The Florida A&M University College of Law reached a milestone last week when the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions granted full accreditation to the Orlando-based law school.
“It shows how hard the staff and faculty worked to meet ABA’s rigorous standards,” said Kent D. Lollis, executive director for Diversity Initiatives at the Law School Admission Council, a nonprofit organization that administers the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT).
Full accreditation will allow FAMU law school graduates to take the bar exam in any state. A total of 189 law schools are fully accredited by the ABA.
“Critics of our school once said that the mountain was too steep to climb,” FAMU law school dean LeRoy Pernell said in an official statement. “When faced with a mountain you have to cross, the slope is irrelevant.”
In the past two years, the school has increased faculty and its capacities. Since 2007, it has hired 16 new faculty members and has established the Center for International Law and Justice (CILJ) in fall 2008. U.S. News and World Report recognized the school as “the most diverse law school in the nation,” in May. It tied for the No. 1 diversity spot with Texas Southern University.
The school was established by the state of Florida in 1949 and it was closed in 1968. Florida legislators approved re-establishment of the FAMU law school in 2000. The FAMU law school opened to 89 students in 2002 and received provisional accreditation in August 2004.
The law school has the mission to provide public service, enhance justice, and to provide opportunities for minorities to attain representation within the legal profession, according to officials.
“It gives them license to help increase the number of people of color in the profession,” Lollis said of FAMU law school, which has about 500 enrolled students.
In 2007, the Associated Press reported that the percentage of Black lawyers in U.S. law firms was 5 percent. In addition to FAMU, there are five other law schools based at HBCUs: Howard University, Texas Southern University, North Carolina Central University, Southern University, and David A. Clarke School of Law at the University of the District of Columbia. Miles Law School, which shares the namesake of Miles College in Birmingham, Ala., was established in 1974 and operates independently of the historically Black college.
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