Law Schools

Florida A&M Law Breathes Sigh of Relief, Gets ABA Accreditation


Florida A&M University’s law school, plagued with patches of problems since it reopened in 2002, has won a key recommendation from an ABA committee that it receive full accreditation.

ABA spokeswoman Nancy Slonim confirmed Thursday the ABA’s committee on accreditation is recommending the Orlando-based FAMU College of Law receive full accreditation. FAMU, the state’s only black college, currently has provisional accreditation. The state school has to obtain full accreditation by August 2009 or risk starting the lengthy accreditation process from scratch.

The ABA committee decided to recommend approval following a presentation made by law school dean LeRoy Pernell two weeks ago in Canada and a site visit at the school earlier this year.

“I feel very good about this,” Pernell says. “We won’t issue a formal statement until we get the official letter from the committee, however.”

The final step in the long accreditation process occurs in late July when the ABA’s Council on Legal Education Opportunity meets and may vote on the matter at the ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago. Though approval is not required, it is expected.

Since it reopened seven years ago, the law school has faced a low Florida Bar exam passage rate for first-time test takers, an internal investigation involving the registrar’s office, public scandal over a lawyer’s $1 million donation to establish a chair for which the lawyer would be paid without working for FAMU, lack of a permanent dean and reports of poor morale among faculty and students.

The school has been repeatedly honored as having one of the most diverse student bodies on the nation.

Pernell was hired in January 2008 to revamp the program. He hired about a dozen new and experienced faculty members, cleaned up the registrar’s office and launched a new international law center last year.

“We are going to keep making improvements,” Pernell vows.

Also see:

Orlando Sentinel: “FAMU law soon may get fully accredited”

ABAJournal.com (2008): “‘Steep Mountain’ for FAMU to Climb to Full Accreditation, ABA Report Says”

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