Phi Beta Cons

ABA accreditation of law schools

What a strange week it was last week. First, I found myself agreeing with Barbara Ehrenreich.  Then, Friday, I found myself agreeing with the American Bar Association.
In most states, law schools have to be accredited by the ABA if their students are to be eligible to take the bar exam. The ABA’s accreditation standards include a requirement that the school have a tenure system. As this story on Inside Higher Ed says, however, the ABA is considering dropping that requirement and allowing schools to decide for themselves what kinds of employment terms they will offer.
That’s perfectly sensible. The details of employment conditions between professors and a law school don’t have anything to do with academic quality.
Law schools should be free to find out what arrangements work best rather than be dictated to by the ABA.
Here’s the solution that cuts this Gordian Knot: the states should stop privileging graduates of ABA-approved law schools and open the bar exam up to everyone who thinks he has accumulated enough legal knowledge to pass.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.