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If you didn't know about the problems at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, you might think that California accreditation was a good thing.
And it is. But there's at least one reason the new accreditation is not so good. It means the law school is concerned it may soon lose its accreditation from the American Bar Association.
Administrators went for state accreditation just in case the ABA pulls the plug. It's like the little Dutch boy who put his finger in the dike -- everybody is hoping it holds.
The ABA put the law school on probation in 2017. The Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar found the school fell below standards related to financial resources, admissions, academics and bar pass rates.
The problems were significant, requiring "immediate and substantial action" to put the law school on a "realistic path" to compliance. With the handwriting on the wall, law school officials decided to take a different path.
California accreditation typically takes three years, but Thomas Jefferson "asked for a waiver of the usual requirements." After all, the law school has been accredited by the ABA since 1996.
"Staff reviewed the school's self-study, which suggests that TJSOL would be in substantial compliance with the more flexible rules and guidelines for California-accredited law schools," the California Committee of Bar Examiners said in an open session.
The committee voted 8-7, with one abstention, to approve state accreditation for the law school.
It was a close one, especially for the 521 students attending the San Diego-based law school. State accreditation means that graduates will be qualified to sit for the California bar exam. That's the good news.
The bad news is that TJSOL's first-time bar pass rate last year was 29.17 percent. It costs students about $49,500 a year for that education.
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