By Gina Passarella
Of the Legal Staff
Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law has received its full accreditation from the American Bar Association.
The Council of the ABA's Section on of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved the application Friday at its annual meeting in Toronto. The law school received its provisional accreditation in February 2008, four months ahead of schedule.
"Providing students with an education that is both academically rigorous and infused with experiential learning has been a guiding principle since the inception of the Earle Mack School of Law," Drexel University President John A. Fry said in a statement. "Accreditation by the ABA is a resounding affirmation of the outstanding work of our faculty and staff, and the vision of our founding Dean Roger J. Dennis and forward-thinking Board of Trustees."
The Earle Mack School of Law opened in 2006, and has since graduated 404 students in its first three graduating classes. Nearly 93 percent of the first two graduating classes passed the bar exam in at least one state.
The school has a unique co-op model that provides semester-long placements during which students can work part- or full-time at law firms, government agencies, general counsel offices, the courts and public interest organizations.
The law school also participates in three field clinics and operates an in-house appellate litigation clinic. The school's pro bono requirement demands a minimum of 50 hours of service before graduation. The 404 members of the first three graduating classes tallied 48,000 hours of service, averaging more than 115 hours per student.
Dennis said Friday that the support the law school received from the broader university was key in allowing it to spend the right resources on attracting and retaining the right faculty and student body.
Dennis said having the accreditation gives the school that much more credibility and allays any concerns various stakeholders might have in investing in an unaccredited school.
"It's a question that would come up," he said. "We'd have a good answer for it, but now we don’t have to have an answer at all."
Drexel's law school has grown up in a time when many have questioned whether there need to be as many newly minted lawyers as there currently are. The school has adapted by holding off on plans to grow the class size.
There are about 450 students throughout the law school, a number the school initially wanted to increase a few years into its existence. Dennis said late last year, however, that Drexel had decided to keep the number at that level -- small, compared to most schools -- for the next four or five years. It was decided that growing the program wasn't a good thing to do to potential graduates in a tight job market, Dennis had said.