Florida A&M University has picked a founding dean for its College of Law in Orlando in large part for his expertise in law-school accreditation.

On Tuesday, FAMU President Frederick Humphries announced that Percy R. Luney Jr., 52, will lead the new law school set to open in Orlando in the fall of 2002.

Luney is a past president of a national college for judges in Reno, Nev., and a past law dean at a historically black university in North Carolina. He also helps the American Bar Association conduct law-school accreditation reviews.

His ABA activity made him an irresistible choice for FAMU, also a historically black university. FAMU hopes to gain quicker ABA accreditation than the torturously drawn-out process that Barry University School of Law is enduring in Orlando.

Until a law school is accredited, its graduates cannot practice law in Florida.

Luney has assisted the ABA in 10 law-school accreditation reviews.

"My primary vision is accreditation," he said. "That's your focus for any new law school."

FAMU plans to open a law school office in Orlando this summer.

Luney was chosen over finalists Bryan Adamson, an associate law dean at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and James Douglas, former president and former law dean at Texas Southern University in Houston. FAMU's search reviewed 17 applicants.

Luney will be paid $195,000, which would make him the highest-paid person at FAMU.

Luney said founding a law school gives him the chance to shape it entirely to his vision, though he would not elaborate on that vision Tuesday.

"You don't get very many opportunities to build a law school from the ground up and hire all your own faculty," he said. "This is a real opportunity to put a faculty on the cutting edge."

Last fall he stepped down after two years as president of the National Judicial College to write a book. Before that, he spent 18 years at North Carolina Central University School of Law in Durham, the last four as dean. He also taught at the Duke University School of Law.

"I believe he'll have immediate acceptance into our community, because he is such an international scholar and has the academic knowledge a new school needs," said Orlando Mayor Glenda Hood. "I cannot think of our being better positioned to open a new law school than having a dean like Percy Luney."

He earned his law degree from Harvard in 1974. He has what he conceded is an unusual combination of law specialties -- Japanese law and environmental law -- and he has taught law in Japan several times. He also has conducted environmental research in several African countries.