Aug 20, 2019  
2019-2020 Law School Student Handbook 
    
2019-2020 Law School Student Handbook

Disability Services & Policy



Golden Gate University School of Law is committed to equal educational opportunity and full participation for persons with disabilities. The School of Law values the inclusion of students with disabilities, which benefits not only these individuals, but the law school community and the legal profession as a whole. Enrolled students with verified disabilities will be provided reasonable and necessary accommodations, including auxiliary aids and services. Student Affairs, Law School administers the disability services program, under the supervision of the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Law School who is the designated ADA/Section 504 Compliance Officer for the law school.

Definitions

The following definitions apply to terms used in this section, and are based on federal law.

  1. Individual with a Disability: An individual who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that limits one or more major life activities; or (2) has a record of such an impairment; or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment.

  2. Otherwise Qualified Individual with a Disability: An individual with a disability who meets the academic and technical standards requisite to admission and participation in the law school’s educational program and activities. The qualifications for participating in the law school’s educational program include but are not limited to the ability “to understand, analyze, apply and communicate legal concepts.”

  3. Reasonable Accommodations: Modifications of the academic program, standards, or physical environment, and auxiliary aids and services provided in the academic environment to enrolled students with disabilities to address a verified need. Reasonable accommodations do not include measures that would fundamentally alter the nature of the academic program, or would result in an undue financial or administrative burden.

Admissions

  1. Application Process
    The law school does not discriminate on the basis of disability in the admissions process, nor is information regarding disability status requested from applicants. Any disability-related information an applicant volunteers during the admissions process shall be kept in accordance with state and federal laws relating to confidentiality. When assessing the qualifications of an applicant with a disability, evaluators consider other relevant factors, including undergraduate record, educational program, work experience, and any other information that the applicant supplies.

    Prospective students and applicants with questions related to disability accommodations at the law school are welcome to contact the Student Affairs, Law School at 442-6515 or lawds@ggu.edu.

  2. Accepted Applicants with Need for Accommodations
    The law school encourages admitted students with disabilities who will be requesting accommodations to contact the Student Affairs, Law School at 442-6515or lawds@ggu.edu at the earliest possible date, and ideally no later than two weeks before the start of the student’s first term. The law school will work with the student in an effort to have reasonable accommodations in place when the student commences study. Early planning is essential for many of the resources and accommodations provided. Please refer to “Registering with Disability Resources and Academic Accommodations” below.

The Law School’s Disability Services Program

  1. Policy of Non-Discrimination Based on Disability
    In compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended in 2008, and the Unruh Civil Rights Act, no otherwise qualified individual shall be excluded from participation in, or be denied the benefits of, any GGU School of Law program or activity on the basis of disability. The law school shall provide reasonable accommodations to afford equal opportunity and full participation in all law school programs for qualified students with professionally verified disabilities. In particular:

    1. Students with disabilities shall have the opportunity to participate in law school programs and activities such as scholarly publications, interscholastic competitions, clinics, and externships for which they qualify. When necessary, the appropriate entity will provide students with reasonable accommodations to maintain access to the activities described above.

    2. No registered student organization shall discriminate in its membership practices on the basis of disability.

    3. The law school will not assist outside organizations or persons known by the law school to discriminate against individuals on the basis of disability.

    4. The law school will provide academic advising and career development services without discrimination on the basis of disability. Qualified students with disabilities will not be counseled toward more restrictive career objectives than are other students with similar interests and abilities.

    5. In providing financial assistance to qualified students, the law school may not provide less assistance, limit eligibility for assistance, or otherwise discriminate on the basis of disability.

  2. Registering with Disability Resources and Academic Accommodations 
    Disability Resources and Academic Accommodations is housed within Student Affairs. Disability Resources works with students individually to determine appropriate and reasonable accommodations. All accommodations and services are provided on a case-by-case basis. Students should NOT discuss disability accommodations directly with their instructors.

