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ABA Cites Duncan School of Law for Being Out of Compliance
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Duncan School of Law

Summary: Duncan School of Law has been found to be out of compliance with accreditation standards by the American Bar Association.

The American Bar Association called out Duncan School of Law at Lincoln Memorial University in Knoxville, Tennessee for being “significantly out of compliance,” according to the ABA Journal. A letter issued April 5 by the American Bar Association’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar noted that the law school is accepting students who do not appear capable of finishing law school and passing the bar exam.


The letter references Standards 501(a) and (b) which requires the law school to keep “sound admissions policies and practices” and not admit students who are at high-risk of not being able to finish law school or pass the bar exam. The letter also references 501-1, 501-2 and 501-3. The Tennessee law school was found to be out of compliance with these sections, which deal with academic attrition, an incoming classes’ academic credentials, admissions policies and practices, and cumulative nontransfer attrition rates over 20 percent.

The law school’s first-year class has a nontransfer attrition percentage of 22.2 percent, according to the Standard 509 Information Report for 2017. Their median LSAT score is on the lower end at 148 and the median undergraduate GPA is only 3.08. The school had 20 students graduate in 2017, according to data from the ABA in March. The first-time bar passage rate for 2017 was 72.2 percent. Duncan School of Law dean and vice president Gary Wade told the ABA Journal that they actually had 17 graduates that year.

Duncan School of Law was put on provisional accreditation in 2014. The school received its site study in March 2017 by the ABA, which found the school to be in compliance with all sections except Standard 501. The nonacademic attrition requirement is a newer addition to the standard.

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Wade said in an email, “Although our bar pass rates in prior years have met and exceeded the ABA standard, it is true that our attrition, which by the recent interpretation also includes students on a leave of absence, has been a source of concern. After the first semester this year, however, attrition, at 8 percent, would meet the standard. I do not anticipate there to be any substantial increase in that number in May.”

Wade also noted that the law school has adopted a policy to refund tuition to students found academically ineligible after their first semester if their LSAT score or GPA is in the class’s 25th quartile of admitted students. Wade explained, “Although it is impossible to always predict student success based upon entering credentials, this, I believe, addresses the justified goal of the Department of Education and the ABA to encourage schools only to admit those most qualified to meet the criteria for admission to the practice of law.”

The accreditation committee made their ruling in March. The law school must submit a report by August 1 and go before the accreditation committee in November. If Duncan’s report shows compliance with the admissions standard, the hearing could be canceled.

Do you think the accreditation standards are excessively strict or too lenient? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

To learn more about law schools in violation, read these articles:



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