Law Schools

Thomas Jefferson School of Law wins California accreditation

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The State Bar of California’s Committee of Bar Examiners voted Friday to approve state accreditation for Thomas Jefferson School of Law, an ABA-accredited institution that has been on probation since November 2017.

The vote was 8-7, with one committee member abstaining.

California law requires that bar applicants graduate from a law school accredited by the ABA or the state. The San Diego-based law school this month sought California accreditation in case it loses its ABA accreditation, according to the State Bar of California’s Committee of Bar Examiners memo.

The council to the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar found the law school was out of compliance with Standards 202(a) and (d), which address program resources; Standard 301(a), which deals with legal education program objectives; and Standards 501(a) and (b), which focus on admissions. A fact-finding visit was scheduled for this past March, the ABA notice states.

California law school accreditation usually takes approximately three years, according to the committee of bar examiners memo. But the law school sought a fast track of sorts with a waiver of the usual requirements. The memo recommended that the body find the law school accredited “as a result of its ABA accreditation and approval status.” The law school has had ABA accreditation since 1996, according to the memo, and it also seeks an acquiescence for its non-JD programs.

“Staff reviewed the school’s self-study, which suggests that TJSOL would be in substantial compliance with the more flexible rules and guidelines for California-accredited law schools,” the memo states.

The committee also approved staff’s recommendation that if the law school’s ABA accreditation is denied, its California accreditation should continue, providing that it undergoes a full inspection within 12 months to determine whether it is in compliance with state requirements.

Linda Keller, the law school’s interim dean, did not respond to an ABA Journal interview request for comment. According to the California bar examiners memo, the TJSOL disputes the ABA’s findings and is trying to come into compliance with the standards in question.

Joan Bullock, who was appointed the law school’s dean in 2017, recently resigned, Above the Law reports, and Keller told the site that the TJSOL will not be admitting a new class for the spring 2019 term. Also, in a May press release, the school announced it was moving its campus to a smaller location as part of its Moving Forward plan.

The law school has 521 students, according to its Standard 509 Information Report for 2017, and its median LSAT score is 144. Its first-time bar passage rate for the class of 2017 was 29.17 percent, and its ultimate bar passage rate, based on the class of 2015, was 76.75 percent, according to bar passage outcome data assembled by the ABA’s legal ed section.

Annual tuition at the law school is $49,500, according to its website.

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