UNT Accreditation in Limbo


In 2016, the American Bar Association informed university leaders that it would not grant accreditation to the University of North Texas Dallas College of Law. The news was devastating and threatened the very existence of the law school that had opened its doors just two years before and was preparing to graduate its very first class the next year. The UNT System and the law school’s leadership turned to Androvett for guidance on how to handle the crisis.

First Steps

UNT Dallas College of Law is unique and doesn’t cater to your typical law student. Its founding mission is to make legal education accessible to minority, female, and low-income students. To fail before it even got off the ground would have been a profound and highly public setback, attracting news coverage from outlets such as The Dallas Morning News and The Wall Street Journal.

A threshold issue to resolve: Could the matter be handled behind closed doors with no accompanying publicity?

Our answer was a resounding NO. We believed that attempting to solve this problem outside the public eye would have ensured the school would fail. We also believed that this challenge was an opportunity to show that the UNT Dallas College of Law was a different kind of institution where transparency and collaboration were core principles.

In addition, advances in communications technology, including social media, worked against any strategy to “keep a lid” on what the ABA was intending. No, in this case, keeping things secret was not going to work and was contrary to the values of the law school, teachers and administrators. The law school had a commitment to the community and its supporters, not to mention the faculty and students, to be as open and honest as possible.

So, we made openness and honesty our watchwords. Many people would have questions, and our job was to help provide the framework for the school to answer as many of them as it could. In so doing, we believed we could help UNT Dallas College of Law reassure supporters and convey to the ABA that it was serious about addressing any perceived weaknesses in its accreditation application.

Official Statements

As part of the accreditation process, the ABA had previously visited the school and in its interim report voiced some concerns, including the low LSAT scores of some of its applicants and the law school’s perceived inability to fundraise.

Yet, the decision not to grant accreditation came as a surprise. Law school leaders, including then-Dean Royal Furgeson, felt that existing data and the performance of current students at UNT Dallas College of Law demonstrated the necessary strength and academic excellence required for accreditation. So, we respectfully and calmly took the case to the community, by revealing that accreditation had been denied and explained the law school’s plans to appeal.

Our outreach also immediately targeted current students and applicants to reassure them that the school was taking necessary steps to protect their future careers. Official statements had to strike just the right tone, assuring the college’s stakeholders and the ABA alike that a plan was in place to address concerns and that the school was taking this situation seriously. In addition, we helped the university pen a letter to the ABA laying out all the issues it had raised, and how the law school planned to address each one.

Media Outreach

The law school was fielding media requests as soon as the news broke. We helped UNT manage those requests and made sure the reporters had all the information they needed. We also facilitated a meeting between school leadership and the editorial board of The Dallas Morning News, which then wrote an op-ed making the school’s case as a building block of the local community. This was instrumental in keeping public sentiment on the school’s side, as well as maintaining the support of government officials from across the state who later would ensure the school received the necessary funding.

Town Hall

Students, faculty, and members of the legal community had many questions about what was happening, and the school needed to make itself available to answer them.

We organized a town hall where students and others could submit their questions – either in person or on Twitter – to leadership. The event was live-streamed, so that those who could not attend in person could still watch and learn. We assisted law school leaders with media training to help them best articulate context, response, and future planning. This allowed them to ensure their message was unified, clear, and easy to understand.


The UNT Dallas College of Law’s efforts paid off and the school received provisional accreditation from the ABA in 2017. In February 2022, the school received full accreditation from the American Bar Association.

From the very beginning, we had total confidence the school could make its case and lay out an effective argument for accreditation. But we knew that argument’s success depended in large part on not only what we said, but also how we said it. If the community believed that the law school deserved accreditation and was taking the situation seriously, while transparently looking out for its students, it had a much greater chance of success.

It worked, and each year the school has strengthened the Dallas community by helping individuals who otherwise might have been turned away. We are proud of its prominent place in the North Texas legal community and honored to have helped the UNT Dallas College of Law in its time of need.

Are you ready to get started?