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LMU-DUNCAN SCHOOL OF LAW FILES SUIT OVER ABA APPROVAL



December 22, 2011 - Knoxville, Tenn. — The Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) John J. Duncan, Jr. School of Law (LMU-DSOL) has filed a lawsuit against the American Bar Association (ABA) in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. The lawsuit was filed today. It alleges, among other things that the ABA denied the school due process and violated the Antitrust Act when it denied the school accreditation.

LMU-DSOL received notification of the ABA’s decision to deny the University’s first application for provisional accreditation in an email communication on Tuesday. LMU-DSOL and its administration disagrees with the ABA’s decision and maintains that the institution has met or exceeded every applicable standard for accreditation set forth by the ABA.

Federal antitrust laws promote or maintain market competition by regulating anti-competitive conduct by entities, including the ABA. The ABA previously faced a similar lawsuit when the Department of Justice alleged that the ABA’s effort to regulate law schools amounted to unfair competitive practices. The ABA settled the lawsuit with the Department of Justice and promised to correct its conduct in the future. In the lawsuit, LMU-DSOL alleges that the ABA’s recent denial of accreditation to the school was based, in part, on the ABA’s desire to limit the number of law schools and as a result thereof, the number of attorneys.

“Our law school is designed to serve a mission, to provide opportunity to students in Appalachia that might otherwise never be able to go to law school. We have a full-time or part-time (evening) option, we give our students laptops to allow them access to legal resources and study aids, we record our classes so students can review their classes again, we podcast lectures, provide free academic support classes and require students to perform pro bono work in the community,” said Vice President and Dean Sydney A. Beckman. “We regret having to take this action. We want to work with the ABA to improve legal education, not work against them or have them work against us.”

The Doctor of Jurisprudence program at LMU-DSOL has approval from the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners (TBLE).

LMU-DSOL has nearly 200 enrolled full- and part-time students and 16 faculty members. The inaugural class is slated to graduate in 2013. Regardless of the ABA status, all graduates of LMU-DSOL may apply to sit for the bar exam in the state of Tennessee.

“What kind of example would we be setting for our law students if we allowed them and our school to be treated unfairly and took no action to right this wrong?” LMU Chairman O.V. “Pete” DeBusk said. “The ABA has been given the privilege of being the sole regulating body on legal education in the United States by the Department of Education. In this role, its task was to evaluate and accredit the LMU-Duncan School of Law based on their applicable standards and our ability to deliver a top notch legal education.”

The Lincoln Memorial University-Duncan School of Law (LMU-DSOL) is located in Knoxville’s Historic Old City Hall Building. LMU-DSOL is an integral part of LMU’s values-based learning community, and is dedicated to preparing the next generation of lawyers to provide sound legal service in the often underserved region of Appalachia and beyond. For more information about LMU-DSOL, call 1-800-325-0900, ext. 5303 or visit us online at www.lmunet.edu/law.

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