BANGOR – Future graduates of a proposed unaccredited law school at Husson University wouldn’t be allowed to take the Maine Bar Examination, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court decided Thursday.

Husson had asked the court to establish a process to assess the quality of its law school in place of American Bar Association accreditation.

To take the Maine bar exam and be allowed to practice in this state, lawyers must have graduated or nearly graduated from an accredited law school, according to the court’s decision.

Husson hasn’t sought ABA accreditation for its proposed law school, in part because the university’s faculty voted more than 15 years ago to forgo tenure. Faculty tenure is required for ABA accreditation.

In place of ABA accreditation, Husson asked the court to devise a set of ABA-like standards and create a commission to determine whether the proposed law school would meet those standards.

“Husson’s decision not to apply for accreditation from the ABA provides an insufficient basis for us to take these extraordinary steps,” Chief Justice Leigh Saufley wrote in the court’s decision.

Husson is trying to establish a second law school in Maine – the only one now is the University of Maine School of Law in Portland. Husson first sought bar exam approval from the high court in 2007.

The Maine Department of Education has approved Husson’s request to offer law degrees.

Husson President Robert Clark said university officials will examine the law school issue with the university’s board of trustees in April and announce revised plans as they develop.

“At this point we will review the options available to us,” Clark said in a prepared statement. “We are appreciative of the time and consideration of the court. Given the current pressures on the court, we can understand their reluctance to take on the responsibility of overseeing the implementation of a new law school.”

 

Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:

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