Jacksonville University College of Law achieves American Bar Association accreditation milestone

March 04, 2024

A defining moment in the pursuit of excellence for shaping future leaders of law, the Jacksonville University College of Law has been granted provisional accreditation by the American Bar Association (ABA). Achieving this major milestone means the law school now possesses “all the rights of a fully approved ABA law school,” and its students are eligible to take the Bar examination, become members of the Bar, and qualify for jobs and clerkships only open to students graduating from ABA accredited schools.

“This is the vision of Jacksonville University, its faculty, staff, and leadership – to build a great law school with great students, who become great lawyers who go on to serve their communities with ethical professionalism and the highest ideals of a noble profession,” said Jacksonville University President Tim Cost. “Our University has applied for, and received accreditation in numerous programs in disciplines across our institution, and we are proud to add law to our long list of accredited programs.”

For any law school, accreditation is the hallmark of quality and high standards for legal education and admission to the Bar. A minimum of two years after a law school receives its initial ABA accreditation, it can apply for an affirmation of its accreditation. From then on, the school will undergo additional site visits and must demonstrate it is maintaining the standards it displayed during the initial accreditation application process to keep its accreditation.

“The deliberate speed with which the College of Law has been able to achieve accreditation must be credited to the years of careful planning and preparation to open a law school by this university, led by President Cost and the Board of Trustees, and guided by talented administrators, faculty, staff, with the encouragement and support of the bench, bar, city, and people of the greater Jacksonville community,” said Randall C. Berg Jr. Founding Dean of the College of Law, Nick Allard. “Attaining ABA accreditation is a justifiably rigorous and demanding process, and for that reason, I am enormously proud that the law school faculty, staff, and students made accreditation a priority amongst all their other responsibilities.”

The College of Law applied for provisional accreditation at the earliest possible point, in March 2023, exactly one year after its Board of Trustees voted unanimously to launch the school. This meticulous process required the College of Law to submit nearly 500 hundred pages of materials to the ABA accreditation council and staff, including a feasibility study, comprehensive self-study, and responses to nearly 100 questions from accreditors. In October 2023, a team of faculty and administrators from law schools across the country, appointed by the ABA, conducted a three-day site evaluation, touring the college, observing classes, and interviewing law school administrators, faculty, staff, and students.

Then, after responding to the site visit team’s written report, College of Law senior administrators, President Tim Cost, Board Chair Matt Kane and senior university leaders met with the 21-person ABA Accreditation Committee in New Orleans. The committee voted to award accreditation provisionally to the school.

“Receiving provisional accreditation is hugely important for everyone at the College of Law, because it not only represents the high quality institution we’ve built so far, but it also bodes well for the future,” said Vice Dean of the College of Law, Margaret Dees. “Our goal has been, and will continue to be, to provide the highest quality legal education possible. The accreditation from the ABA proves that is true, and that we are here to stay. We’re committed to our students and our community to maintaining those standards for decades to come.”

The Jacksonville University College of Law launched with its inaugural class in August 2022 and a second class in August 2023. The accreditation is particularly meaningful for the first two classes.

“We felt a heavy responsibility to pursue and attain accreditation before our inaugural students graduated,” Allard said. “And we met that ambitious goal.”

“These students seized all the opportunities of a new law school. They were aware of the challenges, but they recognized the benefits and dove enthusiastically into a partnership with the Dean, faculty, staff, and university to build something truly special,” said College of Law Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Courtney Barclay. “Earning accreditation is their achievement as much as anyone’s.”

The law school’s third entering class will begin their studies this August, as the College of Law moves to its permanent location at 121 W. Forsyth St. in the heart of downtown Jacksonville.

The College of Law signed a long-term lease on the 50,000-square-foot-space earlier this year, and renovations are underway and on schedule for a summer move in. The space will accommodate the growth of the law school and provide the opportunity to expand as it continues to welcome additional classes and hire more faculty and staff.

Applications are open for the Fall 2024 semester. Find more information at ju.edu/law.

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