SHERWOOD ROSS ASSOCIATES
March 29, 2007
From: Sherwood Ross
On June 27, 1995, the Justice Department filed a complaint charging the American Bar Association with fixing law professors’ salaries and other Sherman Anti-Trust violations. Justice found ABA had furthered “the self-interest of professors instead of improving education” and ABA signed a consent degree pledging to stop the violations but has not lived up to that pledge.
Now, Dean Lawrence Velvel of the Massachusetts School of Law, Andover, is asking two leading members of the Department of Education’s National Advisory Committee to get ABA to reform or to lose DOE recognition.
Dean Velvel is a leader in the effort to make a legal education accessible to Americans of all races and income groups. “National Jurist” magazine describes him as “a modern day crusader” and “one of the most influential people in legal education over the last 15 years.”
News release follows. Dean Velvel may be reached at (978) 681-0800.
Ross Associates, Media Consultants to Massachusetts School of Law
102 S.W. 6th Avenue, Suite 403, Miami, FL 33130 (305) 205-8281
Law School Dean Calls For ABA To Lose DOE Recognition
As An Accreditor, And Says DOE Staff Is Incompetent
Two influential academic experts have been called upon to require the American Bar Association to either change its law school accreditation system or lose federal recognition from the Department of Education (DOE). The call came from Lawrence Velvel, the Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law. It was addressed to Lawrence DeNardis, the former President of the University of New Haven , and George Pruitt, the President of Edison State College in Trenton, New Jersey .
DeNardis and Pruitt are leading members of the DOE’s powerful National Advisory Committee (NAC). That Committee makes recommendations to the Secretary of Education on whether an accrediting body should retain or lose federal recognition.
At an NAC hearing on December 3, 2006, DeNardis and Pruitt both made extensive comments criticizing the ABA for long failing to follow the law. DeNardis, who led the NAC’s discussion of the ABA, said he could not understand why a body “that prepares practitioners of the law, has such a difficult time complying with government regulations and policies.”
Pruitt, who has been criticizing the ABA without result at NAC hearings since 1996, said “I want to echo the comments that Larry DeNardis made about the frustration that we have on this committee” regarding the ABA’s longstanding failure to follow legal rules “that the rest of us have to live with.” This failure to follow the rules is by a group that has a “powerful monopoly to totally control within [the legal] profession.” (An exercise of this monopoly power led, eleven years ago, to the ABA being found in violation of the federal antitrust laws.)
The unhappiness of the NAC with the American Bar Association’s longstanding failure to follow the law caused the Committee to recommend to the Secretary only an 18 month, interim renewal of recognition of the ABA, rather than the usual five year recognition.
Making plain that he considers the DOE’s permanent staff to be incompetent, Velvel said that for years the staff has ineptly failed to question the ABA’s high cost “input” rules -- rules no longer followed by any other accrediting body than the ABA. (Numerous other accreditors of professional schools, which do not use the “input” rules used by the ABA , are listed below.) The ABA’s input rules have been a major factor in law school tuitions jumping by 267 percent since 1990, so that half of the nation’s 190 ABA schools now charge more than $25,000 per year in tuition, with almost one quarter, or 46, charging over $30,000 per year. High tuitions have priced working class whites and minorities out of law school and the legal profession.
The use of costly input rules that have this exclusionary effect is directly contrary to Congress’ desire that accrediting bodies instead use “output” rules that measure student learning, and that higher education be made available to African Americans, Hispanic Americans and other minorities, says Velvel.
The ABA’s input rules, Velvel told DeNardis and Pruitt, demand very large, extremely expensive full time faculties, minimize the allowable number of far less expensive adjunct faculty members who are expert lawyers and judges, require very low teaching loads for full professors, require plush physical facilities, demand large, very expensive hard copy libraries though most needed materials are available on-line, and require high scores on the Law School Admissions Test (the LSAT). Curiously, the ABA also has a rule saying that law schools need not provide students with courses that will teach them the practical skills they will need to practice law. Velvel said that not only does no other professional school accrediting body use the expensive input rules used by the ABA, but some of them, again unlike the ABA, do quite properly require that students be taught the practical skills they will need to practice their profession.
Velvel also assailed the DOE staff for incompetently failing to uncover that the ABA uses secret rules that make its written rules even worse. This failure has existed for years even though DOE was warned of unlawful secret rules as long ago as 1996. Recently, by pure accident, the staff uncovered a secret policy about bar passage rates. But there also are secret policies about student/faculty ratios, plush buildings, low hours of teaching, and high LSAT scores.
The ABA’s high cost rules, and the excessive tuitions they cause, have contributed to a declining number of minority persons in law school, as has the secret requirement of high LSAT scores. The latest available figures show that, due to declines, only 6.6% of law school students are African Americans and only 5.7% are Hispanic Americans. As well the latest figures show that only 3.9% of the legal profession as a whole is African American, and only 3.3% is Hispanic American.
Velvel told DeNardis and Pruitt that the ABA is able to monopolize law school accreditation because it has persuaded most state supreme courts to allow only graduates of ABA schools to take bar examinations. The courts do this even though the ABA’s rules are keeping African Americans and Hispanic Americans out of law school and even though an increasing number of state Justices are themselves of African American or Hispanic American. The state Justices, almost all of whom know little or nothing about the ABA’s accreditation rules, rely heavily on the fact that DOE recognizes the ABA as the accreditor for law schools.
Velvel said that, in view of the ABA’s long failure to follow the law, and the enormous social harm being done by accreditation rules that keep all but the upper middle class and the wealthy out of law schools, the DOE should withdraw its recognition of the ABA, which it would have to do if the staff inquired thoroughly into the facts of ABA accreditation. Velvel urged DeNardis and Pruitt to insist on competent, thorough staff work instead of the miscreant negligence that for at least 15 years has marked the staff’s efforts toward the ABA .
Listed below are some of the professional school accrediting bodies that do not use the type of input rules used by the ABA. Also, if you would like a copy of Dean Velvel’s letter to Messrs. DeNardis and Pruitt, please contact Lawrence Velvel at (978) 681-0800 or Velvel@mslaw.edu.
Professional School Accrediting Bodies
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing/Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education; The Council on Chiropractic Education; The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education; The American Psychological Association - Committee on Accreditation for Doctoral, Internship & Post-Doctoral Residencies; The Commission on Dental Accreditation of the American Dental Association; The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education - Standards for Professional Development Schools; The Council on Education/American Veterinary Medical Association; The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools - Business Schools; The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations; The American Association of Colleges of Nursing/Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education; The Council on Chiropractic Education; The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education; The Council on Education/American Veterinary Medical Association; The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools - Business Schools; and The American Psychological Association – Committee on Accreditation for Doctoral, Internship & Post-Doctoral Residencies.