National bar association tells Western State that it will reconsider yanking
accreditation, but the Fullerton college's lawyer isn't optimistic.
By Jeff Gottlieb
Times Staff Writer
February 14, 2004
The American Bar Assn. has sent a letter to Western State University College of
Law in Fullerton saying it will reconsider its decision to pull the for-profit
The ABA's Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar will hold a rare
special meeting March 28 near Chicago's O'Hare Airport to discuss Western
But Don Daucher, Western State's attorney, said Friday that he wished the ABA
had been receptive to the school's argument that it deserved to retain
"I don't think there's anything to be encouraged about," he said.
The section recommended in December that the school lose its national
The accreditation status means three things to a law school: It boosts prestige,
helps in recruiting students and enables graduates to take the bar examination
anywhere in the country.
Western State sued, and a federal judge in Santa Ana granted a temporary
injunction last week preventing the ABA from withdrawing the accreditation.
In papers filed this week with U.S. District Judge Gary L. Taylor, the ABA said
that in view of its reconsideration, Western State's case should be dismissed.
The next court date is scheduled for Feb. 24.
The ABA legal education section — made up of 24 lawyers, judges, deans and
professors — was concerned about Western's dropout rate, the number of its
students passing the bar exam and their scores on the Law School Aptitude Test.
Western has argued that it is improving and that it ranks better in those
criteria than some accredited schools.
In 1998, the school received provisional ABA accreditation, 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.
Western will have a chance to make its case before the legal education section
"We're giving the school an opportunity to tell the council in what ways
they think the council had it wrong," said Darryl DePriest, the ABA's
The ABA has no procedure to appeal a decision by the legal education section.
Any decision to pull Western's accreditation would have to be voted on by its
House of Delegates, which meets in August.
If the delegates disagree with the decision, they could send it back to the
section for reconsideration. But the section has final say.