Wednesday, December 21, 2011

New York Times, Sunday, December 17,2011 "For Law Schools, a Price to Play the A.B.A.'s Way."

David Segal wrote the article discussing how American Bar Association accreditation standards contribute to tuition costs at law schools. The first paragraph is actually the only part of the article discussing the standards for law libraries. You can find these standards on the A.B.A. website. (Standards of Rules and Procedures for Approval of Law Schools.)

The standards for law libraries are in Chapter 6. Segal's article talks about how a school in Appalachia, the Duncan School of Law, copes with the requirement that the library maintain a "core collection." Duncan meets this requirement by providing online access to the core collection. The required core collection is:

Interpretation 606-5
A law library core collection shall include the following:
(1) all reported federal court decisions and reported decisions of the highest appellate court of each state;
(2) all federal codes and session laws, and at least one current annotated code for each state;
(3) all current published treaties and international agreements of the United States;
(4) all current published regulations (codified and uncodified) of the federal government and the codified regulations of the state in which the law school is located;
(5) those federal and state administrative decisions appropriate to the programs of the law school;
(6) U.S. Congressional materials appropriate to the programs of the law school;
(7) significant secondary works necessary to support the programs of the law school, and
(8) those tools, such as citators and periodical indexes, necessary to identify primary and secondary legal information and update primary legal information.

Interpretation 606-6
The dean, faculty, and director of the law library should cooperate in formulation of the collection development plan,
While the requirements for a core collection may be straightforward, the more abstract principle and one that almost necessarily requires a large expenditure of money on materials and access is:

(a) A law school shall maintain a law library that is an active and responsive force in the educational life of the law school. A law library’s effective support of the school’s teaching,scholarship, research and service programs requires a direct, continuing and informed relationship with the faculty, students and administration of the law school.
(b) A law library shall have sufficient financial resources to support the law school’s teaching, scholarship, research, and service programs. These resources shall be supplied on a consistent basis.
(c) A law school shall keep its library abreast of contemporary technology and adopt it when appropriate.

While refraining from getting into Segal's arguments on ABA accreditation, one can contend that a library located in a large and sophisticated community like Harris County and contending with schools like the University of Houston and the University of Texas law libraries, requires at least a "Mercedes library." Our alumni also practice in sophisticated and demanding specialities like international arbitration, intellectual property and maritime law. Of course our library is a Rolls-Royce, "Silver Cloud." Our students, faculty, and alumni deserve no less!