    Students who may require accommodations should contact Law Student Support at 442-6515 or lawds@ggu.edu to arrange an intake appointment. Student Affairs will conduct a personal interview to explore the student’s needs in the law school setting and explain the verification process. Documentation requirements will vary, depending on the disability and the accommodations requested, and may include:

    1. A history of accommodations received in post-secondary institutions or in places of employment, which is subject to verification; and/or

    2. Documentation from a licensed health care provider, who must be a nonrelative and not the student him/herself, who is qualified in the diagnosis of the relevant disability.

Student Affairs reviews the documentation and other information provided to ensure that the requested accommodations are reasonable and appropriate, given the student’s present impairment and functional limitations in the academic setting. The law school may, at its own expense, obtain outside consultation regarding the accommodations determination.

Student Affairs will notify students in writing about the outcome of the verification process and any approved accommodations.

Students who have been approved to receive accommodations are considered to be registered with Disability Resources and Academic Accommodations, but must submit a “Request for Accommodations” at the time of the determination and each semester thereafter.

  1. Procedures for Registered Students

  1. Students who are registered with Disability Resources and Academic Accommodations are responsible for submitting a “Request for Accommodations” form at the beginning of each term through an online process, identifying the classes and exams for which they will need accommodations.

  2. Students will receive a reminder email prior to the start of each term with a link to the form; however, students are responsible for complying with the established deadlines and should contact Student Affairs if they have not received the email. Late requests may not be honored.

  3. Accommodations shall be subject to review and may be terminated upon any change in the nature of the student’s disability or the student’s failure to properly utilize the services provided. Each student registered with Disability Resources and Academic Accommodations shall meet upon request with Student Affairs to evaluate the accommodations plan.

  4. Students are expected to immediately report any problems or dissatisfaction with an accommodation to the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Law School.

  1. Accommodations for a Temporary Disability
    Students seeking accommodations on the basis of a temporary disability must provide documentation from their licensed health care provider, who must be a nonrelative and not the student him/herself, who is qualified in the diagnosis of such conditions. The documentation may be on the law school’s verification form (obtained by contacting Student Affairs or at http://law.ggu.edu/student-support/disability-services/) or on the professional’s letterhead. It must be signed and dated, and include the nature of the condition, the student’s current level of functional impairment, the expected duration of the condition, and recommended accommodations. The cost of obtaining the professional documentation shall be borne by the student.

    If the initial documentation is incomplete or inadequate to determine the extent of impairment and appropriate accommodations, the law school shall have the discretion to require the student to obtain a supplemental assessment, the cost of which shall be borne by the student. If impairment continues beyond the expected duration, the student will be required to submit additional documentation.

  2. Records and Privacy

    1. Student records regarding disability are maintained separately from the Registrar’s official student files, and no information disclosing disability or accommodations becomes part of a student’s official transcript.

    2. All documents produced by consultants in the performance of services for the law school shall be and shall remain the property of the law school.

    3. If necessary, disability-related information may be provided to school officials with legitimate educational interest or to other parties as required by law.

  1. Disqualified Student Appeals
    An academically disqualified student who identifies himself or herself as disabled may request in writing to Student Affairs, Law School that his or her Petition for Reinstatement be supplemented by a summary report and/or student records, which may include: the nature of the disability reported, if any; whether accommodations were provided at GGU; the date accommodations were initially granted; results of outside testing to determine the extent to which the disability affects the student’s ability to participate or perform in the academic program; and any other information contained in the student’s disability file relevant to the petition.

  2. Post-Graduation Policy and Services

    1. The law school will assist students and alumni in documenting accommodations received during law school; student requests for such documentation must be in writing. The law school will also provide counseling regarding the bar exam accommodations application process. Note: student records are maintained for five years after graduation or last date of attendance, after which time they generally are destroyed.

    2. Office for Career Services will aid all graduates, with or without disabilities, in developing career opportunities after the completion of studies at Golden Gate University School of Law.

    3. The law school has a policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability in all alumni activities that are a part of the official program of the law school or that involve the participation of applicants or enrolled students.

  1. Grievances
    All student-initiated grievances shall be heard according to the following procedures:

  1. Informal Resolution
    A student who believes that he or she has encountered a violation of the policies listed herein is encouraged to notify the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Law School as early as possible after the incident. In the event that the party against whom the grievance is filed is the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Law School, then the grievance shall be filed with the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. The Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Law School (or the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs) may dispose of the matter informally or refer it for a hearing to the Student Hearings Committee.

