Law School Discussion

Nine Years of Discussion
;

Author Topic: Please explain a non-ABA school status  (Read 6398 times)

Marnet

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 18
    • View Profile
Please explain a non-ABA school status
« on: February 11, 2004, 08:56:45 AM »
Can someone share the real difference between an ABA and non-ABA approved law school. I know what ABA approved/non-approved means but what advantages then would one have by going to a non-approved school and how would this effect their later status and career?  Does this mean they cannot apply for the state Bars? Can someone start at a non-ABA school and then transfer to one that is ABA approved? 

prelaw_undergrad

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 49
    • View Profile
Re: Please explain a non-ABA school status
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2004, 09:43:21 AM »
I'm not sure about transferring, but I think that you cannot take a state bar if you haven't graduated from an ABA approved school. 

The only "advantages" to attending a non-ABA approved school, that I know of, are location and admission.  If you do not live near an ABA approved law school and cannot move, than that is an "advantage" to attending a local, non-ABA approved school.  Also, if you cannot get admission to an ABA approved school and do not want to wait a year or so to improve, than attending a non-ABA school that will accept you is another "advantage."

As far as the effect on your "later status and career," attending a non-ABA approved school could mean having no career as an attorney.  Some law firms may let you be a legal secretary or a legal file clerk, but most firms ONLY want attorneys who can take/pass the bar.  If you cannot, than your law degree from a non-ABA approved law school could be a complete waste.

-----

I'm not too sure on the stuff I said above, so I recommend asking a college counselor, or reading a book like JD Jungle.

freshstart

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 52
  • LSAT: 156, UGPA: 4.0
    • View Profile
Re: Please explain a non-ABA school status
« Reply #2 on: February 12, 2004, 03:02:48 PM »
Like the last poster, I don't know much about transfers, but the biggest difference to you between the ABA and non-ABA schools is that graduating from an ABA school allows you to sit for the bar in any state.  If you graduate from a non-ABA school, you usually can only take the bar in the state that the school is in.  In a few cases, you can take some other states' bars, but not without some large hoops (i.e. taking a test to qualify to take the bar).

I would also advise you to do some more reading on this.

David Bakody

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 31
  • LSAT 151 GPA 3.53
    • View Profile
Re: Please explain a non-ABA school status
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2004, 03:50:44 PM »
A non-ABA school should be a last resort - that thing that you do when all else fails and you are determined to practice law no matter what.

Certain states will recognize non-ABA graduates from other states non-ABA schools, but overall graduating from a non-ABA school will limit your career.  One exception to this might be if you are going to practice law exclusively in the state you graduate from.  A fair number of lawyers come out of Mass School of Law and also Southeastern Law in Mass and do fine.  It really all depends though on what you want to do long-term and your location.

California has LOTS of non-ABA schools, some of which are actually pretty good (La Verne being one example).  Massachusetts also has a couple of fairly respectable non-ABA schools that will let you sit for the bar in that state as well as a few others.

A non-ABA school can limit you, but it need not eliminate you completely from your dreams.  It just makes things a lot tougher.
 

Marnet

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 18
    • View Profile
Re: Please explain a non-ABA school status
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2004, 09:15:55 AM »
Thanks, everyone! If you get into a non-ABA school, can you transfer to an ABA approved school down the line -- or are ABA schools only reciprocal within that approval status?

David Bakody

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 31
  • LSAT 151 GPA 3.53
    • View Profile
Re: Please explain a non-ABA school status
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2004, 01:17:02 PM »
Marnet - sorry for the long post - it's a hot button with me.

A good case to get some perspective on ABA vs non-ABA is to read the case of Mass School of Law vs American Bar Association, et el.  After reading that case I learned a non-ABA student will not only be unable to transfer into an ABA school, but from my understanding the ABA rules (at least as of the early to mid 1990's when the case was taking place) students that have even *attended* non-ABA schools are prohibited from being ADMITTED to an ABA school.  Ouch.

I mention the above case only because that is where I first learned (reading a footnote) that non-ABA students used to be  *punished* for going to any school other than a blessed and likewise expensive ABA accredited school.  Hence, the whole anti-trust aspect of the ligitation that arose during the Clinton administration that put the ABA under pressure to make some changes.  Mind you, the ABA is currently on probition with the DOJ for anti-trust law violations, so some of the aforementioned ABA rules might have changed.

