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UNT’s law students could be in jeopardy

UNT’s law students could be in jeopardy

Sam Wiggins |Graphic Illustrator

UNT’s law students could be in jeopardy
August 30
07:54 2016

The UNT Dallas College of Law is struggling without accreditation from the American Bar Association in June, and law students can’t take the bar exam unless the law school takes it to the Supreme Court of Texas.

The school will file a petition with the court if the American Bar Association denies the College of Law’s request for provisional approval in October. There have been two times where the Supreme Court of Texas has waived the accreditation requirement for students taking the bar exam, UNT law school officials said.

The school’s main mission is to provide a less-costly and more hands-on curriculum to a diverse student body. This, however, is a key reason why the young law school is facing headwinds.

The American Bar Association reviewed the school in late June and noted the students’ comparatively low LSAT scores in its recommendation letter.

The UNT Board of Regents set a goal for the law school in its first year — to have an LSAT score of 150 for the 50th percentile of its entering class.

The UNTD College of Law has not achieved that goal and “does not appear to have conducted any meaningful study or examination” of why this is other than “reviewing the success of the students admitted,” the ABA wrote in the letter.

While the ABA is concerned about the school’s lower test scores and overall academic standards, the law school still has support from the Dallas Bar Association, as well as the federal, state, county and state judiciary in North Texas, Tricia Magel, UNTD law school’s director of marketing and communications said .

The college has responded to the failed recommendation by providing additional documentation to the ABA.

Only the ABA Accreditation Council has the authority to deny or grant accreditation status. The council will make a decision later this year, after a meeting with school leaders in late October 2016.

“Our faculty and administration has many well-known and highly respected attorneys, legal scholars and former judges,” Magel said. “City and county leadership stand firmly behind the mission of the school.”

Despite the ABA’s indifference to the law school’s mission, the ABA has also expressed interested in creating a more diverse law field. According to the State Bar of Texas Attorney Statistical Profile, a 2016 data chart shows that 83.9 percent of attorneys are white, that leaves only 16.1 percent to minorities.

The law school attracts students who share the commitment to making legal services available to more citizens, to middle class families, small businesses, non-profit organizations and wealthy corporations.

“I would tell students applying to law school to come visit us, and learn about the advantages of attending UNT Dallas College of Law, as part of making a decision,” said Dean Royal Furgeson. “It doesn’t mean every student will find our law school to be a good fit, but we are a good fit for the many students who have chosen to entrust us with their law school education.”

UNTD College of Law is the least pricey law tuition in Texas at $15,133 per year compared to almost twice that price at Texas A&M University School of Law.

“Legal services are just unaffordable for the very poor, and pretty much at all for middle income individuals,” Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht told The Texas Lawbook. “I spoke at the UNT’s convocation, so I’ve already made up my mind. I’m for them.”

Featured Illustration: Sam Wiggins | Graphic Illustrator

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Cierra Edmondson

Cierra Edmondson

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1 Comment

  1. Jim
    Jim September 02, 14:56

    As a retired trial lawyer and 1987 NT Alum I know what Law School lacks. This is critical. Law school lacks teaching Drama, which is the very foundation of teaching the trial process. You act as a trial lawyer. Some people overact, but they get famous for basically because they represent somebody famous. I’ve done that also.
    However, you get famous by winning. I never wanted fame. Flat out, I was just a great actor and a master of stagecraft. I was successful, I retired at 40. I never wanted to be rich, I think stagecraft has to be taught and it is not. Instead, school has fake clinics. Have these kids go to the Death Ward at the prison. Well, rah, rah, rah.

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