Victim of Partisan Persecution--Not:

Regular readers of this blog know that the ABA Council of the Section of Legal Education, which is responsible for establishing accreditation standards for American law schools, has been under attack on a variety of fronts. First, last Winter the Council pushed through hastily- and ill-considered "diversity" standards, that invited law schools to both violate the law and to admit students unlikely to succeed in law school and on the bar. Second, the American Law Deans Association, led primarily by deans of the more "academic" law schools, has criticized the ABA's micromanaging of law schools, such as its insistence that librarians, clinical faculty, and legal writing faculty receive tenure or job security akin to tenure. Finally, legal education innovators such as the Massachusetts School of Law accuse the Council of using accreditation standards to prevent upstarts from finding ways to lower the cost of legal education, at the expense of bloated law school bureaucracy and underworked professors.

However, judging by a story in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the Council may be dismissing much of this criticism as simply "payback" for the ABA's stands against Bush Administration policy.

William R. Rakes, chairman of the accrediting council, told the Education Department panel that he was now suffering for many of the public stands that the bar association has taken in opposition to the Bush administration.

"I am aware there have been disagreements with the administration over judicial appointments and certain administration policies," said Mr. Rakes, a lawyer in Roanoke, Va. He pointed out, however, that the bar has no oversight of his council, "and we have no input into the public positions they take."

Mr. Rakes has made a lot of impressive noises about improving the accreditation process, and indeed potentially reconceiving it from scratch. I therefore sincerely hope this statement, which was obviously taken out of a much longer series of remarks, does not reflect his general attitude toward the criticism the Council has received.

Because I've written on the subject, I've heard many complaints about the ABA's accreditation standards from deans, professors, and others, and I've never heard any of the critics relating their position in any way to the ABA's political stances on separate, unrelated matters outside the Council's purview. Playing the political martyr card, if that's what Rakes indeed did, may or may not be good political strategy, but it certainly won't clean up the mess the Council on Legal Education has made of the accreditation process.

Bpbatista (mail):
Reason #567,565,234 why I will never, ever -- not even upon pain of death -- join the ABA.
12.11.2006 8:29pm
Bpbatista (mail):
Reason #567,565,234 why I will never, ever — not even upon pain of death — join the ABA.
12.11.2006 8:29pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I had let my student membership lapse after the judge issues this summer, but now I find out I have to be a member to compete in my moot court competition this spring.

I guess my principles will be taking a backseat to academics...
12.11.2006 8:42pm
Reminds me of why I refused to join the teacher's union... even when I taught at a public school and was forced to pay its dues, membership or not.
12.11.2006 8:46pm
Drive By Comments:
I joined a few years ago because that $20 student membership bought me a $500 discount on bar review. I haven't paid since.

I am, apparently, still a member, and continue to receive their magazine each month, and their book-peddling spam every day.
12.11.2006 8:54pm
Skip Oliva (mail) (www):
It's worth noting that the Justice Department's original antitrust case against the ABA's accreditation practices was filed during the Clinton administration.
12.11.2006 9:02pm
RMCACE (mail):
Yeah, thats why the Deans of law schools are attacking you, because you are too liberal, opposing the Bush Administration. Because law school deans are notorious conservatives and fans of the Bush Administration. (Heavy Sarcasm here, along with Heavy reliance on the law schools stance in FAIR v. Rumsfeld case).
12.11.2006 10:48pm
godfodder (mail):
In some circles, Bush is well on his way to being an all-purpose boogeyman. Sort of reminds me of the status that Nixon had in the 70's, and Reagan had in the 80's. "The nexus of evil in the world" type thing. Or, "Evil Empire: population 1."
12.11.2006 11:52pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
Given how many law school deans blindly support the Bush Administration, and regard Rush Limabaugh as the fountainhead of all wisdom, I can understand why they think the martyrdom card is the one to play.
12.12.2006 12:04am
I keep not paying ABA dues and they keep telling me that I'm a member and sending me their crappy magazine. I feel like I have somehow won a life membership into a club that I have no desire to be in.

/why can't Guns and Ammo send me free magazines? Or at least Game Informer.
12.12.2006 12:44am
It's just a verbal tic for people like Rakes to blame everything on Bush, not a considered strategy (albeit a verbal tic that reveals a worldview). It's kind of like how most academics say "rich white guys" when they just mean "rich people"--it shows that they're hip, not racist, etc.
12.12.2006 9:08am
professays (mail):
All law schools should be closed down and the profession of lawyer should be banned as amoral.
12.12.2006 10:02am

I guess my principles will be taking a backseat . . .

A promising career in corporate law awaits you . . .
12.12.2006 12:59pm
molonlabe28 (mail):
I witnessed an interesting debate on this very issue at the Federalist Society annual conference several weeks ago.

I dropped out of the ABA back in 1992 when it had Hillary introduce Anita Hill as the Keynote speaker and when it adopted a pro- Roe V. Wade position statement.

I have no use for the organization, and I wish that law schools would start exiting its credentialling monopoly.

The ABA is against most things I am for and for most things I am against.

It is useless, except as a de facto PAC of the democratic party.
12.12.2006 1:26pm
Lysander (mail) (www):
Rather than take on the ABA directly, the licensing requirements of the various State Bars should have their admission standards revised to not include the statement about having a "law degree from an ABA-accredited institution." That change alone should break the ABA's relevance when it comes to law schools.
12.12.2006 2:09pm