In 2011, when Indiana Tech announced it was going to open a law school in Fort Wayne, Indiana for no good reason, Indiana Tech President Arthur Snyder said that access to legal education in Indiana was a big reason for opening the fifth law school in the state: “There are potential students who desire a law school education who cannot get that education in this area, and there are people in our state who need legal services who don’t have access to them.”
This was always an incredibly weak argument. Now, as Indiana Tech is set to welcome its first starting class, we have some measure of proof that those 2011 prognostications were as incorrect as everybody knew they’d be in 2011….
Indiana Tech Law School Dean Peter Alexander gave an interview to the Indiana Lawyer that is just a fun look into all of the different ways the new law school has tried to peddle its wares. Here’s my favorite exchange:
“Lots of people, as they learn more about us, realize that we are truly trying to be different so it’s not just another law school,” Alexander said. “It’s a school that’s trying to blend theory and practice in a different way, to prepare students in a new way. I think people are beginning to hear the message.”
Classes are scheduled to begin Aug. 26 with orientation starting Aug. 21. The inaugural class is expected to have 30 students, below the school’s original goal of 100, but Alexander attributed the numbers to the nationwide dip in law school enrollment.
It sounds like “lots of people” are realizing that a “new approach” to theory and practice isn’t worth squat when you are unemployed just like everybody else. It’s honestly ridiculous that we’re in 2013 and law deans are still trying to sell this old saw about blending theory and practice. The “message” that people are trying to hear are the ones about jobs, not some BS about the third-year curriculum.
In any event, I think 30 students out of the desired 100 perfectly illustrates how little the people at Indiana Tech thought about the market for legal education before pushing this law school through. Did they really ask “should we,” or did they just ask “could we”? The school seats 350 students in total, but they’re opening with just 30.
I feel sorry for the 30. I feel sorry that they will take all the online criticism of how their school is taking advantage of them as a personal attack. And I feel sorry that their school has something like this:
The school will also boast a curated art collection. Beginning July 27, the paintings, historical photographs and courtroom sketches will be hung around the building.
Alexander said having the art was not part of the original plans. However, the law school has been receiving gifts of art focusing on law themes, patriotism, courts and justice that has grown into a collection of “very significant and very expensive pieces.”
With a grant, the law school has hired a curator and, according to Alexander, will be only the second law school in the country with a curated art collection.
It is a joke to be opening up a new law school in 2013. As far as we know, there are only 30 people in the country who fell for it. That, my friends, is progress.