    If the matter is handled informally and the student agrees with its disposition, the disposition shall be final. If the matter is handled informally and the student disagrees with its disposition, a hearing by the Student Hearings Committee shall be held.

    Before final action on a grievance, the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Law School (or the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs) may impose any appropriate measure on an interim basis when there is reasonable cause to believe that such action is needed for the health, safety, or welfare of the student or other members of the law school community or to avoid disruption to the academic process. Notice shall be given expeditiously of action hereunder. Where interim measures are imposed, the grievance process shall proceed in an expedited manner.

    Except as provided above, the parties to the grievance shall maintain the status quo and no services shall be removed or additional obligations imposed before final action on a grievance is taken.

  1. Formal Resolution
    To institute a formal grievance, the student shall file a written grievance with the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Law School (or the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, if the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Law School is a party in the grievance). The grievance will then be forwarded to the Student Hearings Committee (“the Committee”).

    Within a reasonable amount of time prior to the hearing, the student and the respondent shall be given a brief statement of the factual basis of the grievance, the law school policies or regulations in regard to the matter, and written notice of the time and place of the hearing.

    The student and the respondent shall have the opportunity to present documents and witnesses and to confront and cross-examine witnesses.

    The Committee shall make an adequate record of the hearing by written memorandum, tape recording, or otherwise.

    The hearing shall be closed unless the student requests that it be open.

    The Committee shall render an expeditious written decision which shall include findings of fact, conclusions, and, if appropriate, remedies.

    The Committee shall have the discretion to prescribe its procedures for matters not addressed herein. For example, the Committee may require that oral evidence be taken only on oath or affirmation and/or that any relevant evidence be admitted if it is the sort of evidence on which responsible people are accustomed to rely in the conduct of serious affairs, regardless of the existence of any common law or statutory rule that might make improper the admission of the evidence over objection in civil actions.

    The Committee may seek independent testimony from experts whether or not the parties presented testimony from experts at the hearing.

  2. Appeal to the Dean
    An aggrieved student may appeal the decision of the Student Hearings Committee to the Dean of the School of Law in writing within 10 days of the date of the decision.

    On appeal, the Dean shall review the written decision of the Committee. The Dean may affirm or reverse or modify the panel’s decision. The Dean shall issue a written decision affirming, overruling, or modifying the decision of the Committee. A copy shall be sent to the student and the members of the Committee. If the Dean overrules or modifies in any respect the decision of the panel, his or her written decision shall include the reasons for the modification of the decision of the panel. The decision of the Dean is final.

  1. Expedited Grievance Procedures
    Expedited grievance procedures shall be utilized where there is a time-sensitive grievance, for example, a dispute over exam accommodations for a student with a disability or matters related to an impending bar examination. In addition, any grievance may be designated for expedited grievance process by the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Law School or the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

    The informal resolutions process of expedited grievances shall be concluded within three days of the filing of the grievance. If the matter is not resolved informally within that time, the matter shall be referred to a hearing. The Student Hearings Committee shall be convened within seven days of the referral for hearing. If, because of the timing of the appeal, the Committee members are not available, the Dean of the School of Law shall have authority to appoint alternative faculty members to the Student Hearings Committee.

    The panel shall issue a decision within seven days after conclusion of the hearing. Any appeal to the Dean shall be made within three days of the date of the decision of the Panel. The Dean shall issue a written decision within five days of the appeal.


Service Animals

Definitions

  1. Service Animal: GGU adopts the definition of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which defines a service animal as “… any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability. The work or tasks performed by a service animal must be directly related to the individual’s disability. However, the crime deterrent effects of an animal’s presence and the provision of emotional support, well-being, comfort, or companionship do not constitute work or tasks.” (28 C.F.R. § 36.104)

  1. Approved Service Animal: An approved service animal is a service animal that has been approved as an accommodation for a specific student by Student Affairs, Law School after review of documentation submitted by the student.

