- Indiana Tech Starts Work on New Law School- The Indiana Institute of Technology will begin construction immediately on a $15 million building to house its new law school on the Fort Wayne campus, The National Law Journal reports. According to the founding dean Peter Alexander, with the law school on campus there will be “many more opportunities for the law school community to interact with the rest of the campus and vice versa.” The law school will be the seventh school within a three-hour drive of Fort Wayne, which leads many to question if it’s really necessary. Apparently, according to a feasibility study, Indiana is considered “underserved by lawyers.” The school also plans to focus on practical skills, and “they envision numerous clinical offerings, including an estate-planning clinic that will advise Indiana Tech employees.” A reaction from Above the Law: “Prospective students paying nearly $30,000 in tuition (for an unaccredited school) and doing free legal work for faculty/staff. Gotta give the school credit for this business model.” The school is slated to open in the fall of 2013 with an inaugural class of 100 students.
- Passage Rates for California Bar- Results from the July California bar exam were released, with an overall pass rate of 67.7% for all takers, and 76.2% for those from ABA-accredited law schools. While test takers from Stanford Law still maintained an 88.9% passage rate, the highest rate was from USC Law, with a rate of 91.1%. Thomas Jefferson School of Law, which has already not made a great name for itself recently, had the lowest rate, 33.3%. As Above the Law put it, “TJSL charges people $40,100 per year in tuition, and two out of three graduates failed the bar the first time around. No wonder this school is getting sued.” Go to the site to check out the full list of accredited California schools and their passage rates.
- Ambiguity of Legal Education Reform- At the recent annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools, many focused on changes in legal education. As The National Law Journal reports, hundreds of law professors and administrators are working on revamping their curricula, attempting to achieve “the correct balance between traditional and practice-based courses and debating which skills to teach in light of the broad range of careers their graduates pursue.” Yet, these changes don’t occur overnight, as many schools are merely adding an extra clinic here or there to up their practical training. And while it’s important to take into account what skills Big Law and corporate clients need, most law grads work in small firms, nonprofits, government, or solo practice—and some even as nonlawyers. It’s therefore not so clear-cut determining which skills are essential for law students to learn. And the traditional, broad curriculum still has its benefits; thus, a delicate balance needs to be maintained. Plus, these innovations cannot succeed without the support from the legal hiring market, since “achieving sweeping reform would be difficult until legal employers create incentives by hiring students from these innovative programs.” All facets of the legal community must work together for real, lasting change to transpire.
- Judge to Head New Texas Law School- Judge Royal Furgeson Jr., of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, has been appointed the dean of the new University of North Texas Dallas College of the Law. As reported by The National Law Journal, the school will be the only public law school in north Texas, and is slated to open in August 2014. As to why Furgeson would take this position in these “tough economic times, when tuition is rising and demand for lawyers is declining,” he responded, “the prospect of pioneering a new law school that addresses these issues head-on was too challenging and exciting to pass up.”
- Drop in Law School Applications- While still early in the admissions cycle, as of January 13, the total number of applicants to ABA-approved law schools has dropped 16.7 percent from last year. Applications have dropped by 15.3 percent. These figures were confirmed to the ABA Journal by the LSAC. Since it is still early—“the number of applicants at this time last year represented about 48 percent of the ultimate count”— the numbers can “change considerably.” Yet if they continue in this direction, this trend reveals more awareness on the part of prospective applicants. As Above the Law asks, “Could it be that prospective law students are finally paying attention?”
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