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ABA Tours Duncan School of Law as Part of Accreditation Process

Lincoln Memorial law Dean

Lincoln Memorial University’s Duncan School of Law moved a step closer to receiving accreditation from the American Bar Association, according to WBIR.

“The process continues to move forward. This week we had a visit from an ABA site team here to gather up some loose ends. They will file a report to the accreditation committee. The committee will make a recommendation in September to the council that votes yay or nay in December,” said Parham Williams, dean of the Duncan School of Law.

Williams noted that he feels strongly that the school will receive accreditation from the ABA. Graduates of the school can only take the bar exam in Tennessee until accreditation is issued.

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“A lot of things have transpired in the last two years and the progress here has really been significant,” said Williams. “We’ve made all of the corrections the ABA has recommended. There’s a whole new tenor and a sense of achievement at the law school.”

The law school had its accreditation application denied by the ABA in December of 2011. The school filed a lawsuit against the ABA at the time. The lawsuit has since been dropped and has been cooperating with the ABA. Williams was not the dean of the law school at the time of the lawsuit. Williams took over a year and a half ago.

“This time we’re in a very strong position and I can say the site team that was here Monday and Tuesday of this week, well they got excited,” said Williams. “I think as of now we have 92 percent of our graduating class in 2013 have passed the bar exam. For a new law school just getting started, that is almost unheard of.”

Even if LMU performs well, it still might not receive accreditation due to outside factors. Those factors include the notion that the ABA accreditation committee has been pressured into not approving any new members. The reason for this is that current member schools are struggling to attract new students.

“It is certainly an assumption some people make, but this school has a unique mission. It was founded for the purpose of providing legal education services to the under-served population of Southern Appalachia. No other school is really committed to that mission. Even though other schools in the country have suffered declines – and certainly they have, very significant – I think the nature and quality of our mission will enable us to provide increasingly strong educational services to the people of this region,” said Williams.

According to Williams, the school has received 40 percent more applicants this year compared to the same timeframe in 2013.

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