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UMass Law awarded provisional ABA accreditation

June 11, 2012

The American Bar Association notified UMass Law today that it has been granted provisional national accreditation. In a letter to the University, the ABA's Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar stated: "The School has established that it is in substantial compliance with each of the Standards and has a reliable plan for bringing itself into full compliance with the Standards within three years after receiving provisional approval."

The Section of Legal Education may be contacted at 321 North Clark Street, Chicago, IL 60610, by fax to (312) 988-5681, by phone at (312) 988-6738, or by email.

"The School has established that it is in substantial compliance with each of the Standards and has a reliable plan for bringing itself into full compliance with the Standards within three years after receiving provisional approval."

Individuals who graduate from provisionally approved schools are considered by the ABA to be students attending an ABA-approved law school. Every U.S. state has determined that graduates of ABA-approved law schools are eligible to sit for the bar exam in their state.

A great day for the Commonwealth

"Today is a great day for UMass, the South Coast region and for our Commonwealth as a whole," said Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick. "The accreditation of UMass Law marks a milestone in our efforts to expand access to high-quality and affordable education. I am proud of the hard work and dedication of UMass leadership, faculty and students and I look forward to our continued collaboration as we grow our world-class public education system here in Massachusetts."

"ABA accreditation is the gold seal of approval for law schools, and I am so proud of our students, faculty, and staff for establishing a legal education program that meets the ABA's high standards," said UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Jean F. MacCormack. "Even as we celebrate, however, our aspirations for UMass Law are boundless. Our journey to make UMass Law a national example of high quality, accessible, diverse, and public service-driven legal education is just beginning.''

Major milestone

"This is a major milestone for the UMass Law, UMass Dartmouth, and the entire UMass system," said University of Massachusetts President Robert L. Caret. "UMass Law is well on its way to becoming another jewel in the crown of our world class university."

University of Massachusetts Board of Trustees Chairman James Karam, a UMass Dartmouth alumnus, said, "On behalf of the entire University Board of Trustees, I am extremely proud of this result and the confidence the ABA has expressed in our Public Law School. This is a program many of us across the system had fought for in order to create a quality, nationally accredited and affordable public law school for this Commonwealth."

The accreditation announcement comes just days after City University of New York Associate Dean and Professor Mary Lu Bilek was named Dean of UMass Law. "The progress that the UMass School of Law has made in such a short time is truly remarkable,'' said Professor Bilek, who has served on several ABA committees and played a role in CUNY Law receiving full ABA accreditation. "I want to thank the ABA's Accreditation Committee and Council for their diligence and dedication to quality. We look forward to using what we have learned during this process to build UMass Law into one of the nation's premier law schools in the years ahead."

"I want to especially thank the staff and faculty of the law school for the knowledge and energy they have committed to this accreditation process while also performing their regular duties as legal educators and scholars," said Interim Dean Michael Hillinger.

Provisional approval indicates that a law school is in substantial compliance with ABA standards and is given three years to move into full compliance. All law schools receiving full ABA accreditation must first secure the provisional accreditation.

UMass Law will now immediately begin the process of obtaining full ABA accreditation in three years by studying and responding to the feedback provided during the provisional accreditation process.

UMass Law was created in 2010, establishing the first public law school in Massachusetts. UMass Law, one of eight colleges and schools at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, currently has 325 students. Like UMass Dartmouth, the law school is dedicated to engaging its students in the life of the community, and its students provided more than 5,500 hours of legal services to the region last semester.

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