  1. Emotional Support Animal:  An animal that that provides emotional support, well-being, comfort or companionship but does not perform work or tasks for a person with a disability. (See number 1, above.) Emotional support animals do not qualify as service animals under state or federal law.

Policy

Visitors to the University who have disabilities may be accompanied by their service animals in all areas of the University to which the general public is invited.

A student who wishes to request the use of a service animal in classes and elsewhere on campus as an accommodation for a disability is required to request and receive approval pursuant to the procedure for requesting disability accommodations described in the Disability Services section of this Handbook.

An approved service animal is allowed to accompany a student at all times and in all campus locations, except where service animals are prohibited due to health or safety restrictions or where they may be in danger. Exceptions to restricted areas may be granted on a case-by-case basis by contacting Student Affairs, Law School, which will make the final decision.

Because they are not service animals under state or federal law, emotional support animals do not qualify as and will not be approved as an accommodation.

Request for Approval of a Service Animal as an Accommodation

To request approval for a service animal as an accommodation, a student must follow the procedure for requesting all accommodations, as described in the “Disability Services & Policy” section of this Handbook. The student must also provide proof that the service animal is properly vaccinated and licensed, pursuant to local and state laws.

Responsibilities of Persons Who Bring Service Animals to the Golden Gate University Campus

  1. Care for and supervise the service animal. GGU is not responsible for the care or supervision of service animals. (28 C.F.R. § 36.302(c)(5))

  2. Maintain control of the animal. Service animals must have a harness, leash, or other tether, unless the handler is either unable because of a disability to use a harness, leash, or other tether, or the use of a harness, leash, or other tether would interfere with the service animal’s safe, effective performance of work or tasks. In such case, the service animal must be otherwise under the handler’s control (e.g., voice control, signals, or other effective means). (28 C.F.R. § 36.302(c)(4))

  3. Ensure the clean-up of all animal waste.

  4. Ensure that each service animal has all legally required vaccinations.

  5. Take financial responsibility for any property damage caused by the service animal. (28 C.F.R. § 36.302(c)(8))

Removal of Service Animals

A person with a disability can be asked to remove his or her service animal from the premises if the animal is out of control and the animal’s owner does not take effective action to control it, or if the animal is not housebroken. (28 C.F.R. § 36.302(c)(2)). If the behavior persists, the person with a disability may be told to refrain from bringing the animal onto University property until the problem is remedied. Service animals that are in ill health and/or pose a health and safety risk to others are not permitted on University property.


POLICY ON ABSENCES DUE TO MEDICAL CIRCUMSTANCES AND STUDENT REQUESTS FOR DISABILITY-RELATED ACCOMMODATIONS IN ATTENDANCE OR CLASS PARTICIPATION

Adopted by Faculty 03/11/2008

Absences Due to Medical Circumstances

If a student misses a class due to a medical appointment or other medical circumstance and would like to request that the absence be excused, that student should provide relevant documentation of such occurrence to Student Affairs, Law School. Once documentation is received, Student Affairs will email the student’s instructor(s) confirming receipt of documentation. Instructors are not required to excuse medical absences and may choose to apply their standards for attendance to all absences.

Student Requests for Disability-Related Accommodations in Attendance or Class Participation

It is the law school’s policy that enrolled students who have disabilities shall be provided reasonable accommodations and auxiliary aids and services to the extent necessary to comply with state and federal laws. For each student, these accommodations and auxiliary aids and services will specifically address those functional limitations of the disability that adversely affect equal educational opportunity. Furthermore, these adjustments or accommodations will be provided in the most integrated setting appropriate to the student’s needs.

While the law school will strive to accommodate students as fully as possible, reasonable adjustments or accommodations do not include measures which fundamentally alter the academic program of the law school.

Students with physical or mental disabilities may request accommodations such as modification of course attendance or class participation requirements. This policy addresses how faculty should address disability related requests for such accommodations.

Included below are (1) the procedural steps that students must take with Student Affairs and (2) background information for faculty on the standards to apply in assessing whether a reasonable accommodation can be provided. Each request for accommodation must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, using a “deliberative process” and considering the disability involved and the nature of the course requirements.

