United States of America

11 June 2020

Proposal of the Council of the ABA to change its rules in order to allow more flexibility for fall academic year in law schools

As announced on the website of the American Bar Association on June 1st, 2020, the section´s council, which serves as an independent arm of the ABA, is moving to expand flexibility regarding the decision in which form the nation´s 200 ABA-approved law schools will be able to offer classes in fall, in face of the challenges the COVID-19 pandemic poses for the planning of the upcoming academic year. The council is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the sole national accreditor of approximately 200 law schools.

In the early phase of the coronavirus pandemic, the council gave law schools the opportunity to enhance the credit limits for distance learning, in case they continued to meet the other standards. As a result, the majority of law schools approved by the ABA moved their remaining coursework online. 

At the moment, the rules of the council permit that up to one-third of a student´s credits are taught online, unless a variance is given. The recent proposal, in response to the coronavirus crisis, will be considered for approval by the ABA House of Delegates in a virtual meeting on August 3rd and 4th, and would allow the council to provide law schools more timely relief in case this is necessary, including a continued expansion of online classes. 

In a recommendation published in May, the council´s Standards Review Subcommittee stated that “The proposed change is necessary because we are unsure of what the fall semester will bring with the COVID-19 pandemic, or what the (U.S.) Department of Education will permit accreditors to do to meet the continued emergency.”

For further information on this topic, please visit the website of the ABA

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