Law School Deans, Law Schools

Dean Of New Law School Gets Emotional, Mangles Shakespeare, Doesn’t Mention Tuition

Indiana Tech, a new law school in Indiana, had its opening ceremonies the other day. Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook of the Seventh Circuit was there. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller was there. And of course new law dean Peter Alexander was there.

And boy did Alexander get feisty. Indiana Lawyer says that Alexander got “emotional” when welcoming his new students and defending the existence of this new law school. He called his law faculty “courageous,” and told the students “you don’t know how good you are or how great you’re going to be.”

Then he took aim at the “media” that has been questioning why the hell Indiana needs another law school. Alexander’s passionate and literary defense neglected to mention the fact that Indy Tech expects people to pay $48,160 per year to live and study in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Nor did he mention any plan to help these soon-to-be-great kids get jobs at the end of the school’s courageous course offerings.

But apparently, people at Indy Tech Law are “trying their best,” so asking students to engage in some critical thinking is just mean…

Indiana Lawyer reports these amazing statements from Dean Alexander:

He also had strong words for the critics who have questioned the wisdom of starting another law school and launched personal attacks.

“You see, people may write things about us,” Alexander said. “They may blog about us. They might even insist that they know where we are coming from and what really we are about. I can’t do anything about that and neither can you. Their slings and arrows are crafted in the darkness of ignorance and they take aim in the green eye called envy. But I’m really not worried about those people. I have a higher calling.”

To be clear, I do not claim to know where Alexander is coming from and have no comment about the “higher calling” of a freaking law school dean. I have, however, actually read Shakespeare, so it’s a little annoying to see a guy using Wikiquote and autofill to write his speeches. The thing about slings and arrows is that you can OPPOSE them. You can take arms against your sea of troubles. You don’t have to sit there and suffer paying $48K to go to law school in Indiana just because you had the outrageous fortune of scoring poorly on the LSAT. There are other options.

Meanwhile, might I suggest: “That cuckold lives in bliss, Who, certain of his fate, loves not his wronger.” Somebody is cheating you, Indy Tech students. Maybe the metaphorical handkerchief of “media bias” doesn’t mean what Alexander tells you it means.

With the Bard out of the way, Alexander continued:

“So when people tell you about the law school and speculate about what we are doing or when they surmise that we have launched this effort with an improper or impure motive, would you please just do me one favor?” Alexander asked the audience. “Just tell them that everyone at Indiana Tech Law School is giving their very best.”

Easterbrook also picked up on this happy-clappy, “try your best” language when he spoke:

“Some new entrants fail, some succeed gloriously,” he said. “We cannot know which is which without trying. Indiana Tech is trying. Three cheers for those why try new ways.”

Are the students at Indiana Tech Law seven years old? Will their J.D.s come with gold stars? Can they pay back their loans with a list of good intentions? NO? Well then allow me to retort.

I agree with Easterbrook that we “cannot know” which innovative approach will succeed without trying. However, I think we can all be pretty sure that taking out $150,000 to go to an unranked and provisionally accredited law school is a HORRIBLE FREAKING IDEA. The evidence is in on that point. If you are paying full price at Indy Tech Law, you’ve already FAILED to “try your best” to minimize your educational costs. The first class at UC Irvine went there for free. If you’re paying anything approaching full price at Indy Tech Law, I award you ZERO CHEERS.

Moreover, while this aspect of the “experiment” hasn’t fully played out, it’s probably a bad idea to hire a dean who is hostile to the notion that there should be jobs for his graduates. That’s right, I said hostile. Over the summer, he gave this completely unsupported statement to the Fort Wayne Journal & Gazette:

Alexander is the dean of the newly created law school at Indiana Tech. And after a new set of statistics came out this month, showing again that there are, perhaps, more lawyers than needed, Alexander was again asked about it.

He is adamant: It’s not about the number of job openings versus the number of law school graduates. It’s about the quality of the law school graduate.

And Indiana Tech’s new law school will turn out high-quality graduates, making them necessities in any market, he said.

The problem here isn’t that Alexander is wrong (I mean, he’s clearly wrong — there are lots of schools that are turning out “high-quality” graduates who still can’t get jobs). The problem is that Alexander offers that statement with absolutely zero evidence or research to back that up. He wants Indy Tech Law students to take that on faith, at $48,000 a year (of which about $30K is straight tuition and the other $10K are living expense and fees), that Indy Tech can churn out quality graduates that employers will snap up, yet he offers no evidence that employers actually need new graduates of any quality. He seems to get angry when you ask him to show one shred of positive job placement evidence.

It’s no skin off of his nose, of course. Indy Tech is going to get your money whether you end up employed or not. Sorry, they’re going to take your money whether you end up as a “high-quality graduate” who still can’t get a job, or a low-quality graduate who can’t get a job.

Easterbrook closed with this logical puzzle:

Easterbrook recalled a legal education panel discussion during the 7th Circuit Bar and Judicial Conference held in March in Indianapolis. The panel members agreed that law schools were too expensive and not providing enough hands-on experience.

However, Easterbrook pointed out, offering legal clinics, which teach the practical how-to of legal work, costs schools more than classroom teaching.

He concluded by saying there are those who would say “Indiana Tech has set an impossible goal. But I say the only way to create new possibilities is to try. Doing the impossible just takes some extra effort. More power to you.”

No. Noooo. Doing the impossible IS IMPOSSIBLE. That’s what that word means! Alexander likes using quotes out of context, so let me trying one: “Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

The truth here is that Indy Tech is charging people a lot of money without any evidence that its approach will work out for students. Enter at your own, massive, risk.

Easterbrook applauds Indiana Tech Law School for trying new approach [Indiana Lawyer]
Will jobs be there for law school grads? [Fort Wayne Journal & Gazette]

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