ABA Accreditation of Law Schools: An Antitrust Analysis

The accreditation activities of the American Bar Association are under attack. From within legal academia, professors and deans complain that the ABA accreditation process is overly formalistic and intrusive. In addition, the Massachusetts School of Law has sued the ABA, alleging that the ABA’s accreditation standards violate the Sherman Act. From outside legal academia, the Department of Justice has investigated the ABA’s accreditation activities and initiated an antitrust suit against the ABA. The Department of Justice and the ABA immediately settled this suit, and, as a result of this settlement, the ABA has agreed not to enforce certain standards and to review other standards. In this Note, the author analyzes the applicability of the Sherman Act to the accreditation of law schools and concludes that law school accreditation is within the scope of the Act. The author further reviews the antitrust implications of the individual accreditation standards and suggests changes to questionable standards. The author argues that the ABA should establish a strong link between each standard and a legitimate educational goal in order to avoid any antitrust problems.