American Bar Association Gives School of Law Full Accreditation for the Second Time

The University of St. Thomas School of Law again has received full accreditation from the American Bar Association as of Oct. 20.

The American Bar Association’s Accreditation Committee and Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar unanimously approved full accreditation for St. Thomas after a review of its School of Law’s current ABA compliance this past year. 

Thomas Mengler

Thomas Mengler

“We’re proud and honored to have the ABA’s approval well into the law school’s future,” said St. Thomas School of Law Dean Thomas Mengler. “To continue our status as fully accredited confirms our reputation as an academically excellent law school firmly grounded in our Catholic intellectual and social tradition.”

St. Thomas’ School of Law welcomed 120 students when it opened in 2001. It now enrolls 476. The school received provisional American Bar Association accreditation in 2003 and its first full accreditation in 2006.

During the accreditation process, the American Bar Association considered factors such as the quality of faculty, the student body, library and technology, the building, funding, resources and university support.

Since becoming provisionally accredited in 2003, the St. Thomas School of Law and its faculty have received a number of honors:

  • Ten faculty members (more than one-third of full-time faculty) have published in a “top 25” law review (22 articles) since 2004.
  • In 2009-2010, students dedicated 15,075 hours to public service as part of the school’s public-service requirement.
  • St. Thomas ranked No. 38 nationally in law-review citations to tenured faculty, per-capita, 2005 through 2009 (in a study extending Professor Brian Leiter’s “scholarly impact score” methodology to all ABA-accredited American law schools).
  • The St. Thomas School of Law achieved the No. 1 spot for the percentage of living alumni contributing to annual giving campaigns in the nation for five straight years, including 2009-2010.
  • Publication figures in “top 50” law reviews would rank St. Thomas No. 3 in the Roger Williams Study of Faculty Productivity in Leading Law Journals (study of law faculties outside U.S. News’ “top 50”).
  • Since 2004, 12 tenured faculty members (more than half of tenured faculty) have published 20 books, including major-academic-press books and casebooks from Aspen, West, Foundation and Carolina Academic Press.

When it opened in August 2001, the School of Law held classes in Terrence Murphy Hall on the university’s downtown Minneapolis campus. It moved into its permanent building on Harmon Place, between 11th and 12th streets, in 2003.

The school’s founding dean was David Link, who came to St. Thomas after more than 24 years as dean of the University of Notre Dame Law School. Mengler, former dean of the College of Law at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, became dean of the St. Thomas School of Law in June 2002.

In the early 1990s, the University of St. Thomas Board of Trustees began considering whether to reopen the School of Law, which had operated from 1923 to 1933 before closing because of the Great Depression.

A feasibility study in 1998 recommended that the university proceed with plans to establish a law school provided it could muster the needed resources and remain faithful to the proposed mission. In May 1999, the Board of Trustees resolved that the university reopen the School of Law in the fall of 2001.