Legal Education

With question of accreditation looming, Texas OKs bar exam for UNT Dallas law grads


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Corrected: While the University of North Texas Dallas College of Law is pursuing ABA accreditation, the state supreme court on Tuesday granted a request from the dean that its graduates be able to sit for the July 2017 bar exam.

Texas law prohibits graduates from non-accredited law schools from talking the state bar, Texas Lawyer reports. In August 2016, the ABA’s accreditation committee recommended that the law school not receive accreditation, due to a concern that students admitted would not pass the bar. The committee noted that the school, which took its first class in 2014, admitted a large number of students with low LSAT scores, as well as students who had been dismissed from other law schools.

Royal Furgeson, the school’s dean, appealed the finding. In November, the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar announced that the school’s application was sent back to the accreditation committee for additional review.

The school expects to have ABA accreditation as early as the 2017 spring semester, Furgeson, a retired U.S. district court judge, told Texas Lawyer. If that doesn’t happen, the court waiver also allows the school’s graduates to sit for the bar in February 2018 and July 2018.

Furgeson reportedly told the state supreme court that the initial ABA recommendation was based on seven out of 93 fact findings. According to him, that included questions about financial resources and admissions, but not compliance with curriculum standards, academic support programs and faculty. Annual tuition for full-time, in-state students is $15,133, according to the school’s website.

Nathan Hecht, chief justice of the Texas Supreme Court, said that he knew of two other times the court granted waivers for graduates of unaccredited law schools to sit for the bar. It happened in the 1980s for graduates of Reynaldo G. Garza School of Law, which no longer exists. And in the 1990s a waiver was granted for graduates of Dallas College of Law, which is now Texas A&M University School of Law.


Correction

Updated on Dec. 16 at 10:03 a.m. to fix an error in the amount listed for annual tuition. Annual tuition for full-time, in-state students at UNT Dallas College of Law is $15,133.



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