Drexel University College of Law Receives American Bar Association Provisional Accreditation
The Drexel University College of Law has received provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association (ABA), Drexel President Constantine Papadakis announced. The seal of approval comes at the earliest point allowed under the ABA’s accreditation guidelines.
Provisional accreditation means all Drexel Law graduates will be able to take the bar exam in any jurisdiction. Upon passing the exam, graduates can begin practicing professionally.
“To reach this milestone less than 18 months after welcoming our first law students to Drexel is remarkable and a testament to the vision and commitment of our Board of Trustees and the hard work and passion of the faculty and staff of the College of Law and its founding dean, Roger Dennis,” Papadakis said. “Drexel Law has gathered some of the most talented, innovative law faculty, practicing professionals and students anywhere, and it shows in every initiative.”
The College is the first law school established by a highly ranked doctoral university in more than 25 years and the first to open in Greater Philadelphia, which now has six law schools, in more than 30 years, Papadakis said. The University is among 25 top-ranked private universities that have both law and medical schools.
The College distinguishes itself in two significant ways, according to Dennis. It is one of only two law schools in the country to use the co-op approach to legal education. Through cooperative education, students supplement classroom study with professional experience. Almost 100 employers have joined Drexel Law as co-op partners, including law firms, the courts, in-house corporate counsel, nonprofit organizations, government and public-interest agencies.
The College also differentiates itself through its concentrations in three emerging and high-growth areas of the law, which align with Drexel’s historic strengths: intellectual property, health care and entrepreneurial business, Dennis said.
The University has pursued an aggressive marketing campaign to recruit faculty, co-op partners and Drexel Law’s inaugural class, which arrived in August 2006. The College received more than 600 applications for 12 teaching positions the first year and has built a growing faculty of legal scholars who have experience as both full-time law professors and practicing members of the bar. The state-of-the-art College of Law building opened on Drexel’s University City Main Campus in January 2007, and Dennis was appointed dean in last spring following a national search.
Student demand has been overwhelming. Of more than 1,700 applicants, 180 were admitted to the inaugural class. Members of the second class had a mean GPA of 3.4 and LSAT score of 158.
Legal and political leaders, including Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who was named an honorary member of the College’s inaugural class, offered congratulations to the College and University for their vision.
“I can think of no better way to prepare new attorneys for practice in health law, business law and intellectual property law than to give budding lawyers opportunities to learn by working with experienced practitioners in Philadelphia’s thriving business and legal communities,” he said. “… The University’s College of Law will play a critical role in enhancing legal practice in Pennsylvania and the region as a whole.”
U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter agreed: “The College is helping to ensure that future generations of attorneys are prepared for the challenges and dilemmas they will face in the practice of law. I salute Drexel and its College of Law for once again having the wisdom to enhance education by focusing on real-world experiences.”
Judge Anthony J. Scirica, chief judge of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, said, “I’m confident that the Drexel faculty and students, under the enlightened leadership of Dean Roger Dennis, will make significant contributions to legal scholarship and legal practice, not just in this area, but throughout the country.”
Students at the College are already helping the citizens of Philadelphia, said Mayor Michael Nutter. “The law students who receive practical training in Philadelphia businesses, law firms, courthouses and service organizations are enhancing efforts to nurture and renew this great city,” he said. “The pro bono representation that students provide to city residents puts justice within reach for more members of the community, and that can only serve the greater good in Philadelphia.”
At a Glance
Drexel University College of Law
• The idea of establishing a law school sprang from demand that had grown within the University over a number of years, with Drexel offering more than 50 law-related courses. The president set out to establish a law school in early 2005. A committee comprising administrators from Drexel’s 13 colleges and schools recommended to Papadakis in April 2005 that the University pursue the establishment of a law school. The plan for it was approved by the Board of Trustees in May 2005 and the Pennsylvania Department of Education four months later.
• More than 100 second-year law students spend 25 hours each week in co-op placements supervised by practicing attorneys and Drexel Law faculty.
o The co-op approach addresses concerns about legal education highlighted in a 2007 study by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, which recommended giving students better preparation for the ethical and practical issues they will confront after graduation.
• Each Drexel Law student must complete a minimum of 50 hours of pro bono work prior to graduation on behalf of indigent clients or organizations that serve them.
• The Class of 2009 features students from 21 states and six foreign countries, and the Class of 2010 drew students from 16 states and three foreign countries.
• Twenty-three percent of students in the Class of 2009 are racial minorities, and 21 percent of students in the Class of 2010 are minorities.
• To promote diversity in the legal profession, the College has established affiliation agreements with minority, ethnic and religious bar associations in Greater Philadelphia.
o Eligible students receive diversity fellowships of $5,000 a year for three years from a sponsoring law firm or corporation and the opportunity to participate in a co-op placement at that firm or organization while a student.
News media contacts:
Brian Rossiter, Drexel News Bureau
215-895-2705, 267-228-5599 (cell) or firstname.lastname@example.org
Sarah Greenblatt, College of Law communications manager
215-571-4804 or email@example.com