LMU's Duncan School of Law Does Not Meet Admissions Standard

Lincoln Memorial University John J. Duncan School of Law was found by the American Bar Association to be significantly out of compliance with an accreditation standard that requires law schools to only admit candidates who appear capable of finishing law school and passing the bar exam.  

The ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar posted the noncompliance letter on April 5, after determining that the Lincoln Memorial was not in compliance with Standards 501(a) and (b), which state that law schools should maintain sound admissions policies and practices and not admit candidates who are unlikely to finish law school or pass a bar exam.

Several law schools have recently run afoul of Standards 501(a) and (b). But most have struggled with bar exam performance. Lincoln Memorial's struggle appears to be its attrition rate. 

“Although our bar pass rates in prior years have met and exceeded the ABA standard, it is true that our attrition, which by the recent interpretation also includes students on a leave of absence, has been a source of concern," wrote Gary Wade, the dean of Lincoln Memorial, in an email to the ABA journal. "After the first semester this year, however, attrition, at 8 percent, would meet the standard. I do not anticipate there to be any substantial increase in that number in May.” 

According to Lincoln Memorial’s Standard 509 Report for 2017, the first year class non-transfer attrition rate was 22.2 percent. The incoming class had a median LSAT score of 148 and a median undergraduate GPA of 3.08. 

The issue of attrition is new, and was born out of the U.S. Department of Education's efforts to make sure that those who take out student loans have the ability to get a degree to pay back those loans. 

Lincoln Memorial recently adopted a new policy that will refund tuition to students who become academically ineligible to continue their studies after the first semester if their LSAT scores or undergraduate GPAs fall within the 25th percentile of the entering class. 

“Although it is impossible to always predict student success based upon entering credentials, this, I believe, addresses the justified goal of the Department of Education and the ABA to encourage schools only to admit those most qualified to meet the criteria for admission to the practice of law,” Wade wrote.

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