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The University of La Verne College of Law was officially recommended for full accreditation by the American Bar Association, University officials announced Feb. 1.
The recommendation, which comes from the ABA Accreditation Committee, follows an 18-year struggle by the College of Law for full accreditation. The University Board of Trustees first decided to pursue ABA accreditation in 1988.
“One of the reasons we aim for (full accreditation) is because there are no ABA-approved law schools in the Inland Empire,” said Gilbert Holmes, dean of the College of Law, in a recent phone interview.
“We are the only one in our provisional status, and we want to continue to be the only one as a fully approved law school once our provisional status expires.”
The recommendation will be reviewed by the ABA accreditation council in March, when Holmes, President Devorah Lieberman and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Randy Rubin will appear before the Council.
The College of Law received provisional ABA accreditation status, which lasts five years, in March 2012. As a provisional ABA college, the College of Law receives annual visits and reviews from the ABA. The Association visits fully accredited law schools three years after approval, and every seven years afterwards.
Because the College of Law currently has provisional status, the school must write a report each year to the committee.
“The Accreditation Committee then reviews it and sends a decision letter to the school with either some things for the school to focus on, some things for the school to think about or some things they have to look at very seriously in terms of whether or not it’s meeting the standards,” Holmes said.
The committee sent a 60-page report to the College detailing the criteria needed in order to be approved with further detail on what the College can improve on.
The committee has only had two concerns about the College of Law, Holmes said. “Our Bar pass rates and the fact that the University provides a subsidy.”
Despite the areas of inquiries by the committee, the College of Law has met the ABA’s standards of Bar passing rates and has operated with a surplus for the last decade.
The College virtually passed all the requirements needed for consideration, such as: first time Bar pass rates, career services and appropriate faculty.
“This is an absolutely great achievement for the University of La Verne and a fabulous achievement for the College of Law,” said Sharon Davis, professor of sociology.
“I have been here at the University for 35 years and since the day I came they have been trying to achieve this goal. The good news is that we may be at the end of this long process.”
Holmes feels the College has proved itself well to the committee.
“I think everything we are doing at the College of Law won them over,” Holmes said. “I think the committee saw that we meet all of the standards of being a fully approved law school and it’s not that we just meet them, but we solidly meet them and I think the committee was impressed with the College of Law and what we do.”
Provost Jonathan Reed feels confident about the College of Law going beyond its current provisional status, and cites Holmes’ management as the reason.
“Under the leadership of Gilbert Holmes, the faculty and staff have done an excellent job and I am optimistic that the College of Law will receive full accreditation,” Reed said.
Founded in 1970, the La Verne College of Law previously prepared its graduates to practice in California only.
Kristina Bugante also contributed to this report.
Karla Rendon can be reached at email@example.com.