Barry University struggles to gain ABA accreditation

first_img“It’s a difficult one to describe, because we were going outside procedures to do this,” said Dean Stanley Talcott, explaining he had tried a tactic to short-circuit the usual appeal for provisional accreditation to the ABA House of Delegates, which was already in the works. “We were looking for an extraordinary remedy.” Barry University struggles to gain ABA accreditation Associate Editor Orlando’s Barry University School of Law suffered another setback in its quest for accreditation from the American Bar Association, sending its students into a distressing limbo about the fate of their legal careers.The latest twist in Barry’s struggle for accreditation came June 4, when the ABA’s Council for the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar rejected a request to reconsider an application the council had rejected in February. July 1, 2001 Jan Pudlow Associate Editor Regular News Dean Stanley Talcott center_img Barry University struggles to gain ABA accreditation There is no formal process in the ABA rules for reconsideration by the council, but Barry was hoping that the provisions of Robert’s Rules of Order would govern the procedure for a motion for reconsideration. That strategy was turned down.The urgency is sparked by the desire that Barry’s 110 graduates and 320 law students be allowed to practice law in Florida, which they are not allowed to do without Barry’s ABA accreditation.Students who pay $20,000 a year at the private law school are worried whether they will ever be able to practice law.“Obviously, the students have understandable anxiety and concern about their futures,” said Talcott, two days after he gathered many of Barry’s students and graduates together to explain the next step, which is to ask the ABA House of Delegates in August to intervene. If that fails, a new application could push accreditation into 2003.“We’re doing everything we can,” Talcott continued. “We’re going forward with our current application process, and we’re also going to examine other means that can benefit our students. I think, understandably, they are disappointed in the decision, but it’s one of those things where a glimmer of hope has been erased, not a milestone.”Meanwhile, Barry’s lawyers continue to petition the Florida Supreme Court to allow Barry’s latest graduates to take the bar exam and embargo the scores until accreditation, as has been allowed in the past.A supplement to the May petition on behalf of Barry’s January, June, and July 2001 graduating classes, as well as its January, June, and July 2000 graduating classes, was quickly filed June 6 to reflect the latest turn of events.In the original May 25 petition to the high court, “Barry explained the status of its current application for accreditation, which greatly depended upon the actions the Council of the Section on Legal Education could have taken on Barry’s petition for reconsideration at its June meeting,” Barry’s attorneys, Lucinda Hofmann and Rachel Blechman, wrote in the supplemented petition.“Unfortunately for the petitioners, the council’s actions were not those anticipated or hoped for. Although the status of Barry’s application has changed somewhat since the filing of the May petition, this change, as we will show, does not affect Barry’s legal argument or the relief requested in its May 25 petition.”The revised petition went on to explain that Barry Law School is currently pursuing “the last recourse available to it, under the ABA rules, on its current application for accreditation: It has appealed the council’s denial of provisional approval to the ABA House of Delegates. The House of Delegates will hear and rule on the appeal at its August 7-8 meeting. At this August meeting, the House of Delegates may vote to send Barry’s application back to the council for reconsideration. This mandatory reconsideration will then take place at the council’s November 2001 meeting. If, upon reconsideration, the council decides to grant Barry provisional accreditation, the House of Delegates could approve that decision at its February 2002 meeting.”It’s been an uphill battle for Barry, which Talcott touts as “the most diverse law school in the country,” where students are 45 percent female and 33 percent minorities, and half of the faculty are members of minority groups.The ABA turned the law school down for accreditation in September 1998, even before Barry purchased the former University of Orlando in 1999, again in May 2000 and most recently in February, when the cited reasons for denial included:• Concerns about the admission of three students who had low LSAT scores that statistically show reduced likelihood of success in law school and passing the bar exam.• Concerns about the rigor of the education program, the examination process, and whether the school would adhere to its retention policies.• Concerns about the lack of a formal study about the potential impact of the new Florida A&M University law school that will be located in Orlando.After the February denial, Talcott said in a prepared statement: “Those who are most familiar with the school and its students have uniformly praised the quality and professionalism of our students. Barry University and its law school have consistently demonstrated that our students’ performance in legal competitions, in the workplace, and in community service activities meet the highest standards. We intend to take all steps necessary to clearly demonstrate this to the ABA.”After the latest setback, Talcott acknowledged at the meeting with students that chances of success are diminishing, but he tried to restore some hope in asking the ABA House of Delegates to intervene in August.And Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin, president of Miami-based Roman Catholic Barry University, remains committed to keeping the law school running until accreditation in finally achieved.“We are disappointed, but undaunted,” she said. “We certainly owe it to our students to go through this whole process.”last_img

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