Procedural Steps for Approving Attendance- or Participation-Related Accommodations

If a student contacts a faculty member requesting accommodation in attendance or class participation requirements, the faculty member should direct the student to request the accommodation promptly with the Assistant Director, Disability Resources and Academic Accommodations at lawds@ggu.edu. The procedures for addressing such an accommodations request are as follows:

  1. As soon as the student thinks he or she may need an accommodation in the form of an alteration in the course attendance or class participation requirements, the student must submit medical documentation to Disability Resources explaining the need for the requested accommodation.

  2. The Assistant Director will confirm that the student has provided sufficient documentation of disability and requested accommodation from an appropriate professional, and that the disability directly affects or is likely to affect the student’s ability to attend or participate in class on a regular basis.

  3. The student will provide a list of professors to contact. The Assistant Director will email the listed professors, identifying the student and the requested accommodation(s). The letter will inform the professors of the obligation to keep the student’s information confidential. Professors shall participate in a deliberative process with Disability Services about the request and how best to address it, considering appropriate factors, including factors identified by the US Office of Civil Rights.

  4. From the date of the letter to the professors, professors have ten days to inform the Assistant Director of their decisions regarding accommodations. However, professors are encouraged to communicate a decision as soon as possible to minimize limitation of students’ enrollment options. These decisions should be in writing and shall specify the maximum number of absences that will be allowed as accommodation and/or what modification of class participation requirements will be provided. The decision shall clearly describe any supplemental work that will be required in response to alterations in attendance or class participation requirements. If the accommodation is denied, the reasons for denial of the accommodation request shall be explained.

  5. The Assistant Director will inform the student of the professors’ decisions within two working days of receipt of the response.

  6. If the student has any questions about or disagreements with the decision, the student can request a meeting with the Associate Dean for Student Affairs, Law School and the professor(s). This meeting will take place within two weeks of the request for meeting.

  7. If an agreement cannot be reached, the student may file a grievance pursuant to the Grievance Policy in the Disability Policies section of the Student Handbook.

Factors That Professors Should Consider In Evaluating Requests for Accommodation once the Assistant Director informs the professor(s) that a student has a documented disability that directly affects or is likely to affect the student’s ability to attend or participate in class as required, the professor(s) should consider the factors below in determining whether the attendance and course requirements can be modified to accommodate the student. The professor(s) should engage in a deliberative process and consider whether the requested accommodation would result in a fundamental alteration of the educational program.

Each professor should consider the following factors, identified by the U.S. Office of Civil Rights (OCR), to help determine whether attendance or class participation is fundamental to the course in question:

  • Is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students, and among students?

  • Do student contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process?

  • Does the fundamental nature of the course rely upon student participation as an essential method for learning?

  • To what degree does a student’s failure to attend constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?

  • What does the course description and syllabus say?

  • What is the method by which the final course grade is calculated?

  • What are classroom practices and policies regarding attendance?

In some cases, attendance is fundamental to course objectives. For example, students may be required to interact with others in the class, to demonstrate the ability to argue critically, or to participate in group projects. In other instances, faculty may determine that students can master course content despite some or many absences, and that alternatives are available to students needing accommodation. Alternatives might include individual meetings with the professor or teaching assistants, taping of classes, time controlled email procedures in lieu of class participation, or use of other remote learning tools available to the disabled student. Rarely, faculty may decide that students do not need to attend classes at all.

Cases which have reached the OCR or the courts have generally upheld a university’s determination that, in certain professional programs, class attendance and interaction were essential to the teaching program and the university was not required to lower or effect substantial modifications of academic standards by automatically excusing disability related absences as an accommodation. (See, e.g., Maczaczyj v. New York, 956 F.Supp. 403, 11 NDLR ¶ 59 (W.D.N.Y. 1997) (upholding the requirement of in-person residency and finding that participation by phone constituted fundamental alteration of program.); Metropolitan State College (CO), Case No. 08-98-2013, 15 NDLR ¶ 92 (OCR Region VIII 1998) (upholding the accounting department’s refusal to relax attendance policy after engaging in deliberative process and concluding such would result in fundamental alteration based on program); Cabrillo Community College (CA), Case No. 09-96-2150 (OCR Region IX 1996) (essentiality of attendance decided on case-by-case basis in light of class requirements and methodology; when attendance is not essential, college should consider taping classes).

