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La Verne law school seeks ABA accreditation

By Jason Newell ,
sgvtribune.com Staff Writer
August 27, 2004

The University of La Verne College of Law is once again gearing up to pursue American Bar Association approval after its latest bid for the designation came up short.

The law school, which is in Ontario, narrowly missed becoming nationally accredited this spring, when the association determined it failed to measure up in a few key areas. But school officials are confident it will obtain the coveted status next time around.

"There are no guarantees in life,' said Dean Donald Dunn, "but I think we will address any issues they have raised, and I don't see any new issues arising.'

A consultant from the association will visit the campus in October to identify areas of concern and offer suggestions, Dunn said, clearing the way for the school to apply again for the designation in March.

The 34-year-old law school has for years pursued ABA approval - which qualifies graduates to take the bar examination anywhere in the country and creates greater appeal for high-caliber students - but has been turned down both times it has applied.

The association rejected the school's most recent application on the grounds it did not meet all of the required criteria.

"There are 55 standards,' Dunn said. "There were really three that they were concerned about.'

The law school is California Bar-accredited, meaning its graduates may not qualify to take the bar examination outside of California or meet the requirements to practice law in other states. In California, 18 law schools are accredited by the American Bar Association, 18 are accredited by the state bar and 11 are not accredited at all, Dunn said.

One concern - about the quality of incoming students - may no longer be a factor as the school has seen a substantial increase in its law school admissions test scores, he said.

Another area where there had been a shortcoming - graduates' passing rate on the bar exam - has also improved, he said. The school ranked the third-highest in the state in February, with a passing rate of more than 65 percent. However, the results were released too late to be a factor in the association's decision.

The association also had concerns about whether the school could meet further compliance standards in later years, Dunn said. But the school continues to grow, he said, with four new faculty members coming on this month and student enrollment increasing to 225 from 199 one year ago.

The accreditation process has been like a marathon, but it appears the law school does not have much further to go, said university spokesman Charles Bentley.

"We can see the finish line,' he said. "It's just a matter of getting that extra stride or two.'