The University of La Verne College of Law on March 14 received full accreditation from the American Bar Association, an accomplishment gained through the implementation of innovative programs that have increased accessibility, enrollment and success for its students.
This ABA action raises the College of Law from its provisional status, which it received in March 2012.
“We are pleased the ABA has recognized and affirmed the important work of the College of Law in developing future legal leaders in the community,” said President Devorah Lieberman. “Our pursuit has never ceased in realizing the dream Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Paul Egly had in 1970 to bring an accredited law school to Inland Southern California. This action is testament to the power of that dream. I would like to thank former University of La Verne President Steve Morgan for helping shepherd the law school through the journey preparing us for this moment of full accreditation.”
College of Law Dean Gilbert A. Holmes heralded the decision, noting that it comes at a time of great challenges facing law schools in the nation.
“University of La Verne College of Law’s enrollment has been on an upward trajectory the last four years, when law schools throughout the nation are suffering from decreased enrollment due to criticism about law schools’ relevance, high cost, student debt and dwindling job prospects. We are proud to be recognized as leading change for law schools, and even prouder that our hard work has yielded full accreditation,” Holmes said.
The University administration and Board of Trustees have supported the implementation of many innovations at the College of Law in recent years. The school pioneered the “True Tuition Model” in 2014, reducing tuition from $39,000 to $25,500 per year for all full-time students, and $19,000 for part time students, rather than providing scholarships that only benefitted some. In addition, there are no application fees.
These moves position the College of Law as the most affordable ABA-accredited law school in California, and makes a legal education more accessible to the community.
The College of Law introduced innovations to its curriculum in several significant ways. It infused legal writing, and academic and bar readiness into first year and upper-level courses. It added a Court Observation Week for first-year students and two tracks – litigation and transactional law – for second-year students. Practical experiences continue in the students’ third and fourth years, bringing students the values and skills needed to succeed in the bar exam and their careers. The college includes bar readiness courses throughout the student’s time at the College of Law at no added cost.
While other law schools share similar academic innovations, few have fully combined all these innovations in their integrated curriculum.
University of La Verne Provost Jonathan Reed acknowledged the dean’s efforts and those of staff and faculty with reaching full accreditation.
“Dean Gilbert Holmes’ and the faculty’s success is truly remarkable. They have provided broad access for groups often excluded from legal education and delivered transformative educational experiences that have translated into success on the bar exam,” Reed said. “Gaining ABA approval is further proof that the University of La Verne College of Law provides a valuable educational experience for students pursuing a legal career.”
University Board of Trustees Chair Luis Faura called the move to full ABA approval much deserved. “The College of Law serves a crucial role, both for the University of La Verne and society, in producing talented legal professionals and leaders,” Faura said. “We take pride in preparing these future attorneys through relevant curriculum and our core values.”
University Board Trustee Emmett L. Terrell said the ABA’s decision affirms what the College of Law has known for some time.
“The University La Verne’s College of Law is, without question, a unique law school in the region and the rest of the country,” Terrell said. “As the only ABA-accredited law school in the region, coupled with the ‘true tuition’ model, the highly-skilled leadership and faculty, I have no doubt the College of Law will continue to be innovative and accessible to all students. Now, the College of Law can continue its ongoing commitment to excellence and meeting the legal needs of our greater community.”