Unaccredited Law Schools

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Most states allow only graduates of law schools approved by the American Bar Association to take their bar exams. But a few operate their own certification systems or open their bar exams to anyone who has graduated from a law school within their borders. In some of these states-including Alabama, California, the District of Columbia, Georgia (until 1998) and Tennessee-non-ABA-accredited law schools still exist. Bartons Guide counted 38 such schools in 1990 (excluding the District of Columbia Law School, which has since become accredited).
Unaccredited Law Schools

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Students attending these law schools face considerable obstacles. Because the schools are not obligated to follow the national curriculum prescribed by the ABA, their courses of study may not be adequate for legal practice. Nor is there any consistent guarantee of quality. (Some states provide state supervision of unaccredited law schools, but most do not. California has its own state system of accreditation, but not all of the non-ABA-accredited schools in California have been state-accredited.) To keep costs low, unaccredited schools tend to rely more heavily on part-time instructors and may skimp on facilities and libraries. And since most students at such schools are there because they were unable to obtain admission to ABA-accredited schools, the learning environment may not be as fertile. Because of these educational handicaps, smaller proportions of graduates of unaccredited law schools pass the bar exam than graduates of ABA-accredited schools.

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American Bar Association (ABA)


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