Following provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association in June 2013, Belmont University’s College of Law received full ABA accreditation in June 2016, making it the fourth law school in Tennessee to receive full accreditation.
Receiving ABA accreditation is a lengthy process, and Belmont’s College of Law received ABA accreditation as quickly as possible, said Alberto Gonzales, the dean of the College of Law.
The College of Law received approval from the Tennessee Supreme Court in 2011, welcoming its charter class that fall. The ABA requires all new law schools to operate for one full year before applying for provisional accreditation, so Belmont’s College of Law applied for provisional accreditation in August 2012 and received provisional accreditation in August 2013.
After applying for full ABA accreditation in August 2015, the College of Law received full ABA accreditation on June 4.
Provisional accreditation from the ABA in 2013 made the class of 2014 eligible to sit for the bar examination in any state, but full ABA accreditation will make all future graduating classes eligible to sit for the bar in any state, a quality Gonzales expects will cause an increase in out-of-state applicants, help with recruitment and increase in the college’s current graduate employment rate of 86.6 percent.
Accreditation means recognition and growth for the school, and full accreditation will result in more people applying to Belmont’s law school, said Erin Hagerty, a current first year law student. Andy Matthews, the associate dean for Student Services, is also optimistic about the potential benefits of the college’s recent full ABA accreditation, not just for the College of Law but for Belmont University as a whole.
“For the university, having a fully accredited professional degree program will certainly improve upon an already fantastic reputation Belmont enjoys,” Matthews said. “The university will attract more legal scholars to campus whether it is through a speaker series, guest lecturing or hiring for full-time teaching positions. In short, the academic profile of the university will increase.”
The Belmont University College of Law joins three other ABA accredited law schools in Tennessee, including law schools at the University of Memphis, the University of Tennessee Knoxville and Vanderbilt University.
Article and photo by Forrest Brown.