Complaints Alleging Non-Compliance with the Standards
Rule 24(d) of the ABA Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools governs the filing of complaints against law schools. Rule 24 can be found on our website at: Rules of Procedure. The complaint process is designed to bring to the attention of the Council any facts and allegations that may indicate that an approved law school is operating its program of legal education out of compliance with the ABA Standards for the Approval of Law Schools. This process is not available to serve as a mediating or dispute-resolving process for a person with complaints about the policies or actions of an approved law school. The Council will not intervene with an approved law school on behalf of an individual with a complaint against or concern regarding action taken by a law school that adversely affects that individual. The outcome of this process will not be the ordering of any indvidual relief for any person or requiring specific action by a law school with respect to any individual.
A complaint must meet the following requirements:
(1) Except in extraordinary circumstances, the complaint must be filed within one calendar year of the facts on which the allegation is based. Pursuit of other rememdies does not toll this one calendar year limit.
(2) Complaints must be in writing using the form "Complaint Against an ABA-Approved Law School" and must be signed. The form can be downloaded here: Complaint Form.
(3) As outlined in the Complaint Form, the complaint must include the following information:
(i) A clear and concise description of the nature of the complaint. Provide any evidence upon which the allegation is based, with relevant supporting documentation. The description and supporting evidence should include relevant facts that support the allegation that the law school is out of compliance with the Standards referenced in the complaint.
(ii) The section(s) of the Standards alleged to have been violated and the time frame in which the lack of compliance is alleged to have occurred.
(iii) A description of the steps taken to exhaust the law school's grievance process and the actions taken by the law school in response to the complaint as a result of prescribed procedures.
(iv) Disclosure of any other channels the complainant is pursuing, including legal action.
(v) A release authorizing the Consultant's Office to send a copy of the complaint to the dean of the law school.
Process upon receipt of a complaint
The Consultant or designee shall determine whether the report alleges facts that raise issues relating to an approved law school’s compliance with the Standards. The Consultant or designee may request additional information from the complainant if appropriate. If the Consultant or designee concludes that the report does not raise issues relating to an approved school’s compliance with the Standards, the matter will be closed.
The Consultant or designee may, with the concurrence of the chairperson of the Accreditation Committee, defer the complaint proceedings if a party to the proceedings files or has filed a claim in another forum. If a law school that is the subject of a complaint is due to receive a regularly scheduled sabbatical site visit within a reasonable time after the complaint is received, the complaint may be merged into the site visit process.
If the Consultant or designee determines that the report does raise possible compliance issues, the report shall be sent to the school and a response requested. The Consultant or designee ordinarily will request the dean of the school to respond within 30 days.
If the response from the school establishes that the school is not out of compliance with respect to the matters raised in the report, the Consultant or designee will close the matter.
If the school’s response does not establish that it is operating in compliance with the Standards on the matters raised by the report, the Consultant or designee, with the concurrence of the chairperson of the Accreditation Committee, may appoint a fact finder to visit the school to investigate the issues raised by the report and the school’s response. The complaint, the school's response, and fact-finder’s report, if any, shall be referred to the Accreditation Committee and considered in the same manner as reports and reviews that fall under Rule 13(a) of the Rules of Procedure.
The person making the report will be notified promptly regarding the conclusion of the matter. The person filing the report will not be provided with a copy of the school’s response, if any, and will not receive any further report on the matter.
There is no appeal to the Council or the Accreditation Committee, or elsewhere in the American Bar Association, in connection with a conclusion by the Consultant or designee that a report does not raise issues under the Standards.
Complaints should be sent to:
Office of the Consultant on Legal Education, American Bar Association, 321 N. Clark Street, 21st Floor, Chicago, IL 60654.
Learn more about the Accreditation Process or the Standards and Rules of Procedure for Approval of Law Schools