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Liberty University School of Law, founded by the late Jerry Falwell Sr., has earned full accreditation from the American Bar Association. The ABA’s Council of the Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar voted last week to give full accreditation to the Lynchburg, Va., school, which has been provisionally accredited since 2006. “We are very pleased with the result,” said Dean Mathew Staver. “This allows us to do various new programs that we weren’t able to as a provisionally approved school.” The only degree provisionally accredited law schools may offer is the juris doctor. With full accreditation, Liberty plans to launch study-abroad programs in the Middle East, Europe and Asia. It also plans to add several LL.M. programs, a law Ph.D. program and several joint-degree programs, Staver said. Another possibility is offering an accelerated program that would allow students to complete an undergraduate and a law degree in six years instead of the typical seven. The law school opened in 2004 and was provisionally approved 18 months later. Although eligible to apply for full accreditation in 2008, administrators waited one year to complete construction of an 11,000-square-foot building. The school applied in 2009 and was approved on its first attempt. “The accreditation approval of the School of Law represents a significant milestone in the history of Liberty University,” Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. said in a written statement. “The speed of the approval is a credit to the School of Law and to the quality of its program.” Having full accreditation will make recruiting students easier, Staver said. The school’s incoming class this year comprises 138 students, but administrators hope to increase that number in the coming years to about 180. The school bills itself as teaching law “in the context of the Christian intellectual tradition.” It’s not just the religious focus of the school that sets it apart from the 200 other ABA-accredited law schools in the country, Staver said — Liberty has a heavy emphasis on skills, requiring students to take six semesters of lawyering courses including motions-writing, interviewing clients, transactional work and moot court competitions. “We’ve been very aggressive in our skills training,” Staver said. “It really helps students better understand substantive law.”

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