Richardson R. Lynn has just finished up his first year as the dean of John Marshall Law School, after 26 years at the Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, Calif. He arrived last July at a watershed moment for John Marshall, a year and a half after it won provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association. (The school has until 2010 to secure full accreditation.)

John Marshall was founded in 1933 as a night law school for working people — often older students with day jobs and families to support. It was accredited by the state of Georgia, not the ABA, until the state Supreme Court decreed in 1987 that all Georgia law schools must become nationally accredited. John Marshall had to secure ABA accreditation to survive, and now its success at doing so is also making it more like a traditional law school.

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