Thurgood Marshall School of Law Makes Progress Toward Full ABA Standards Compliance

Posted on Wednesday, August 29, 2018

TSU News

HOUSTON (August 9, 2018) – The Accreditation Committee of the American Bar Association (ABA) has concluded that Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law is making progress toward full compliance of several ABA standards that were found to be in violation in 2015 and 2016. The committee further concluded that the law school has achieved complete remediation of one standard.

“We have demonstrated to the ABA Accreditation Committee that we have made the necessary progress and are continuing to make progress with regard to the standards that were in question,” said TSU President Dr. Austin A. Lane. “I would like to thank acting Dean Gary Bledsoe, Marcia Johnson, and Cassandra Hill, each of whom played critical roles in making these changes over the past year, as well as the faculty, staff and students within the law school.”

Dr. Lane also thanked the ABA for recognizing the progress that has been made, and that TSU plans to exceed their expectations over the next two years.

“This announcement is a validation of the steps we have taken to enhance academic rigor, along with the academic support we provide,” said TSU Provost Dr. Kendall Harris. “It gives our students the best opportunity to succeed in the law school, graduate, and become members of the legal profession. TSU is committed to academic rigor and the success of our students.”

Standards that were addressed as part of the proceedings included:

  • Standard 104, which provides for data integrity with information that is complete, accurate and submitted in a form, time and manner to the Council
  • Standard 205(b): provides for equality of opportunity for faculty and staff
  • Standard 301(a): provides for a rigorous program of legal education
  • Standard 309(b): provides for academic support
  • Standard 501 (b): provides for qualified applicants

The process included a remedial plan developed by the law school to address each of the standards.

“This has been an opportunity to improve our law school, and we’ve worked diligently to do so,” said Gary Bledsoe, acting dean of the law school. “This process fits with our strategic plan to make this great, historic law school even better, and to reflect the honor of the school’s namesake – Thurgood Marshall.”

The university’s plan includes a number of remedies to ensure gender equity for faculty and staff, including:

  • Collaboration with the TSU Title IX Coordinator;
  • Establishment of a Gender Equity Committee within the law school;
  • Faculty/staff training seminars regarding gender equity issues; and
  • Conducting an annual self-evaluation of its Title IX initiatives

In addressing the academic rigor standard, the law school has strengthened the first-year program of legal education, including new curriculum, and faculty collaboration to substantially revise and create new evaluation tools. Other initiatives involve efforts to increase student engagement.

Similarly, the law school has implemented an enhanced academic success program for its students, including practice exams, Saturday academies focused on essay writing, tutoring labs, a bar preparation course, and additional measures for identifying at-risk students.

In response to the standard related to qualified applicants, the law school has modified its recruiting practices, enhanced its branding efforts, and adjusted its admission index in collaboration with a streamlined interview process for prospective students. A six-week summer program designed to assist admitted students with predicted low indices is now mandatory for the lowest quartile of each year’s entering class.

The ABA’s Accreditation Committee will submit its conclusions to the Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the ABA in mid September. TSU will send a small team, including Dr. Lane, Dr. Harris and Dr. Bledsoe, to present a full report of its remediation efforts to the council.

The Committee recommends a process to be followed over the next two years, through July 2020, to validate that the law school has followed through on the commitments that it made and that those  commitments and the school’s efforts have succeeded in bringing the law school into compliance with the ABA standards.

In the past year, TSU’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law has received several national awards and recognitions, including a third consecutive top three finish and Best Advocate Award at the National Mock Trial Inter-Law School competition, 2018-19 rankings by PreLaw Magazine in the “Best Law Schools for Employment” and “Best Specialties – Criminal Law,” and a #2 “Most Diverse” ranking by National Jurist.

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Last updated: 10/11/2018