By Kirsten Williams, Staff Writer
Vermont Law School (VLS) Interim Dean and President Beth McCormack announced at the Tuesday, March 9 Student Bar Association (SBA) general meeting that the American Bar Association (ABA) and American Association of Law Schools (AALS) will conduct a virtual site visit to the school beginning April 12. The ABA is one of the law school’s accreditors.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, VLS’ originally scheduled April 2020 ABA site visit was pushed back one year. The ABA traditionally visits ABA-accredited law schools across the nation every seven years to ensure the schools are meeting ABA standards. Following this April’s site visit, however, VLS’ next site visit will not occur for another 10 years, according to new ABA guidelines.
“In preparing for the visit, one of the things we’ve been working on is [sending] a lot of written documentation to the ABA site team that answers questions and shows how we meet the standards,” said McCormack.
The site-visit team is comprised of seven volunteer members from law schools all across the country. The team is led by Professor Emeritus Brad Clary from the University of Minnesota Law School. In true COVID-19 fashion, the site visit itself will be virtual and will involve the site team coming into virtual classes and meeting with VLS students via Teams or Zoom.
“It’s actually a really exciting time to think about all the things we’ve accomplished and all the areas in which we could be even better,” said Vice Dean for Faculty Cynthia Lewis, who provided further details about the visit.
Speaking to the visit’s student-input component, Lewis emphasized the importance of students having the chance to speak about their experiences at VLS. In addition to a separate meeting with the SBA Executive Board, the ABA site team will also host a general student body meeting. Students involved with clinics, specialized courses, or particular programs may have additional opportunities to speak with site visit team members.
Lewis noted that students—and faculty—should prepare for the possibility of ABA site team members popping in and out of classes on the Monday and Tuesday of the site-visit period, in both virtual and online classes.