Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Florida Coastal Passes the Bar Law School Receives Accreditation Nod

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Florida Coastal Passes the Bar Law School Receives Accreditation Nod

Article excerpt

Three years of growth and faith paid off for Florida Coastal School of Law yesterday, as administrators announced the school has received a recommendation for provisional accreditation from a key committee of the American Bar Association.

The report by the accreditation committee triggers a review by the legal education arm of the bar association next month, and by the governing board in August. But it is expected to hold.

As a result, students who will graduate from the law school this month -- the first graduating class -- can prepare to take the bar exam this year.

The good news, delivered by founding dean Donald Lively to several hundred assembled students and faculty, prompted wild cheers and a standing ovation.

Lively, who stood silently, thanked everyone for coming out in the middle of finals. Then, he said: "I figured it was something you would want to know."

Administrators uncorked bottles of champagne in the courtyard and celebrated with students and faculty. A congratulatory bouquet of roses was delivered to Lively by 5 p.m.

Although provisional status is a step toward full accreditation, it carries many of the same benefits for students and law school officials.

In addition to having eligibility to take the bar exam, students attending provisionally accredited schools qualify for federally subsidized student loans. With full-time tuition and fees exceeding $17,000 a year, most students borrow.

And the law school itself will likely enjoy greater success in recruitment of students with strong academic profiles, once it has accreditation.

"There are a lot more risk-averse people than there are risk-takers," said Lively, formerly a professor of law at the University of Toledo.

Francis Beytagh, a professor and the former law school president, thanked students yesterday for their faith. "This is a great day for all of us, and the people who deserve the most credit are you. Because you stuck with us, when you had lots of reasons to doubt what we were doing."

About 450 students attend Florida Coastal, nearly half full-time. The school opened in 1996 with 60 students.

The report of the accreditation committee acknowledges progress made by the school in raising academic standards, strengthening clinical programs and becoming more selective in admissions. …

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