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GREENSBORO — Elon law school students can breathe a little easier today: The American Bar Association awarded the school provisional accreditation over the weekend.
The accreditation means students graduating next spring will be able to take the bar exam and practice law.
The ABA also accredited the Charlotte School of Law.
Jason Aycoth, a student in the inaugural class of 2009, wants to be a trial lawyer. He said he chose Elon University School of Law, despite its lack of accreditation, because of the nurturing atmosphere. Still, he felt better after reading about the accreditation in an e-mail to the student body Saturday.
"Even though you're not worried about it, it's in the back of your mind, and to just see it, read that we got accredited, it's just a great feeling," he said.
The school is only the 200th ABA accredited law school in the country. Elon anticipates winning full accreditation by 2010, after the minimum two-year period of provisional approval is complete.
Leary Davis, dean of the law school, said the accreditation is a testament to the hard work of faculty, staff and the student body.
"They're the people that actually built the law school," he said.
Davis expects the candidate pool of new students to grow now. Accredited schools are listed by the ABA, and students can apply to multiple ABA-accredited schools with a single application. The school's raised profile should improve future student profiles as well.
"We do anticipate after the coming years the quality of students will improve," Davis said.
Elon opened the school in downtown Greensboro in 2006 and will admit its third class this fall.
The school doesn't plan to increase the number of students it accepts. It anticipates a total of 325 students in the fall.
Less than two years after it opened, Charlotte School of Law has received provisional approval from the American Bar Association, officials announced Monday.
The designation means graduates can take the bar exam in any state – and means the school is a step closer to full approval.
“This is a significant milestone for the school,” said Renee Hill, associate dean for academics. “It has been a true journey.”
The provisional approval, also granted to Elon University's law school this week, also renders a law school eligible for federal student loan assistance and allows it to participate in admissions recruiting events with other ABA-approved schools.
If the Charlotte and Elon schools get full approval in coming years, they would be the sixth and seventh such law schools in the state, joining UNC Chapel Hill, N.C. Central, Campbell, Duke and Wake Forest universities.
During the accreditation process, a bar association panel reviewed the Charlotte school's curriculum, facilities, admissions, staff and other factors, Hill said. In two years, the school may apply for full approval, she said.
The private Charlotte School of Law, located on East Morehead Street, opened in August 2006 and will graduate its first class next May. It has nearly 180 students from 17 states and has received applications from all 50 states, officials said.
The school will move to a new site near Wilkinson Boulevard and Interstate 77 in early August, Hill said. The 75,000-square-foot site will include nine classrooms and a courtroom. The new building has 25,000 additional square feet that the school can expand into in the future, she said.