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Thomas Jefferson School Of Law Fighting To Keep Its National Accreditation

Thomas Jefferson School of Law logo inside of it's campus in downtown San Die...

Photo by Matt Hoffman

Above: Thomas Jefferson School of Law logo inside of it's campus in downtown San Diego, June, 12, 2019.

The American Bar Association, or ABA, recently voted to revoke Thomas Jefferson School of Law's accreditation. An ABA accreditation represents a national standard in legal education and practice. The law school said it plans to appeal the ABA's decision.

This comes after in November 2017 the school was placed on probation by the ABA. The ABA had questions about the schools finances, academics, admission standards and bar passing rate.

The law school acknowledges it has had financial troubles but has been working to overcome them.

"We showed them (ABA) we had recently cleared more than $43 million in debt," said Thomas Jefferson School of Law Interim Dean Linda Keller. "We had relocated from a very expensive building to a much more affordable building."

Data from the state shows the law school had 25% of first-time bar takers pass the exam in July 2018. Comparatively the California average for ABA schools then was 63%.

Reported by Kris Arciaga

"Our bar passage numbers, particularly for first-time takers, are definitely lower than we’d like them to be," Keller said. "Our most recent February bar numbers are actually showing some improvement but we definitely want to do better."

Keller said the law school has worked to improve its academics.

"We revamped our curriculum so that students can get even more training and skills they need," she said.

Keller said class sizes have also gotten smaller in an effort to transform the law school into a smaller and stronger school.

Thomas Jefferson School of Law said the appeal process will take at least six months and during that time it will remain accredited with the ABA. The law school said it’s still accepting admissions and for current students, there isn’t an impact right now. As a precautionary measure, last year the law school received accreditation from the State Bar of California. That means if the law school’s ABA accreditation is lost students can still take the bar exam in California, just not in other states.

Thomas Jefferson School of Law first opened in 1969. Some notable alumni of the law school include former San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, current San Diego County Public Defender Randy Mize and former Congressman Duncan Hunter Sr.


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Photo of Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman
General Assignment Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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