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September 13, 2023

ABA Managing Director, Legal Education and Accreditation

Invitation to Apply for the Position of Managing Director, Legal Education and Accreditation

ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar Chicago, IL

The Council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar (the Council) is seeking a highly respected leader from the legal academy, the practicing bar, or the judiciary to assume the role of Managing Director of Legal Education and Accreditation.

The Council and the American Bar Association seek a diverse field of candidates, who embrace the Council’s responsibility to ensure the quality of legal education in the United States and the Section’s mission to provide leadership on issues related to legal education and bar admission. The Managing Director is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Section office and is assisted by a staff of 20 professionals. Based in Chicago and reporting to the Council and the ABA General Counsel, the Managing Director is also responsible for promoting beneficial and cooperative relations with other organizations in support of the Council’s accreditation and leadership functions. The next Managing Director will assume the position in the summer of 2024 upon the retirement of Bill Adams, who has ably served in this role since 2020.

With the staff and a set of experienced volunteers, the Managing Director supports and collaborates with the Council to assure that the Standards for Approval of Law Schools are uniformly and fairly enforced and are responsive to the ever-changing environment of legal education and the practice of law.

The next Managing Director will present a strong record of pertinent experience and enjoy the respect of the legal academy, the judiciary, and the legal profession. The next Managing Director will demonstrate excellent communication and collaborative skills and will be familiar with legal education, the legal profession, higher education, accreditation, bar examination and bar admissions.

A nine-member committee, chaired by Leo P. Martinez, current Andersen Managing Director and Dean Emeritus UC College of Law San Francisco, is conducting the search for the next Managing Director. The executive search firm of Isaacson, Miller has been engaged to manage the search process. Tim McFeeley is leading this search with Karreem Mebane and Henry Nickerson. Inquiries, nominations and applications should be directed in confidence to: director legal.

Electronic submission of applications and correspondence is strongly preferred. Review of nominations and applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled.

The ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar

Members of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar are part of a 15,500 member group that strives to improve legal education and lawyer licensing by fostering cooperation among legal educators, practitioners and judges through workshops, conferences. and publications.

The Section’s Council is the national accrediting body for American legal education. Under Title 34, Chapter VI, §602 of the Code of Federal Regulations, the Council is recognized by the United States Department of Education (DOE) as the accrediting agency for programs that lead to the JD degree. In this function, the Council and the Section are separate and independent from the ABA, as required by DOE regulations.

The Council of the Section promulgates the Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools with which law schools must comply in order to be ABA-approved. The Standards establish requirements for providing a sound program of legal education. The law school approval process established by the Council is designed to provide a careful and comprehensive evaluation of a law school and its compliance with the Standards.

The Council is comprised of 21 voting members, no more than 10 of whom may be legal academics. Other members of the Council include judges, practicing attorneys, one law student, and at least three public members. By tradition, the Chair rotates among a judge, an academic, and a practicing lawyer.

The Standards for Approval of Law Schools, the associated Rules of Procedure, additional information about the accreditation process, and other information about legal education may be found here For information about the American Bar Association, please see:

The mission of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the ABA’s first section, is:

  • To be a creative national force in providing leadership and services to those responsible for and those who benefit from a sound program of legal education and bar admissions,
  • To provide a fair, effective, and efficient accrediting system for American law schools that promotes quality legal education, and
  • To continue to serve, through its Council, as the nationally recognized accrediting body for American law schools.

The Role of the Managing Director

The Managing Director is responsible for the administration of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the Council of the Section’s Law School Accreditation Project, the ABA Standing Committee on Paralegals, and the ABA Standing Committee on Specialization. The Managing Director currently reports to the General Counsel of the ABA as an ABA employee and to the Council on accreditation matters.

The administrative functions of the Managing Director’s Office include, but are not limited to, overseeing the training and appointment of law school site evaluation teams, the collection of law school data in accordance with the Standards for Approval of Law Schools, and the dissemination of site team reports and other relevant accreditation materials to the Council.

The Managing Director’s Office may also provide guidance on compliance with the Standards, although that guidance is not binding on decisions made by the Council.

To successfully lead the Section and the Accreditation Project, the next Managing Director must address a set of key opportunities and challenges. These will include:

  • Internally leading the department responsible for the ABA’s law school accreditation process, which includes standard-setting and review, law school accreditation and reaccreditation (now every 10 years), and data collection;
  • Overseeing the budget, membership initiatives, publications, workshops, conferences and programs of the Section
  • Managing negotiations and litigation involving the Council and the ABA on accreditation issues;
  • Externally working with and representing the Council with law schools, deans, national legal education organizations including: AccessLex, the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), the American Association of Law Libraries (AALL), the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), the National Association of Law Placement (NALP), other legal education organizations (e.g., the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA), the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT), the SouthEastern Association of Law Schools (SEALS), the Association of Legal Writing Directors (ALWD), professional organizations (e.g., ABA, the Council of Chief Justices (CCJ), the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), state bars and bar admissions offices), as well as higher education entities and organizations (U.S. Department of Education, accreditors and accrediting organizations);
  • Providing guidance and direction on budget, membership and marketing, and strategic planning for the Standing Committees on Paralegals and Specialization;
  • Participating as a senior leader within the ABA, including weekly meetings, and otherwise as directed; and
  • Performing other related duties as required.

As a normal course of business, this job will require significant travel.

Desired Qualifications and Experience

The successful candidate should bring many of the following professional qualifications, skills, experience, and qualities to the role:

  • J.D. degree and current or prior admission to practice law in at least one state;
  • Substantial, leadership and management experience in one or more of the following: legal education, higher education, law practice, judicial service, bar admissions, accreditation, other regulatory work (particularly work related to the legal profession);
  •  Vision and creativity to help guide the Council’s operations and the accreditation process during transformative changes in legal education and law practice;
  • Substantial knowledge of accreditation processes in general, and in particular, the accreditation of JD-programs for American law schools;
  • A commitment to and track-record of promoting diversity within legal education and the legal profession;
  • Respect among peers in the legal academy, judiciary and legal profession;
  • Exceptional communication and relational skills;
  • Willingness and capacity to be the face and voice for high quality legal education;
  • Ability to listen and entertain various points of view and collaborate with multiple constituencies and stakeholders;
  • Entrepreneurial attitude and ability to confront and solve difficult issues;
  • Ability to mentor staff;
  • Excellent strategic and negotiating skills; and
  • Ability to set priorities and be pro-active.

Application Procedure

Interested applicants are required to send a cover letter and curriculum vitae to the following web address: Nominations and inquiries must also be submitted to the same web address with correspondences addressed to the search firm representatives noted below. Application reviews will begin immediately and continue until the completion of the search process.

Tim McFeeley, Partner Karreem Mebane, Senior Associate Henry Nickerson, Search Coordinator
Isaacson, Miller
263 Summer Street, 7th floor Boston, MA 02210

The American Bar Association is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer of all protected classes including veterans and individuals with disabilities.