It has been eight months since Lincoln Memorial University’s law school, the John J. Duncan Jr. School of Law, was denied accreditation by the ABA. Quite a few students transferred out of the school but a new class was admitted and classes have begun for the fall semester, according to Knox News.
“Obviously I’d be less than candid and forthright if I didn’t say it was a concern — of course it’s a concern,” Kelly Tanner said. Tanner is a part-time student in her third year. ”But all the other minutia surrounding this predicament blurs into the background a little bit. It’s there, we monitor it, but at the same time we’ve got plenty of stuff to be focused on with the daily grind of law school.”
In July, the law school’s appeal of the ABA’s decision was denied. Instead, the school was told that it could appeal for a second time. The school’s administration submitted its second appeal and is waiting for the ABA to schedule a hearing, according to Dean Sydney Beckman. In December, the school also filed a lawsuit in federal court that claimed antitrust and the violation of due process. It was filed against the ABA. The lawsuit has been stayed until the second appeal ruling has been issued.
The law school has until 2017 to acquire accreditation from the ABA because of an extension from the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners. This means that the law school students can take the state’s bar exam.
“It reaffirmed our thoughts and we’re proud of this program,” Beckman said. “Our challenges with the ABA have given a misperception that maybe it’s not a strong program — but it is a strong program and nothing the ABA has said has challenged the program’s legal education.”
The law school said it has been tough to sell the school to prospective students but one student from Bell County, Kentucky, said he decided to attend LMU instead of other law schools where he was accepted. “It’s going to come up — there’s no way to avoid it. But I think some people have different hopes and expectations for the ABA than others,” Brandon Rose said. “The culture in northeast Tennessee is the same as back home. I love the people, and I love the state and I don’t have any intention of practicing anywhere else so it’s really of no concern whatsoever.”
In May of 2013, the school will graduate its first class, which consists of 90 students. Those students will then be able to take the state’s bar exam.
“There’s not really anything we can do about the ABA accreditation, but what we can do is graduate and pass the bar and we can show what we’re made of and what this school has provided to us as far as education is concerned,” Nikki Price said. Price is a law student part-time who is scheduled to graduate in May of 2013.