Accreditation Committee Decision


Accreditation Committee Decision

Accreditation Committee Decision: Notice of Specific Remedial Action, December 2017


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS about the Accreditation Committee Decision:

The Accreditation Committee of the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar has directed the Appalachian School of Law to develop a reliable plan to insure its compliance with the Standards relating to the admission of students who appear capable of completing its program of legal education and being admitted to the bar. The ABA compliance concerns are focused on the academic credentials, LSAT scores, law school performance, and bar passage of ASL students in the fourth quartile. See the Decision of the Accreditation Committee, December 2017. The Law School is addressing the ABA’s concerns and will demonstrate its full compliance with all ABA standards. In the meantime, ASL will continue to fulfill its mission to provide high quality legal education for people from Appalachia and beyond to realize their dreams of practicing law and bettering their communities.

Is Appalachian School of Law still accredited by the ABA?
Yes, ASL remains on the list of ABA accredited schools.

Has the ABA placed ASL on probation or sanctioned the Law School?
No, ASL is not on probation and has not been sanctioned by the ABA. The ABA, however, directed ASL to develop a reliable admission plan.

Why did the ABA direct the Law School to develop an admission plan that complies with specific Standards?
The Accreditation Committee determined the Law School was not in compliance with Standard 501(a) and (b) with respect to the requirements that the Law School not admit applicants who do not appear capable of earning the J.D. degree and passing the bar. There is no allegation of any wrongdoing or misconduct on the Law School’s part.

Have other law schools been directed to develop a plan to address noncompliance with ABA Standards?
Yes, other law schools have been directed to develop a plan to address their compliance with specific Standards. Other schools have successfully implemented plans to return to full compliance with all ABA Standards.

Does the ABA action affect students’ ability to receive Financial Aid?
No. ASL students remain eligible for federal student financial aid.

Before the ABA reviews the success of ASL’s compliance plan, will students graduate from an ABA accredited school and be qualified to sit for the bar?
Yes, students attending ASL, an ABA accredited school operating under a directed reliable plan, will graduate from an ABA accredited law school and be eligible to sit for the bar.

What is the Law School doing to address the ABA’s concerns about its admission procedures?
ASL engaged an outside expert to conduct a statistical analysis of the academic credentials, LSAT scores and law school performance of ASL students in the fourth quartile who were admitted from 2009 to 2016. The performance focus of the study was on academic attrition, graduation rate, and ultimate bar passage. The results of the analysis reinforced the Law School ’s belief that all of the students admitted since 2009 appeared to be capable of completing ASL’s academic program and passing the bar exam. We learned, however, ASL’s admission procedures will be strengthened by adopting a minimum LSAT, UGPA, and an Index that combines both of those features based on a formula recommended by the Law School Admissions Council. These admission adjustments will be implemented as a core element of the Law School’s reliable plan.

ASL’s outside expert also analyzed the Law School’s new Academic Excellence program. The expert documented the early success of the program based on the performance of 1L Academic Excellence students in the 2017 fall semester. The expert’s report on the Academic Excellence program was shared with the ABA Accreditation Committee. Based on that report and the oral presentation of the Dean, the Associate Dean, and the Chair of the ASL Board of Trustees, the ABA concluded ASL is complying with Standard 301(a) that requires ASL to “maintain a rigorous program of legal education that prepares its students, upon graduation, for admission to the bar and for effective, ethical, and responsible participation as members of the legal profession.”

Another important element of ASL’s reliable plan will be the continued study of the Academic Excellence program to monitor continued success in developing the critical skills of students. Finally, our expert will complete a statistical analysis of the academic credentials, LSAT scores, law school performance (academic attrition and graduation rate), and bar passage of all ASL students admitted from 2009 to 2016. The Law School will share the results of that study with the ABA.

What is the financial position of the Law School?
The Law School is meeting its financial obligations and will continue prudent financial management.