Regardless of where the ABA stands today on non-ABA students, I am not aware of any ABA schools that will allow a student from a non-ABA school to transfer into their programs.  Most non-ABA schools won't even accept transfers from anywhere other than students previously attending an ABA program!  Why?  Because many of these non-ABA schools are in the process of obtaining ABA status are following ABA rules (no non-ABA transfer students allowed).

La Verne is a good example.  It stands a good chance of becoming an ABA school later this year.  For all practical purposes, it acts like an ABA school, even though it isn't.  If you look at their forms, web site, etc, you'd think it was another expensive ABA school.

If you go to a non-ABA school and graduate, I don't know of any cases where you would be unable to sit for the bar exam *within* the state of the non-ABA state-accredited school you attended.  You will also be able to sit for the bar in several other states as well - about 20 in all I believe - AFTER you have passed the bar in at least one other state (typically in the state of the non-ABA school you graduated from).

Graduating from a non-ABA school and passing the bar in at least one state will enable you to gain admission to practice law at the federal level as well.  In other words, you could go to Mass. School of Law in Andover (as an example), graduate, sit for the bar in Mass and then go on to practice bankruptcy law (federal-level of practice) in Arizona.  However, you would NOT be able to appear in an Arizona court except *maybe* as pro hac vice and even that is somewhat iffy.  You could also (unless something changed) sit for the Patent Bar and practice before the USPTO. 

What you would NOT be able to do is be admitted to the bar on motion in most states, nor would you be able to sit for the bar in about 25+ states - ever.  Some students from non-ABA schools are starting to sue to gain permission to sit for the bar in those states.  I've contemplated this course for myself (going to Mass School of Law and then returning to Arizona and suing to take the bar).  I'm kind of an a**hole as a person, so this tactic and line of thought comes naturally for me.  It might for you too.

A non-ABA education can be a limitation, but it is not a 100% barrier.  I want to STRONGLY encourage you to seek out a non-ABA school that will meet your needs if it turns out, and ONLY if it turns out, that an ABA school is simply not an option due to low LSAT or GPA history.  Frankly - a low GPA can be made up for easily with a high LSAT.  Schools are not really interested in how you performed over 4+ years in your undergrad degree, what matters is how you do on a 4 hour exam.  Sad, but this is the truth.  The weight is often 75/25 for LSAT/GPA with essay, LOR's, etc, being the thing that chooses one LSAT 165 person over another.  A 4.0 GPA and 139 LSAT won't take you nearly as far as 2.3 GPA and 160 LSAT.

Did you do poorly on the LSAT?  How bad is bad?  My December LSAT was 151 and that's not going to take me very far (GPA from Jesuit college 3.53).  What are your stats?  Are they low?  Do you not want to take the LSAT over?  If this is the case - I suggest three schools to consider applying:

La Verne in California.
Mass. School of Law in Andover Mass. (high bar pass rates)
Southern New England School of Law in Mass.

Where are you located?  Are you willing to relocate?

Cheers.

As a bitching side note:

Most of the Founding Fathers were either self-taught or apprenticed law, and I would throw Abe Lincoln into that mix as well (studied for the bar alone).  Thurgood Marshall didn't take the LSAT as it didn't exist and Howard University did not have ABA status until after Marshall graduated.  Likewise, about 50% of all lawyers before 1948 had earned their degrees via correspondance OR they took classes taught by other lawyers and judges to read for the bar exam.  It's only in the last 50 years that the ABA gained incredible monopoly powers and solidifed law as something of a protected (and expensive) guild.  I don't think the quality of lawyers today is anything to get excited about thanks to the ABA "quality" control measures. I'd take Madison or Lincoln any day over Johnny Cochran.

Marnet

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 18
    • View Profile
Re: Please explain a non-ABA school status
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2004, 10:39:23 AM »
David...thanks so much for your response...I learn alot from you on these boards...and really appreciate your time and support.

