Lawyers from Non-ABA Schools Need Not Apply for Job at Non-ABA School
California is one of the few states in this country that accreditates law schools, and under certain conditions, allows students who earn a JD from a non-ABA and non-state accredited law school to sit for its bar exam. Because of this liberal policy, there are quite a number of non-accredited law schools in California that literally operate out of small office buildings. (I've even heard of one school that operated out of a home garage).
I myself earned a law degree from a school that is accredited by California, but not by the ABA. From the beginning, I knew that graduating from Trinity Law School would be a severe liability for me as far as landing a job with a respected or established law firm was concerned. But because I liked the school's underlying Christian-based mission and wanted to make a contribution to its' growth and reputation (e.g., having graduates who pass the bar exam on their first try) I stayed around and didn't transfer to an ABA school when I had the chance to do so.
It certainly cannot be understated that being a graduate of a non-ABA law school has been a career liability for me. I can't tell you how many "we don't have a position to match your qualifications" letters I've gotten from law firms I submitted my resume to. Again, though, such rejection, which I'm pretty sure is mostly based on where I got my law degree from, is not unexpected. What is unexpected, and thoroughly dismaying, is that my own law school apparently doesn't think much of the juris doctorate degree it conferred on me and other Trinity Law School graduates. How else to explain the craigslist job ad it posted a couple of weeks ago where one of the minimum qualifications an applicant for an adjunct faculty position must have is a law degree from an ABA accredited school?* I tell you what, this ticked me off so much that I ripped off a scathing letter to the law school dean and the president of the university that owns the school. I basically told them that I found the job ad to be insulting, and that they can forget about me ever recommending Trinity to any potential law students. I also said that I intended to actively discourage any potential law students from even considering Trinity. It's bad enough that most law firms think a Trinity law degree is crap, but for Trinity itself to basically suggest such a thing is just an over the edge ball-buster. Unless things change, I am done with Trinity Law School and will have nothing more to do with it outside of telling anyone who will listen that it is not a school any aspiring lawyer should consider applying to or attending.
*Full disclosure: I applied for an adjunct faculty position at Trinity Law School about three weeks before the above referenced ad was posted on craigslist. At the time, I was a bit worried I wouldn't get any consideration given the fact I'm Catholic and could only affirm the school's protestant/evangelical-based statement of faith with "severe reservations" (the school does not require students to affirm this statement). However, my worries were somewhat tempered because I knew there was at least one adjunct faculty member, a Superior Court Judge, who is Catholic.
Update (3/30/07): The academic dean of the school, Don McConnell, called me today about the letter I sent. He basically told me that the craigslist job ad was not meant to slight or exclude Trinity graduates, and that my application for an adjunct position would be considered. I took his word at it, although privately I don't believe my application will be given the same weight as an applicant who holds a degree from an ABA accredited school. The bell cannot be totally unrung here, and my disappointed cynicism remains.