Mimesis Law
23 November 2020

Judge Kane On The ABA’s Handling Of Law Schools

June 30, 2016 (Fault Lines) — District of Colorado Senior Judge John L. Kane was asked his thoughts about the possibility that the authority to accredit law schools will be taken away from the ABA.

I don’t think the law schools are entirely too blame for the sad state of the practice of law as it exists today.  The law schools, however, have done nothing to correct the situation, and that is blameworthy.

I am puzzled by the ABA’s patterns involving accreditation of law schools.  We would hear no end of justifiable scorn if judges, elected and appointed, were permitted to preside and rule on cases in which they have a vested interest.  Indeed, even if there is no vested interest, but the appearance of such, recusal is the standard practice.  The constituency of the ABA’s accreditation activities surfeited with academicians and law school administrators, however, is an example of the fox being placed in charge of the hen house.

Adding more law schools to its approved list, perforce adding to its membership as well, during a prolonged period of oversupplying the need and demand for lawyers, is surely a reflection of poor judgment at least, and probably more to the point, a demonstration of actions motivated by greed and self-promotion.

If the ABA is to be measured by its performance as an organization devoted to enhancement of public service by highly trained and competent persons pursuing a learned art in the spirit of public service rather than a spirit of self-interest and personal aggrandizement, it is failing.  If it is instead an organization seeking to bloat itself with dues paying members and offering them a safe harbor in which to avoid public responsibility, it is succeeding and offering sound reasons for ethical and public spirited lawyers to disengage from membership.

Maybe that is why its membership rolls are dwindling and its influence is receding.


3 Comments on this post.

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  • Richard G. Kopf
    30 June 2016 at 5:49 pm - Reply

    Judge Kane,

    I entirely agree.

    One can easily envision an accrediting body for the entire country. It could be created by the various state Supreme Courts joining together to create such a national body. That national entity would be heavily weighted the other way. There would be a few academics, a few law school administrators, but far more practicing lawyers and judges. I hold out no hope that the ABA can fix itself regarding this issue and many others.

    Thank you very much for this extremely important post. All the best.

    Rich Kopf

  • TMM
    1 July 2016 at 1:55 pm - Reply

    Folks need to remember that not too long ago, the Antitrust Division of the DOJ was looking into whether the accreditation process of the ABA was too tough. The current process is the result of a settlement agreement with the DOJ. I am not shocked that the number of accredited law schools have gone up since.

    • shg
      1 July 2016 at 2:03 pm - Reply

      The problem isn’t the process. It’s the substance, or lack thereof, that can’t do better than 41% bar pass rate (as of last February’s NY bar), even as tuition continues to climb, and the ABA’s failure to address this in its accreditation.