The American Bar Association (ABA) has announced that the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has publicly censured the University Of Kansas School Of Law and fined them $50,000 for admitting two law students into an LLM program without the prior approval of the ABA. According to a release titled, “School of Law Acknowledges Censure by American Bar Association,” the school claims that the sanctions involved a procedural error, surrounding the January 2012 launch of master’s of law degree in American legal studies.
According to the law school, it already had an existing master’s program in place at the time it launched the new program, and it “mistakenly believed that the new program came within the scope of the existing master’s program.” Further the school reasons that it was due to this mistake in belief that it did not seek acquiescence from the ABA.
The ABA censure document however shows that there was little scope for such an error, even by laymen because the scope of the two LLM degrees was quite different. The previous degree was in Elder Law, and the new LLM degree was in American Legal Studies.
The censure document mentions, “The two students who had been accepted into the American Legal Studies LL.M. Program for fall 2012, and who could not be enrolled in that program, because they lacked the required Board of Regent’s approval, were enrolled in the Elder Law LL.M. Program, despite the fact that neither student had a J.D. degree from an ABA-approved law school and thus did not satisfy the admission requirements for the Elder Law Program.”
The document further mentions, “No written communication with these students advised them either that Board of Regents approval or ABA acquiescence was required and had not been granted.”
It seems the “procedural error” and mistake in belief mentioned by the Kansas University isn’t as simple as put forward, because the censure document of the ABA clearly mentions, “After applying to the Kansas Board of Regents for approval to award the new LL.M. degree in American Legal Studies the Law School wrote to the Consultant’s Office to provide notice that the Law School had added a new concentration in its existing LL.M. program, which it did not consider a new degree. The Law School did not disclose that an application was pending for a new degree before the Kansas Board of Regents. The law school also did not reveal that two students had been admitted to the program and were currently enrolled in the Elder Law LL.M. Program, despite the fact that the students did not satisfy the admission requirements, had not applied to that program, and presumably were not expecting to receive that degree.”