Western State University College of Law, the county’s largest and oldest, will break ground today for a new library, a key step as it prepares to seek accreditation from the American Bar Assn.
The law school, a private, for-profit institution in Fullerton, was denied accreditation 10 years ago. School officials say the new library will help meet ABA demands that any institution seeking accreditation have a large law library.
The current 112,000-volume library will grow to nearly 400,000 volumes and will add computers and other high-tech equipment designed to make its 1,106 students “better prepared to practice law in the next century,” Dean Dennis R. Honabach said.
To prepare for the ABA approval process, which the 30-year-old school will begin this fall, the curriculum also has been reworked to strengthen basic lawyering skills, such as drafting legal briefs and crafting arguments.
ABA approval would allow graduates to seek licensing in any state and would place the school, which has educated more than 1 in 4 of the county’s 10,000 lawyers, among the most respected in the nation.
Only one ABA-accredited school operates in the county: Whittier Law School, which will open in August in Costa Mesa after relocating from Los Angeles.
The 180 ABA-accredited schools nationwide include only one for-profit school, Thomas Jefferson School of Law in San Diego, which broke from Western State last year. The move coincided with the merger of Western State’s Fullerton and Irvine campuses, which school officials said would enhance ABA prospects.