowed.

Another option would be to increase tuition at the law school, a possibility since the school is underpriced compared to other programs, Getches said.

If the additional money is not allocated before the June ABA hearing in San Francisco, Getches said it is unlikely the ABA will pull accreditation. He said because of the quality of CU's law school, there are other less serious penalties that the ABA could ask for.

The ABA could require that the School of Law make annual reports on its progress in completing the project, or put the school on probation, he added.

ABA spokesman Al Manning said he wouldn't comment on the situation with CU, but he said if there was a recommendation to pull accreditation, the decision would happen in August at the meeting of the ABA's House of Delegates meeting.

"I'm confident that if there is an plausible approval made by the state (regarding financing construction) the ABA would be satisfied," Getches said.

Getches said the new Law building would contain 108,000 square feet of space - half of which would be a library while the rest would include additional classrooms and a mock courtroom.