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Jones School of Law granted provisional ABA approval

By Mike Linn
Montgomery Advertiser

The law school at Faulkner University on Saturday became the third in the state accredited by the American Bar Association, the university announced Monday.

Faulkner University’s Thomas Goode Jones School of Law, started in 1928, was granted provisional approval and has two to five years to become self-supporting and improve entering qualifications to keep its accreditation.

Students who graduate from Jones will now be permitted to practice law in any state in the country, granted they pass the bar exam in each prospective state. Prior to Saturday, graduates could practice law in Alabama, although some other states allowed students to take the bar exam after five to seven years of practicing law here.

“Not much work is getting done today,” said Charles Nelson, dean of the law school. "I was jumping up and down when I found out. This is a big thing for us.”

Nelson said Alabama students typically chose the law school at the University of Alabama as their first option, followed by the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University.

But with accreditation, Jones can compete with Alabama and Cumberland for out-of-state and more qualified students, he said.

“All the students have been anticipating this for a while,” said Brian Hoven, president of the Student Bar Association and a third year law student at Jones. “Everyone is overjoyed that this has finally happened, because it is a good law school and we’re finally getting the recognition we’ve been looking forward to having.”

Hoven said some out-of-state students chose Jones in the hopes it would become accredited before they graduate so that they can go practice law in their home state.

Nelson said some students considered putting off graduation until the school became accredited, but opted against the wait.

Keith Norman, director of the Alabama State Bar Association, said Jones is widely respected statewide and worked extremely hard to earn accreditation.

“Faulkner University is to be applauded for their persistence and desire to see that Jones became accredited,” he said. “It’s a real benefit for all the citizens in Montgomery, for Faulkner and everyone in this area.”

He said there are two unaccredited law schools in the state, Miles School of Law and Birmingham School of Law in Birmingham.