American Bar Association / ABA, Law Schools

Potential President of Binghamton University Makes Sense When Asked About Founding a New Law School

Binghamton University — best known as the alma mater of the great Tony Kornheiser — is looking for a new president. They are in the process of interviewing a number of candidates, and one of those candidates is a lawyer. Jonathan Alger is the senior vice president and general counsel at Rutgers, and he’s on Binghamton’s shortlist.

Just as importantly, Alger sits on the American Bar Association Accreditation Committee. Naturally the people at Binghamton asked him if he would start a new law school if he took over Binghamton.

Since the man’s on the Accreditation Committee, I’m sure conflicts check flags are going up all over the place. But Alger’s answer may surprise you…

During a Q&A session with Binghamton students and faculty, Alger addressed the new law school issue head-on:

Perhaps the most direct question from a faculty member: “When would you start building a law school?”

Alger, who sits on the American Bar Association’s Accreditation Committee, which oversees the accreditation of the nation’s law schools, didn’t give a date but said he could certainly help facilitate the conversation. The conversation, he said, wouldn’t be easy.

“I think you have to ask those hard questions about the timing, about the strategy and about the identity (of the law school),” Alger said.

“To say ‘we think it’d be nice to have a law school’ — that’s not good enough.”

You feel like that answer is almost in direct response to the president of the University of Delaware, who wants a new law school to take Delaware to the next level of American higher education.

Of course, Alger didn’t rule out starting a new law school. I mean, the man wants the job and law schools make money for universities.

But this coming Monday, you have a chance to get Alger’s back and maybe encourage everybody to think a little bit more critically about the proliferation of law schools in this country. The people at the Law School Transparency project reminded us that this Monday, the ABA committee that oversees the questionnaire law schools must submit to the ABA, is having its meeting. Back in October, we told you that this is one of the committees that could actually force law schools to report meaningful employment statistics and other information.

The LST has already put together a detailed proposal for the committee to consider. Check it out here. There’s no harm in sending it along to Art Gaudio, the Dean of Western New England College School of Law who chairs the committee. Maybe if he sees the document enough times, he’ll at least consider some of these proposals?

The meeting takes place at the Ft Lauderdale Westin, on Monday. If you happen to be down there, let us know how it goes.

Either way, the ABA seems to be moving in the right direction on this issue. We’ve moved well beyond the point of mere professional protectionism. Right now, all anybody wants the ABA to do is to ensure some minimum standards of quality and honest representations by American law schools. Is that really too much to ask? Is it really too much to hope for that law schools are simply honest with law students about the value of a legal education? Is it really a big deal to expect university presidents to understand that “wanting” a new law school isn’t a good enough reason to start a new law school?

The ABA might be moving too slowly, but it is moving. People will have to keep the pressure on the organization if they want to see real change.

BU candidate says law school, growth have to be done strategically [Press Connects]

Earlier: University of Delaware Starts the New Law School Process
The ABA Is Slowly Coming Around on Law School Transparency

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