There are, however, situations in which it may be appropriate to alter attendance or class participation policies.

Example 1: A first year student in a large lecture-based class has a speech impairment which is intensified when speaking in front of large groups. His disability makes it difficult to successfully participate in class discussions and to be assessed in a similar way to other students. Because this class is a large lecture, his participation will not largely impact his classmates’ learning. In this situation, it is important that the instructor consider the purpose of classroom participation and how frequently and for how long the average student participates. Based on the function and frequency of participation, the instructor may decide that the student should visit the instructor several times during the term to discuss course content for a specified amount of time, or that the student write half page summaries of one aspect of the reading several times during the term. In contrast, if this student were enrolled in Trial Advocacy, the accommodation of one-on-one discussions or written responses might fundamentally alter the nature of the course. It might be possible to accommodate the student’s disability creatively in this class with other assignments such as drafting written witness preparation questions and written direct and cross examination questions, but most likely, Trial Advocacy is a class for which the requested accommodation-waiving the public speaking requirement-could not be granted because of the content of the course and the necessity for students’ participation to educate one another.

Example 2: A student has a seizure disorder which flares up infrequently. Although the student does not expect to be absent from class more than the standard number of allowable absences, it is important the instructor decide how she will to address this situation if it should arise. The student can sense the seizure before it comes on and will stay home in a safe environment if she is aware of a seizure coming on. This student is taking a class that involves both lecture and discussion but the class has more than 30 students enrolled. It will not negatively impact the other students’ education for this student to be absent. The professor feels that, if the student maintains the reading and receives a copy of course notes from the classes missed, the student will be able to stay on top of the work. For all classes missed, the student must write a short response to a discussion question provided by the instructor or tape record a discussion response.

Accommodation requests must be evaluated on a case by case basis. While there need not be a uniform policy of excusing attendance and/or participation, genuine efforts should be made to find alternatives that ameliorate attendance and participation issues for students with demonstrated need for accommodation. The OCR’s approach implicitly recognizes that disability related absences do not necessarily need to be excused, but it also indicates that faculty must be prepared to justify why class attendance or participation are integral to the pedagogic process. In considering requests for changes in attendance requirements, faculty should also review ABA Standard 311 (see Attachment).

Faculty should pay careful attention to possible claims of differential treatment. Occasionally, a professor has a strict attendance policy on paper but has modified it for others. It is important that professors look beyond the course syllabus and consider actual practice and any exceptions the professor may have made, either to his or her own policy or that of the law school, especially for non-disabled students.

Regardless of the outcome, the deliberative process should be well-documented, so that others who were not involved in the process can understand the alternatives considered and the reasons for the final decision.

Attachment to Appendix A

ABA Standard 206. Diversity And Inclusion

  1. Consistent with sound legal education policy and the Standards, a law school shall demonstrate by concrete action a commitment to diversity and inclusion by providing full opportunities for the study of law and entry into the profession by members of underrepresented groups, particularly racial and ethnic minorities, and a commitment to having a student body that is diverse with respect to gender, race, and ethnicity.

  2. Consistent with sound educational policy and the Standards, a law school shall demonstrate by concrete action a commitment to diversity and inclusion by having a faculty and staff that are diverse with respect to gender, race and ethnicity.

Interpretation 206-1:
The requirement of a constitutional provision or statute that purports to prohibit consideration of gender, race, ethnicity or national origin in admissions or employment decisions is not a justification for a school’s non-compliance with Standard 206. A law school that is subject to such constitutional or statutory provisions would have to demonstrate the commitment required by Standard 206 by means other than those prohibited by the applicable constitutional or statutory provisions.

