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Denying Accreditation Gets ABA Sued

Denying Knoxville, Tenn.-based Lincoln Memorial University Duncan School of Law’s American Bar Association accreditation prompted the school to file a federal lawsuit Thursday. In court documents, the school claims the ABA violated antitrust laws, while “arbitrarily and capriciously” denying Duncan School of Law accreditation.

Duncan dean Sydney Beckman the ABA cited the school’s average Law School Admission Test (LSAT) scores as one of the reasons. The suit notes that the school’s first class had a median LSAT score of 149. However, the next two classes had a median score of 147.

With that said, the suit filed in Eastern District of Tennessee’s U.S. District Court claims eight accredited schools have even lower median LSAT scores and offered a possible explanation.

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“The only reasonable inference from this disparate treatment is that the ABA desires to restrain trade,” the complaint said.

The ABA has refused to comment about the lawsuit.

Duncan officials learned about the ABA’s accreditation denial in October. That prompted them to attend a December meeting in Puerto Rico to lobby for accreditation. That effort proved unsuccessful.

However, the ABA reportedly discovered compliance problems, in relation to strategic planning and academic standards as well as achievement.

“A law school shall not admit applicants who do not appear capable of satisfactorily completing its educational program and being admitted to the bar.”

While the ABA doesn’t dictate minimum LSAT scores, it requires that schools make sure students can complete their respective schools’ program. Duncan opened its door in 2009, but hasn’t graduated a class.

The Tennessee Board of Law Examiners and the Southern Association of College and School-Commission on Colleges, according to the suit, have given Duncan School of Law their blessing, while applying ABA-like standards.

” [Duncan] has been the victim of a group boycott orchestrated by defendant ABA in concert with these interested accredited law schools, to the detriment of [Duncan], its students, and the public at large,” the complaint reads.

Duncan is seeks a permanent injunction, which requires the ABA to grant it provisional accreditation. The law school also seeks damages in excess of $1 million as well as attorney fees.

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