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Puerto Rico Law School: First Hurricanes, Then This

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By William Vogeler, Esq. on October 15, 2018 11:53 AM

If you think your law school was hard, think about what happened at the University of Puerto Rico School of Law.

Hurricane Maria tore through the island territory last year, and officials still don't know how many people died there. The death toll is almost five times higher than the student population at the law school.

It's no wonder that the law school has had trouble keeping students. But it is hard to understand how the American Bar Association could cite the school for substandard performance.

Double Trouble

The ABA said the law school is not complying with standard 309(b), which requires schools to give students "a reasonable opportunity to complete a legal education program." The ABA Journal reported that academic support has been a concern.

"Our law students are among the best and more able to complete their legal studies and find a professional job," said associate dean William Vázquez Irizarry. "However, we are well aware of the challenges students and law graduates are facing due to the economic and fiscal situation in Puerto Rico."

In the aftermath, he said the university worked with five mainland law schools to offer students alternatives. They were able to take a limited course load of seven credits, free of charge.

That wasn't enough to stay above ABA water, however. The association has asked the law school to explain its substandard performance.

Two Hurricanes

Hurricane Irma slammed the campus in September, but Hurricane Maria hit before it could reopen. A lesser institution would not have survived.

Vazquez Irizarry said the law school has already moved to improve educational services and resources. He said administrators are taking "concrete actions."

For students at most law schools, that would be more academic support. In Puerto Rico, that could include shelter from the storms.

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