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Duncan School of Law Denied ABA Accreditation

Lincoln Memorial University’s appeal for provisional accreditation for its law school has been rejected by the American Bar Association. The news comes from documents filed in the school’s lawsuit against the ABA. The law school, which is the John J. Duncan Jr. School of Law, has just 30 days to appeal the decision by the ABA before it becomes effective. Kate Reagan, a spokeswoman for LMU, said that school officials were out of town when the notice arrived and said that no decision has been made if a written appeal will be filed or not.

Sydney Beckman, the dean of the law school, said via a statement that he was disappointed with the decision made by the ABA but also said that the school would not stop trying to acquire accreditation.

“We believe we have met or exceeded every applicable standard for accreditation set forth by the ABA,” Beckman said. “We look forward to working with the ABA to address any concerns that they have and move forward with whatever steps are necessary to achieve our goals.”

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The American Bar Association denied the university for the first time back in December. The school then filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court two days later and filed an appeal of the decision in January. The ABA’s appeal panel heard the appeal from the school and then remanded issues to the Council on Legal Education. The university received a letter about the decision from the council. The letter is confidential and was not disclosed in any court documents.

The lawsuit makes claims of due process violations and antitrust. It was placed on hold by Judge Tom Varlan of U.S. District Court until July 15, pending the appeal’s outcome. Lawyers for the American Bar Association asked that the court continue the hold through August 15 in the filing from Friday. The lawyers argued that the process is still playing itself out because the school has until August 6 to file another appeal of the decision.

The state of Tennessee is a rare bread in that students can sit for the bar exam without graduating from a school accredited by the American Bar Association. To be able to sit for the bar, the school must have approval from the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners. The school received accreditation from that board with the agreement that the school obtain ABA accreditation by 2012. That deadline has now been extended by the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners to December of 2017.

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