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Update From the Managing Director

       William E. Adams

William E. Adams

William E. Adams
Managing Director

Summer is a busy time for the Council and the Managing Director’s Office. The Section offered several workshops during the summer months. These included: New Deans’ Workshop, Deans’ Workshop, Associate Deans Workshop, Questionnaire Training, Site Chairs Training, and Site Evaluation Workshop.

Summertime also brings the end of a Council year. The 2023-2024 year officially begins at the conclusion of the ABA Annual Meeting.  Elections were held on August 4th at the Section’s Annual Business Meeting. The results of the elections were:

Chair-Elect—Professor David Brennen, University of Kentucky College of Law

Vice-Chair—Daniel Thies, Esq.

Secretary—Dr. Charles Nash, Senior Vice Chancellor Emeritus for Academic Affairs and Student Affairs for the University of Alabama System

Current Members nominated for a second term—

1. Associate Dean Sue Kay, Vanderbilt University Law School
2. Daniel T. Madzelan, Senior Fellow, American Council on Education

New Members-at-Large nominees—

1. Chief Justice Nathan L. Hecht, Supreme Court of Texas
2. Justice Melissa Hart, Colorado Supreme Court
3. Dean José Roberto (Beto) Juárez Jr., Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law
4. Associate Dean Scott B. Pagel, The George Washington University School of Law

Law Student Division Member—Jehan Senai Worthy, University of Massachusetts School of Law

Section Representative to the ABA House of Delegates—Dean Emeritus Leo P. Martinez, University of California College of the Law, San Francisco (who ended his term as Immediate Past Chair)

Bridget McCormack, President and CEO, American Arbitration Association, will Chair the Council.

Joseph K. West, Partner and Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, Duane Morris LLP, will become Immediate Past Chair.

Members leaving the Council are: Dean Craig M. Boise, Syracuse University College of Law; Mary McQueen, President, National Center for State Courts; and Judge Phyllis Thompson, District of Columbia Court of Appeals. Finishing his term as Law Student Division Member is Andrew Crane, Michigan State University College of Law. Completing her term as Section Representative to the ABA House of Delegates is Associate Dean Joan Howland, University of Minnesota Law School.

The New Council quickly got to work at its first meeting in August.  Major actions taken include:

  • Approval of final revisions to proposed changes in the ABA Standards and Rules related to (1) sanctions for noncompliance with the Standards and (2) public disclosure of Council decisions and accreditation status. These changes will go to the ABA House of Delegates (HOD) for its concurrence at the 2024 Midyear Meeting in February in Louisville, Kentucky.
  • The changes would better define the sanctions for noncompliance with the Standards. The hierarchy of sanctions — from least severe to most severe — would be private censure, public censure, probation, and withdrawal of provisional or full approval. The changes would also reclassify four of the sanctions as penalties — (i) a monetary payment; (ii) a requirement that the law school refund all or part of tuition and fees paid by students; (iii) publication or distribution of an apology or corrective statement by the school; or (iv) a prohibition against initiating new programs for a specific period — and allow the Council to add them to sanctions handed down to schools.
  • Approved sending out for Notice and Comment several proposals from the Strategic Review Committee and the Standards Committee. They include proposals to:
    • Create new Standard 208, which seeks to ensure that law schools properly protect academic freedom for teachers and freedom of expression more broadly in the law school and amend Standard 405 which covers academic freedom.
    • The current standards do not fully address academic freedom nor freedom of expression. Proposed Standard 208 would: (1) move the discussion of academic freedom from Standard 405(b), more specifically address the scope and application of a school’s required policy, and decouple the issue of academic freedom (which will apply to all those teaching in the law school) from security of position (which applies only as specified in Standard 405); (2) add a new discussion of freedom of expression modeled on policies adopted by law schools and universities nationwide; and (3) place the Standard in Chapter 2 (Organization and Administration) because these requirements, like others in that chapter, concern the law school’s operation generally and are not specific to topics addressed in other chapters, such as Chapter 3 (Program of Legal Education) or Chapter 4 (Faculty).
    • Revise “Learning Outcomes and Assessment and Instructional Role of Faculty” – Revisions to Standards 301, 302, 314, 315, and 403. These proposals make several changes so law schools better understand what they are expected to do in these areas. It also clarifies the percentage of the first one-third of each student’s coursework that full-time faculty must teach and requires annual education on effective teaching for the full-time faculty.
    • Amend Library and Information Resources Standards– Revising and Re-Organizing Chapter 6, which seeks to give law libraries flexibility to use space, technology, information resources, and collection formats most appropriate for their law schools. Furthering flexibility for law libraries, there is no longer a requirement of a core collection (former Standard 606(a)) that must consist of the materials enumerated in former Standard 606(b); revised Standard 604(a) instead requires reliable and efficient access to a collection of materials and information resources that is complete, current, and in sufficient quantity or with sufficient continuing access. The new standard would require a law school to maintain a law library and information resources sufficient to operate in compliance with the Standards and to carry out its program of legal education.
    • Revise additional standards related to law school financial budgeting, the period permissible for students to finish their studies, availability of pre-law school transcripts and handling of student complaints implicating compliance with the standards.

As can be seen, the new Council has started with an ambitious agenda for the coming year.  I look forward to working with Bridget McCormack as she begins her term as Chair and new members, who have already made contributions to the Council’s work.

I want to close the column by thanking the outgoing Council members, whom I have gotten to know and admire during their terms.  All have made significant contributions to the work of the Council and legal education.  I also want to thank Joe West, whose humor, wisdom and insight have inspired me throughout his term as Chair.  I thank him for his support to me and leadership provided to the Council.

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