ABA denies application for full approval, withdraws provisional status effective June 30.

ONTARIO, Calif., June 13, 2011 – The American Bar Association has denied the University of La Verne College of Law’s application for full approval and withdrawn its provisional status, officials announced on Monday.

The announcement came shortly after law school officials received the news in a telephone call from the ABA. While detailed findings are not yet available, the ABA Council’s overall opinion was that the law school’s first-time bar pass rate, which jumped from 34 percent in 2009 to 53 percent in 2010, had not sufficiently improved.

“We are deeply disappointed, but not defeated,” said La Verne Law Dean Allen Easley. “Once we receive the council’s formal announcement, we will review the findings and take action accordingly. It remains our ultimate mission to provide the very best law school education and experience possible to our students.”

Law school officials plan this week to seek an expedited timeline to regain provisional approval from the ABA, and will proceed immediately with the steps necessary to gain California Bar approval.

La Verne Law was the only ABA-approved law school (provisional or otherwise) in inland Southern California, having received provisional approval from the association in February, 2006.

“The University will continue in its commitment to achieve ABA approval for the College of Law,” said University of La Verne President Steve Morgan, who retires this month.  “It is our belief that our region needs an ABA-accredited school to best serve the long-term needs of the Inland Valley region. It is our desire that the University of La Verne College of Law will be that school. Our resolve is as strong as ever and we will focus on the ABA concerns and move forward with our quest. President-Select Devorah Lieberman shares that commitment and I know she will carry forth these efforts with the same level of passion and determination.”

Lieberman, who assumes the leadership role of the University of La Verne on July 1, shared Morgan’s resolve.

“The College of Law’s mandate to provide our students with the highest quality legal education aligned with the mission of the University of La Verne is laudable, and we will continue in that pursuit,” Lieberman said. “I look forward to maintaining our strong commitment to these goals and helping to design strategic initiatives that result in full American Bar Association approval.”

The ABA announcement comes at a time when the region remains significantly underrepresented by legal professionals compared to neighboring metropolitan areas. Currently, inland Southern California’s attorney-to-resident ratio is one for every 840 people, compared to Los Angeles County at one to every 217; Orange County at one to every 223; and San Diego County at one to every 232. San Bernardino and Riverside county courts continue to report a severe shortage of judicial officers to serve the region’s growing population.

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