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Thursday, August 12

Law schools readying for academic year with summer renovations
Adam Henry

While "April is the cruelest month," August, for law schools at least, may be the noisest, with schools scrambling to finish summer renovations before the beginning of another academic year. JURIST's host institution, the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, is no exception in this regard. It is currently in the homestretch of an overhaul of its three-floor Barco Law Library, as colorfully chronicled by one good-natured library employee here. Meanwhile, in Durham, workers are finishing the facelift phase of a $20-million renovation to the Duke University School of Law, initiated just after exams last spring. In support of the effort, alumnus and juice-baron Stanley A. Star recently pledged $3 million to his alma mater. (Watch construction progress by webcam here.) Duke Law made headlines earlier this summer when it announced the adoption of a revised grading scale, bringing the school in line with its peers and making its students' grades more understandable to employers. Read the Chronicle's full story here.

The American Bar Association, which requires "adequate" physical facilities of its member schools (see the Section of Legal Education's facilities standards here), is often the motivating force behind renovations and new construction. Responding to threats to its accreditation from the ABA, the University of Colorado School of Law has finally secured funding for a new facility. The ABA had called the school's existing building, which lacks an instructional classroom, "woefully inadequate."

In other ABA accreditation news, the organization on Monday accorded provisional approval to the law schools at both Florida A&M and Florida International, meaning, most significantly, that those schools' students may sit for the bar exam following graduation. A&M and FIU offer their own news releases here and here, respectively. Finally, last month, the state of South Carolina formally licensed the Charleston School of Law to begin instruction this fall. After the completion of its first year, the school will be eligible to apply for ABA accreditation. In other news out of Charleston, the fledgling institution announced Wednesday that Chief Judge William W. Wilkins of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit will join the Charleston faculty as a visiting professor for its first academic year.

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Adam Henry is an anchor for JURIST's Paper Chase and a 2L at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He holds an AB in Politics from Princeton University.
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