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The American Bar Association’s House of Delegates on Monday approved Barry University law school’s latest application for provisional accreditation. The vote followed a recommendation on Saturday by the ABA’s Council on Legal Education and Admission to grant the embattled Orlando, Fla., school provisional accreditation. The ABA delegates generally follow the council, said Eric Dubois, director of institutional advancement at the Barry law school. “We celebrate this vote as a just and timely one,” said Sister Jeanne O’Laughlin, president of Barry University, in a written statement. “Our greatest joy is for our students and our alumni, who have worked so hard to fulfill their dreams. Now they will get the chance.” The ABA denied accreditation to Barry University twice, and once before when the institution was known as the University of Orlando School of Law. Barry acquired the school in March 1999. Some graduates of the school have not been able to take the Florida Bar exam because of the school’s lack of accreditation, while about 77 of the 125 current alumni have taken it but have not been allowed to see the results, pending a positive accreditation decision. The school has 250 students and 125 alumni, Dubois said. Several Barry grads and law students have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Orlando, claiming that the ABA violated federal antitrust law in its evaluation of the school. The House of Delegates was the final hurdle Barry needed to clear to win provisional accreditation. Now the school will have three to five years to win full accreditation. In November, an ABA subcommittee recommended against granting provisional accreditation to the Barry law school, saying that the school’s financial needs would force it to lower standards in deciding which students to enroll. The ABA previously had denied accreditation because the school admitted several students who the association felt would not likely pass the Florida Bar exam. It also expressed concern about the program’s “rigor” and noted the school had not studied the potential impact of the state funded, soon-to-open Florida A&M law school in Orlando. Since November, Dubois said, Barry has put the ABA’s fears to rest by raising $15.6 million. Of that, $11.3 million was in the form of anonymous pledges and donations from Barry University alumni and friends mostly from three generous individuals, he said. “Now we can be selective” in who is admitted to the school, Dubois added. In additional to the financial aid, the law school also received the support of Gov. Jeb Bush and Attorney General Bob Butterworth, both of whom wrote letters to the ABA last month recommending provisional accreditation for the school. The granting of provisional accreditation will give the school a huge boost in efforts to recruit new students, Dubois said. And it will permit graduates of the school to take the Bar exam or learn the results of their Florida Bar exams, which were sealed due to the lack of accreditation, and to be admitted to the Bar if they pass. “We have always believed in our students,” said Barry law school dean Stanley Talcott in a written statement. “This end result will be one that’s beneficial to all.”

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