An Accredited law school is a law school that has been approved by the state and the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), the American Bar Association (ABA), or both.
An ABA approved law school provides a legal education that meets a minimum set of standards promulgated by the Council and Accreditation Committee of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar. The ABA Standards for the Approval of Law Schools assures that students who attend ABA-approved law schools receive a sound program of legal education. The ABA makes no representations about the quality of the legal education offered at non-approved law schools.
All states recognize graduation from an ABA-approved law school, because it satisfies the legal education requirements that a person must meet to be eligible to sit for the bar examination. In many states, a person may not sit for the bar examination unless that person holds a J.D. degree from an ABA-approved law school. Each state sets its own criteria for eligibility to take the bar examination or to otherwise qualify for bar admission.
However, individuals who graduate from provisionally approved schools are considered by the ABA to be students attending an ABA-approved law school. Most states follow the policy that it does not matter if the school was not approved when the student first enrolled in the school or the school loses its approval subsequent to an individual’s graduation.
A total of 200 institutions are ABA-approved, as of June 2008. Nine of these 200 law schools are provisionally approved.