New director takes over at ABA law school accrediting unit

The reins of the American Bar Association’s legal education arm officially changed hands earlier this month, as veteran law school dean Jennifer Rosato Perea assumed the role of managing director of ABA accreditation and legal education.

Rosato Perea, who most recently served as dean of DePaul University College of Law in Chicago, began her new job on June 1. She replaces Bill Adams, who retired this spring after four years as managing director and a long career in legal education.

“It is an honor for me to begin serving as managing director of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, especially during this time in legal and higher education,” Rosato Perea said. “I look forward to working with the council, staff and other stakeholders to ensure quality in legal education and engage on issues of concern to all of us, including academic freedom, on-line education and preparation for practice.”

The council, or governing board of the section which has more than 15,000 members, is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education as the sole national accreditor of 197 law schools. In that role, the council serves as an independent arm of the ABA.

In the coming months, the council will be faced with making decisions on changes involving several standards, including learning outcomes and tenure and security of position, as well as to revising the diversity and inclusion standard in light of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in June 2023 striking down race-based college admission policies. Then council also will be studying standards changes that would be needed to accredit fully online law schools.

Besides council and section responsibilities, Rosato Perea also will be responsible for managing ABA relations with other legal education organizations and the U.S. Department of Education. Having served 16 years as a law dean, she is a longtime advocate of student engagement and professionalism and was one of only a small number of Latina law school deans in the nation. In her current job, Rosato Perea is the first woman to serve as head of ABA legal education.