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UNT Dallas Law School Dean Makes The Case For National Accreditation

UNT Dallas College of Law
UNT Dallas opened its law program in 2014.

The University of North Texas at Dallas has been trying to build a different kind of law school -- one that’s more affordable and targets diverse and non-traditional students. 

That effort took a hit this week, though, when the school learned it might not get national accreditation from the American Bar Association.

Royal Furgeson, a former federal judge, is the dean of the UNT Dallas College of Law. He says his program has been in line with what the ABA is asking for.  

Interview Highlights: Royal Furgeson…

…On what UNT Dallas will do if they don’t get accreditation:

“Of course, we’re going to do everything we can to get accreditation. We have a hearing before the accrediting body in October, but if that is unsuccessful, the next thing we’ll do is petition the Texas Supreme Court, who is in charge of law student admission into the bar. We’ll petition them and ask them if they’ll allow our students into the bar.”

…On the school taking students with low LSAT scores:

Credit Krystina Martinez / KERA News
Royal Furgeson is a former federal judge. He's now the dean of the UNT Dallas College of Law.

“We understand some of those LSAT scores are low, but even the ABA accreditors say ‘don’t look at LSAT scores alone. Look at other factors that would indicate grit, determination, resilience to get through law school.’ So actually, we’re doing what they say.”  

…On whether the state needs another law school:

“I think Texas needed another law school – a law school like ours. Texas certainly didn’t need a law school like all the other laws schools. If that was the case, I certainly wasn’t interested in this job anyways. The state of Texas saw an opportunity to let us do something different, so they let us come. We’ve got to do something to make sure modest means people and small businesses get lawyers. And people say, ‘there are too many lawyers.’ Well, there may be too many lawyers but they’re all kind of situated in the wrong place. We need lawyers everywhere. This is a great challenge, and we need to address it.”  

Royal Furgeson is the dean of UNT Dallas College of Law.

Former KERA staffer Krystina Martinez was an assistant producer. She produced local content for Morning Edition and She also produced The Friday Conversation, a weekly series of conversations with North Texas newsmakers. Krystina was also the backup newscaster for the Texas Standard.
Rick Holter was KERA's vice president of news. He oversaw news coverage on all of KERA's platforms – radio, digital and television. Under his leadership, KERA News earned more than 200 local, regional and national awards, including the station's first two national Edward R. Murrow Awards. He and the KERA News staff were also part of NPR's Ebola-coverage team that won a George Foster Peabody Award, broadcasting's highest honor.