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January 07, 2019

Legal Education Reform Index Factors

The ABA Rule of Law Initiative’s Legal Education Reform Index (LERI) is based on 22 factors drawing upon the criteria and principles outlined in some of the fundamental international instruments related to higher legal education. The LERI does not employ any numerical “scoring” mechanism; rather, it makes qualitative evaluations of specific factors. Each factor, or statement, is allocated one of three values: positive, neutral or negative. These values only reflect the relationship of that statement to a country’s legal education system. If a statement strongly corresponds to a given country’s reality, the country is given a score of “positive” for that statement. If the statement does not represent the conditions in that country, it is given a “negative.” And if the conditions within the country correspond in some ways but not in others, it is given a “neutral.” Below is a complete list of the LERI categories and factors.

I.  Licensing, Accreditation and Evaluation

Factor 1: Regulation of legal education by a duly authorized entity

Legal education is provided by institutions duly authorized by the state body, professional association or other entity responsible for regulating legal education.

Factor 2: Standards for licensing and accreditation

The standards for licensing and accrediting institutions providing legal education are clearly defined by the responsible state body, professional association or other entity duly authorized to regulate providers of legal education.

Factor 3: Licensing and accreditation procedure

Initial licensing and accreditation of institutions providing legal education includes an external evaluation process based on established rigorous, transparent, uniform and internationally accepted quality assurance standards. To ensure continued compliance with these standards, licensed and accredited institutions providing legal education are also subject to a periodic, rigorous and transparent external evaluation process.

Factor 4: Disciplinary and enforcement actions

When institutions providing legal education fail to comply with established quality assurance standards, disciplinary or enforcement actions are administered fairly, consistently and transparently, with an appeals process.

II. Admission Policies and Requirements

Factor 5: Admission examination and/or other entrance standards

Admission to institutions providing legal education is based upon passing a fair, rigorous and transparent entrance examination or a comparable set of uniform admission standards that are designed to ensure that the student body has the academic potential to complete the course of study and effectively practice law.

Factor 6: Non-discriminatory admission

Admission to institutions providing legal education is not denied for reasons of race, gender, sexual orientation, color, religion, political or other opinion, ethnic or social origin, membership of a national minority, property, birth, language or physical disability.

Factor 7: Special admission measures

Special admission measures to increase representation of disadvantaged members of society or otherwise underrepresented groups are appropriately employed, where applicable, to further a desirable goal of society or an institution providing legal education.

III. Curriculum and Teaching Methodology

Factor 8: Comprehensive curricula

Institutions providing legal education have curricula that are comprehensive and incorporate recent developments in national, comparative and international law in order to provide students with the requisite knowledge and skills to effectively and responsibly practice law.

Factor 9: Instruction in ethics and core professional values

Law students receive adequate instruction in the core values and ethics of the profession, including relevant codes of conduct.

Factor 10: Professional skills instruction

Law students receive adequate instruction in professional skills, including critical thinking, legal research, analysis and writing, advocacy skills and client relations.

Factor 11: Teaching methodologies

Faculty employ varied teaching methodologies that are appropriately geared at developing professional skills, ethics and respect for the rule of law.

IV. Student Evaluation, Awarding of Degrees and Recognition of Qualifications

Factor 12: Student evaluation and/or examination

Student performance and achievement of stated learning outcomes are assessed by fair, uniform and stringent written examinations or other objective and reliable assessment techniques.

Factor 13: Awarding of degrees

Qualifications and degrees awarded reflect that students have successfully completed all requirements and met all standards for the awarding institution.

Factor 14: Institutional record-keeping

Institutions providing legal education maintain accurate records that meet national and international quality assurance frameworks and standards in order to facilitate comparability and compatibility of qualifications.

Factor 15: Recognition frameworks and networks

Institutions providing legal education participate in national, regional and international quality assurance and recognition networks, and their participation is facilitated and monitored by the entity in charge of regulating institutions providing legal education.

V. Faculty Qualifications and Conditions of Employment

Factor 16: Faculty qualifications

Law faculty possess requisite knowledge and competence in their subjects to provide a quality education to students, as evidenced by degrees held, scholarly publications, practical experience as well as strong teaching skills.

Factor 17: Hiring, promotion and tenure

Faculty hiring, promotion and granting of tenure, or its equivalent, are based on rigorous, fair, uniform and transparent criteria and procedures, with a process for seeking appeal or review of adverse decisions.

Factor 18: Faculty compensation

Compensation for law faculty is set at an appropriate level to provide a reasonable standard of living in order to attract and retain qualified, dedicated and ethical faculty who are able to devote their time to teaching, research and public service.

Factor 19: Academic freedom and freedom of association for law faculty

Institutions providing legal education and individual law faculty members enjoy academic freedom, are encouraged to engage in research, are not punished for holding positions relating to academic debate, research or public service, and have the right to freedom of association.

VI. Institutional Holdings and Capacities

Factor 20: Access to legal materials

Students and faculty have adequate access to the full range of laws and legal materials (national and international) relevant to curriculum subjects and the eventual practice of law, with materials available in all official state languages where appropriate.

Factor 21: Physical facilities and technological capacities

Institutions providing legal education possess adequate physical facilities and technological capacities to meet the needs of their current program of legal education and anticipated growth.

Factor 22: Class size and administrative/support staff

Institutions providing legal education have a reasonable student-to-teacher ratio, appropriate class size and sufficient administrative and support staff to achieve the educational goals of the institution.