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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Law - Still more on "The Price to Play the ABA's Way"

Updating earlier ILB entries, David Segal of the NY Times reported Dec. 22nd in a story beginning:

A law school in Tennessee that was denied accreditation by the American Bar Association sued the organization on Thursday, accusing it of antitrust violations and of depriving the school of due process.

The Duncan School of Law in Knoxville, Tenn., whose quest for A.B.A. approval was the subject of an article in The New York Times on Sunday, learned on Tuesday that its application had been turned down. It filed its case in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee.

The A.B.A.’s decision was a major blow to Duncan, which is two years old and has 190 students. The association is the government-endorsed regulator of law schools and without the group’s blessing, Duncan students face severely limited career options. All but a handful of states require a diploma from an A.B.A.-accredited school in order to sit for the bar and practice.

From later in the story:
Specifically, the council found that Duncan, which is part of Lincoln Memorial University, fell short of a standard that prohibited the school from enrolling students who did not appear “capable of satisfactorily completing its educational program and being admitted to the bar.” The standard, say legal scholars, is to protect students from schools that are trying to cover their costs by admitting people who are unlikely to succeed.

“What is critical to understand here is that the council has a duty to prospective students when it grants a seal of approval,” said Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor and expert on legal ethics. “Their interests may not always align with the interests of the school in winning approval. The people who run the school and the students they want to attract are two different constituencies. The council’s primary duty is to the students.” * * *

What are the odds of Duncan prevailing with this lawsuit? Worse than dim, predicted Professor Gillers.

“The lawsuit is doomed,” he said. “The antitrust argument seems to be that the A.B.A. is limiting the number of law schools. But there are 200 A.B.A.-approved law schools, so if the council’s secret agenda is to limit competition, it’s doing a lousy job.”

Mr. DeBusk, Duncan’s principal backer, appears undaunted. Mr. DeBusk, the founder of a medical device company who was raised in a trailer home in Kentucky, said the school was part of his mission to bring education to the people from the Appalachian Mountains. On Thursday, he was in no mood to retreat.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 24, 2011 09:37 AM
Posted to General Law Related