The American Bar Association has granted provisional accreditation to the University of Massachusetts School of Law. With the provisional approval, the school is in’ substantial compliance’ with the standards of the ABA and has three years to gain full compliance.
“Today is a great day for UMass, the SouthCoast region and for our commonwealth as a whole,” Gov. Deval Patrick said in a statement. “The accreditation of UMass Law marks a milestone in our efforts to expand access to high-quality and affordable education. I am proud of the hard work and dedication of UMass leadership, faculty and students, and I look forward to our continued collaboration as we grow our world-class public education system here in Massachusetts.”
The law school was formed back in 2010 at the old campus of Southern New England School of Law. A merger was suggested by Southern New England in 2005 but the plan fell through because of the large costs to obtain national accreditation. The proposal that won was considered more of an acquisition than a merger. The school planned to spend millions of dollars on meeting ABA standards while also operating the law school much like other graduate programs that operate on campus. UMass Law obtained approval from the state’s Board of Higher Education, even though many believed it would cost too much for the taxpayers in the state. When the change was made, the number of law school applications doubled from the previous year.
Earlier this month, Mary Lu Bilek was named the Dean at UMass Law. She is an Associate Dean and Professor at City University of New York.
“ABA accreditation is the gold seal of approval for law schools, and I am so proud of our students, faculty and staff for establishing a legal education program that meets the ABA’s high standards,” retiring UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack said. “Even as we celebrate, however, our aspirations for UMass Law are boundless. Our journey to make UMass Law a national example of high quality, accessible, diverse, and public service-driven legal education is just beginning.”
A spokesman for UMass Dartmouth, John Hoey, said that UMass Law will start the process of gaining full ABA accreditation in the allotted three years. The school will obtain the full accreditation by studying the feedback it was provided during the provisional accreditation process.
“I want to thank the ABA’s Accreditation Committee and Council for their diligence and dedication to quality,” Bilek said. “We look forward to using what we have learned during this process to build UMass Law into one of the nation’s premier law schools in the years ahead.”