As I noted over at Leiter, the University of La Verne School of Law has run into rough waters with the ABA. The law school, provisionally accredited in 2006, sought full accreditation last year. Despite a positive vote from the ABA's accreditation committee last year, the full Council deferred consideration for a year (in light of La Verne's law bar pass rate in California.) This year, the acceditation committee is recommending that the Council deny the school's request for full accreditation.
For those who want a bit more granular detail, La Verne's first time takers passed the July 2009 CA bar at a 34% rate. They pumped that number up to 53% for the July 2010 sitting. At the same time, they managed to push through a good number of those who failed in July 2009 so that their overall pass rate for the 2009 gang is now 73%. First time takers who are graduates of ABA schools located in California typically pass at a tad over 70% rate. (Out of staters do worse.)
At this point, La Verne is hoping that the Council - seeing this improvement - will either override the committee and grant full accreditation or, at minimum, extend provisional accreditation. (If they do neither, I expect that La Verne may reapply for provisional accreditation.)
One factor that makes the issue a bit more complex is that the Council's decision takes the ABA right back into some controversial waters involving diversity and bar passage targets. Compared to most law schools, La Verne has maintained high levels of student diversity. The 2010 ABA official guide shows that 31.4% of recent La Verne grads were members of minority groups. And commenters have expressed concern that stricter ABA bar passage guidelines might deter schools from enrolling large numbers of non-traditional and minority students. What I don't know - but others presumably do - is the degree to which La Verne's bar passage outcomes are related to its efforts to recruit a more diverse class. It's hard to imagine that this won't be a consequential issue for the Council.
La Verne students no doubt wonder how this affects them. Here there is good news for the folks in the Inland Empire. ABA accreditation rules protect all students who attended La Verne during any period of provisional accreditation:
ABA Standard 102, Interpretation 102-10
An individual who matriculates at a law school that is provisionally approved or who is a student enrolled in a law school at the time it receives provisional approval and who completes the course of study and graduates from that school within a typical and reasonable period of time is deemed by the Council to be a graduate of an approved law school, even though the school loses its provisional approval status while the individual is enrolled in the school.
Update: It appears that a number of states choose not to recognize Interpretation 102-10 and decline to treat a graduate of a school that was accredited at one point during the student's tenure (but no longer is at time of graduation) as a graduate of an ABA accredited law school.