As far as my stats...undergrad Ivy is 2.95 (3.0+ and Dean's List prior to last semester) though this was many years ago. I have years of strong work experience and outstanding community service. Activist/Advocate--have very strong community leadership background-- have initiated human rights and environmental cases/spokesperson for self and community and won -- overall amazing bkgd. Applying to school PT where I did my undergrad work and do much service as an active Alumna; I am known there.Of all the local law schools, they have what I want. I have 6 rec letters going in and a ref from one of their dep't. heads.
I sat for the LSAT for 1st time this month/ Feb. I found it hard and do not know how I did, but suspect it was pretty low. I requested on app. that weight be given to my accomplishments/bkgd., not the numbers. My personal statement is outstanding (professional writer here, as well) -- worked very hard on it. Admissions went the LSAC within hours after they got my app. package, but score wasn't there yet...so we are all waiting.
At present, I cannot relocate but could consider it in a year or 2. If need be, yes, I could take the LSAT again...and just try a different study/prep approach next time. I am not a wiz at standardized tests--but can sure get eyes open wide in a court room and get winning results with human rights/public interest matters.
The real question I guess I have is: if an older candidate has a truly outstanding application package showing commitment with every indication they will do well in a program and in the field, would they be rejectd simply because of a low score on this test? This baffles me.
If Walt Disney faced the challenges he did from his childhood on...and didn't insist that he knew what he was doing... and persevere...darn, this world would have missed out on alot.
Thanks for your continued postings and interest -- I enjoy communicating with you here. OH-- by the way, I'm just outside of NYC, in NJ. If you'd like to exchange direct email addresses, let me know. 

David Bakody

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 31
  • LSAT 151 GPA 3.53
    • View Profile
Re: Please explain a non-ABA school status
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2004, 01:57:08 PM »
Marnet-The overwhelming number of applications hitting law schools right now are students getting out of college and going "Uh oh!  The economy is crap, I can't get a job, the future looks bleak, and I'm really unhappy about the injustice in this world - I want to go to law school..."  This trend has been pushing the median LSAT threshold up just about everywhere, making it harder for applicants that are scoring below the 155-160 level.  This happened circa 1990-1993 (bad economy) and tanked during the Clinton years (good economy).  Somehow, I don't think we're going to cycle down again anytime soon.

If you are in NY/NJ I suggest one of the schools you consider applying is Rutgers (Camden or Newark), even if your LSAT is low.  Odds are they're already "sold out", but if your story is compelling you might have a shot.  A good friend of mine went to to Rutgers and liked it a lot.  It's a very "activist" kind of law school, and since you mentioned this as part of your background, Rutgers might like you.

http://www.law.widener.edu/

Widener is a little easier to get into compared to some of the other east coast schools, plus they have a part-time program that seems to have a lower median LSAT level.  I applied to this school myself, but have yet to hear from them.

You might have performed far better on the LSAT than you think.  However, if you did really bad (below 140), study hard (consider taking courses from PowerScore) and re-take the exam OR jump into researching non-ABA options (like Mass School of Law or make plans to attend one of the California schools).

Sure - my email is plato -=at=- bakody dot ***net***






Marnet

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 18
    • View Profile
Re: Please explain a non-ABA school status
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2004, 05:01:09 PM »
Thanks, David...I sent you mail.

One question I failed to ask is...how low a score is really low...and what is a borderline score? Not that this will apply to me, but has anyone ever gotten into a school anywhere with something like a 135-140? I also wonder if there are any schools, even non-ABA, that do not look at or consider the test score at all...
or put that weight as the lowest consideration.

David Bakody

  • Full Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 31
  • LSAT 151 GPA 3.53
    • View Profile
Re: Please explain a non-ABA school status
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2004, 05:47:10 PM »
Yes.  People have been admitted to law school with a low LSAT.  I think just about anything under 150 these days is considered "low", and the 150 to 155 range is "marginal" and pushing into and over 160 is when schools consider you as being anything that could be defined as "good."

Yes.  There is one non-ABA school that does NOT use the LSAT.  They place a heavy emphasis on your LOR's, essay, life experience and academic history.  They also interview you.

http://www.mslaw.edu/

From what I've learned about them - one can get a very practical legal education, but it will come with all of the limitations associated with being a non-ABA school.  Note that I believe you can sit for the NY, Conn, Mass, DC and Vermont Bar upon graduation from MSLAW.  I believe their bar pass rate is in the 90% range, but that really needs to be double-checked.  You can also sit for the Wisconsin and California Bars as well.  As for the other states, your milage will vary.