Interpretation 206-2:
In addition to providing full opportunities for the study of law and the entry into the legal profession by members of underrepresented groups, the enrollment of a diverse student body promotes cross-cultural understanding, helps break down racial, ethnic, and gender stereotypes, and enables students to better understand persons of different backgrounds. The forms of concrete action required by a law school to satisfy the obligations of this Standard are not specified. If consistent with applicable law, a law school may use race and ethnicity in its admissions process to promote diversity and inclusion. The determination of a law school’s satisfaction of such obligations is based on the totality of the law school’s actions and the results achieved. The commitment to providing full educational opportunities for members of underrepresented groups typically includes a special concern for determining the potential of these applicants through the admission process, special recruitment efforts, and programs that assist in meeting the academic and financial needs of many of these students and that create a favorable environment for students from underrepresented groups.

ABA Standard 207. Reasonable Accommodation for Qualified Individuals with Disabilities

  1. Assuring equality of opportunity for qualified individuals with disabilities, as required by Standard 205, requires a law school to provide such students, faculty and staff with reasonable accommodations consistent with applicable law.

  2. A law school shall adopt, publish, and adhere to written policies and procedures for assessing and handling requests for reasonable accommodations made by qualified individuals with disabilities.

Interpretation 207-1:
Applicants and students shall be individually evaluated to determine whether they meet the academic standards requisite to admission and participation in the law school program. The use of the term “qualified” in the Standard requires a careful and thorough consideration of each applicant and each student’s qualifications in light of reasonable accommodations. Reasonable accommodations are those that are consistent with the fundamental nature of the school’s program of legal education, that can be provided without undue financial or administrative burden, and that can be provided while maintaining academic and other essential performance standards.

 ABA Standard 311. Academic Program and Academic Calendar

  1. A law school shall require, as a condition for graduation, successful completion of a course of study of not fewer than 83 credit hours. At least 64 of these credit hours shall be in courses that require attendance in regularly scheduled classroom sessions or direct faculty instruction.

  2. A law school shall require that the course of study for the J.D. degree be completed no earlier than 24 months and, except in extraordinary circumstances, no later than 84 months after a student has commenced law study at the law school or a law school from which the school has accepted transfer credit.

  3. A law school shall not permit a student to be enrolled at any time in coursework that exceeds20 percent of the total credit hours required by that school for graduation

  4. Credit for a J.D. degree shall only be given for course work taken after the student has matriculated in a law school. A law school may not grant credit toward the J.D. degree for work taken in a pre-admission program.

Interpretation 311-1

  1. In calculating the 64 credit hours of regularly scheduled classroom sessions or direct faculty instruction for the purpose of Standard 311(b), the credit hours may include:

    1. Credit hours earned by attendance in regularly scheduled classroom sessions or direct faculty instruction;

    2. Credit hours earned by participation in a simulation course or law clinic in compliance with Standard 304;

    3. Credit hours earned through distance education in compliance with Standard 306; and

    4. Credit hours earned by participation in law-related studies or activities in a country outside the United States in compliance with Standard 307

  2. In calculating the 64 credit hours of regularly scheduled classroom sessions or direct faculty instruction for the purpose of Standard 311(b), the credit hours shall not include any other coursework, including, but not limited to:

    1. Credit hours earned through field placements and other study outside of the classroom in compliance with Standard 305;

    2. Credit hours earned in another department, school, or college of the university with which the law school is affiliated, or at another institution of higher learning;

    3. Credit hours earned for participation in co-curricular activities such as law review, moot court, and trial competition; and

    4. Credit hours earned by participation in studies or activities in a country outside the United States in compliance with Standard 307 for studies or activities that are not law-related.

Interpretation 311-2
Whenever a student is permitted on the basis of extraordinary circumstances to exceed the 84-month program limitation in Standard 311(c), the law school shall place in the student’s file a statement signed by an appropriate law school official explaining the extraordinary circumstances leading the law school to permit an exception to this limitation. Such extraordinary circumstances, for example, might include an interruption of a student’s legal education because of an illness, family exigency, or military service.

Interpretation 311-3
If a law school grants credit for prior law study at a law school outside the United States as permitted under Standard 505(c), only the time commensurate with the amount of credit given counts toward the length of study requirements of Standard 311(b). For example, if a student has studied for three years at a law school outside the United States and is granted one year of credit toward the J.D. degree, the amount of time that counts toward the 84 month requirement is one year. The student has 72 months in which to complete law school in the United States