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Update From the Managing Director

       William E. Adams

William E. Adams

William E. Adams
Managing Director

The Council, its Strategic Review, and Standards Committees, remain busy reviewing and amending several standards and rules. Several amendments were presented to the ABA House of Delegates at its February Midyear Meeting and the House concurred with all. Those include:

  1. Removing the requirements that the JD program be completed in no less than 24 or longer than 84 months. This determination will now be left to the discretion of the law school.
  2. Permitting the acceptance of credits for courses that are part of a joint degree program even if the course was taken prior to matriculation in the law school.
  3. Relaxing the requirement for preferential registration for JD students in classes with non-JD students to courses that are required or related to bar exam preparation.
  4. Changed the rules concerning schools offering additional locations, permitting schools to have more flexibility in opening other sites without the need to seek permission from the Council.

As has been covered by various publications and blogs, the House also concurred with the expanded Academic Freedom and new Freedom of Expression Standard. I covered this provision in my last column. It will hopefully make clear that the Council wants schools to have policies that provide clarity on what they expect regarding both areas. Schools will be given discretion in the development of those policies as long as they protect the rights of speakers to express a variety of viewpoints consistent with the mission of the school. The House also concurred with changes to the standards regulating law school libraries.

In addition to the above measures being “finalized,” both committees remain busy proposing additional amendments and seeking input on other potential changes. Provisions to extend security of position and thus academic freedom to all full-time faculty have been sent out for comment. The proposal would also require similar participation by full-time faculty in faculty meetings, voting, committees, and other aspects of law school governance. A proposal to revise the standards on learning outcomes and assessment was sent for comment and a revised proposal is being worked on pursuant to the comments received. A proposal to revise complaint procedures pursuant to guidance from the United States Department of Education will also be released for comment. In addition, the Council is currently working on proposed changes that would permit fully online law schools to apply for approval. Finally, the Council sent out a survey asking interested parties if the Council should expand the number of required experiential credits.

As can be seen, the Strategic Review and Standards Committees have indeed been busy making changes and considering others that would improve legal education. The Strategic Review Committee is wrapping up its work and is to be commended for its diligent efforts. The Committee Co-Chairs are Rebecca White and Daniel Thies. The other Committee members are Scott Bales, Mary Lu Bilek, Lelepoki “Becky” King, Cynthia Martin, Carla Pratt, Charles Nash, Barbara Sestak, and Adrien Wing. I cannot thank them enough for their hard work.

As mentioned in my last column, I will be retiring in June and will offer my departing observations in my last column.

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