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NBLSA Statement on the Proposed ABA Law School Accreditation Standard Change

For Immediate Release
February 4, 2014

Washington, D.C. - The American Bar Association (ABA) Standards Review Committee is slated to make a crucial vote this weekend on February 7, 2014 at its Mid-Year Meeting in Chicago, IL. The Standards Review Committee ("SRC") on Legal Education is set to vote on a proposed law school accreditation standard, which would require all law schools to have an annual 75-80 percent annual bar passage rate among graduates in order for law schools to maintain ABA accreditation. Passage of such a drastic measure will significantly impact the number of students that are admitted into law school, as schools give great deference to the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) in admitting students. This proposed change, if passed, will directly impact law schools that admit larger numbers of African- American, Hispanic, and Asian students.

The current accreditation standard requires that law schools have a 75 percent bar passage rate of graduates in three out of the past five years in order to maintain accreditation. This current standard was adopted in 2008. NBLSA, along with the National Bar Association, and other networks are concerned about the ABA proposing such drastic standards without obtaining more information about national average bar passage rates. As current law students and future lawyers, we urge the ABA to further investigate and conduct studies on the disparate impact this standard will have on the legal community, if passed.

Passage of this standard will limit access to legal education to countless numbers of qualified students who have the potential to succeed in law school, and ultimately in the profession, but may be hindered because of standardized test scores. This measure will force law schools to turn away thousands of applicants, who are likely qualified and have a strong chance to succeed, because of the demands such a standard will place on law schools to be numbers driven based on standardized tests. The National Black Law Students Association, in addition to the Society of American Law Teachers, Clinical Legal Education Association, ABA Council of Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline, National Bar Association, Hispanic National Bar Association, National Asian Pacific American Bar Association, National Native American Bar Association, and the Congressional Black, Hispanic, Asian Pacific, and Progressive Caucuses oppose this standard.

The National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA) opposes this proposed standard, and we respectfully ask the American Bar Association not to vote on such a measure that will impact our current and future members. We ask that the ABA work to pass a measure that will promote diversity in the legal profession, and work to ensure higher bar passage rates without placing a mandate on law schools to be solely numbers driven.

The Bar Passage vote is scheduled for Friday, February 7, 2014 from 2:45p.m. until 5p.m. at the Conrad Hotel, 521 North Rush Street, Chicago, IL 60611, on the 11th floor in the Conrad Ballroom.

The National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA) is a 501(c)(3) corporation and the nation's largest student-run organization representing nearly 6,000 minority law students from over 200 chapters and affiliates throughout the United States and six other countries.

Contact: Nia Duggins, National Director of Social Action at


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