As law schools across the country compete for a dwindling stream of applicants, the standards for the schools are shifting as well
The accrediting arm of the American Bar Association, which sets standards for almost every law school in the nation, is expected to approve sweeping changes this week, including a new focus on outcomes. Law schools, accustomed to proving their worth by showing what goes into their program – money, prestige and faculty, for example – will now have to prove students are actually learning something, likely by adding more in-depth testing and assessments.
This fall, Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law will be one of the first schools in the nation put to the test under the new standards. Accredited schools are reviewed every seven years.
“There’s been nothing like this at law schools before,” said Dannye Holley, dean of the law school, calling the focus on outcomes “a relative revolution for law schools.”
The changing standards are in part a response to the growing pressures on all of higher education, which has been challenged to prove that the growing cost of a college degree is actually worth it. Universities have also become more open to new teaching models, such as online education.
(Next page: Details about the new standards)