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UMass Law Moves Toward Full Accreditation

BOSTON — The state’s first public law school has moved toward full accreditation.

The American Bar Association (ABA) Accreditation Committee has recommended that the University of Massachusetts Law School, in Dartmouth, be granted provisional approval.

The recommendation was made to the Council on Legal Education, which will consider provisional approval in June.

According to the ABA, “[a] law school may not apply for provisional approval until it has been in operation for one year. … Once a school has obtained provisional approval, it remains in provisional status for at least three years.”

UMass-Dartmouth Chancellor Jean MacCormack, to the AP, said the important step was reached because of “so many individuals of incredible talent and dedication.”

The New Bedford Standard-Times reports:

Accreditation has long eluded the law school, formerly the Southern New England School of Law. That is partly because as an independent school, it struggled to meet the financial requirements that the American Bar Association requires. The law library was also an issue in recent years.

The ABA says its standards “assure that students who attend ABA-approved law schools will receive a sound program of legal education.”

“In many states,” it adds, “a person may not sit for the bar examination unless that person holds a J.D. degree from an ABA-approved law school.”

Also, Princeton Review says, “[m]any firms only accept graduates from ABA–accredited schools, and an ABA–approved education often guarantees a higher starting salary.”

The state Board of Higher Education incorporated UMass Law School in February 2010.

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