As reported by the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, Sydney Beckman is stepping down as dean of the beleagured Lincoln Memorial University's Duncan School of Law after it has failed to win ABA accreditation.
It is probably a mixed blessing. First, simply put, he failed to achieve the objective for which he was retained. Second, although uncertain, maybe a new dean might breath new life into the law school.
The law students who have dedicated themselves to the law school are not completely out in the cold. Tennessee granted the law school a five-year extension to achieve accreditation. This means, in short, that a Duncan graduate can take the Tennessee bar exam and, if passed, can practice law in Tennessee. Whether that same student will be able to practice many other places in the country is questionable at this point.
With half of the law students graduating soon, the school would appear in decline. This is not a good thing at a time when law school applications are falling.
Is the law school generating below average results, or is the lack of prospects leading it to accept those that simply cannot get in elsewhere? This issue is clearly complicating its ABA accreditation.
The University of California - Irvine, which was started around the same time as Duncan, seemed to have found the answer to attracting the best students to its entering class -- a free law school education. In all of the fund raising that must take place to open new law school, maybe Duncan should have (or maybe it still can) find the money to lure the best and brightest in the Tennessee area - a little incentive to help these students to get past the uncertainty of ABA provisional approval.