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Conison taking helm of young law school

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Jay Conison had been planning to step down as dean of the Valparaiso University Law School, but his decision to lead another law school was an unexpected opportunity and one that will keep him focused on changing legal education.

Conison has been named the dean of the Charlotte School of Law, a private school in Charlotte, N.C. His last day at Valparaiso will be March 15 and he will take the helm at Charlotte a month later on April 15.
 

newton Conison

His attraction to the Southern school was fueled by the emphasis the institution has put on giving students hands-on experience. He pointed to the school’s newest building on the edge of the downtown area that will house most of the law school’s legal clinics and be an incubator for recent graduates going into solo practice. Young alumni will be able to rent office space and have access to administrative services and a library as well as have a mentor available to call upon for assistance.

In addition, he noted, Charlotte is revamping its curriculum to adapt to how today’s students learn and has invested resources into helping students gain stronger skills in such areas as writing, studying and organization.

“It’s a very innovative school,” Conison said. “It has significant potential for real leadership in education.”

As dean at Valparaiso, Conison oversaw construction of a second building to accommodate the law school’s growing clinical and skills education. Participation in the clinics has been increasing with more than 120 third-year students applying for 90 positions this year.

The curriculum revision underway at Valparaiso will continue even when Conison is gone.

“I think the changes we’ve made are pretty much faculty-driven,” said David Vandercoy, professor of law and director of the Clinical & Skills Training Programs. “Faculty are changing the curriculum. Faculty took responsibility for it, and the faculty have overwhelmingly embraced more skills training as part of the curriculum.”

In the announcement of Conison’s new appointment, Valparaiso University President Mark Heckler noted the hallmarks of the dean’s years of service.

“Dean Conison created a learning environment benefiting the Valpo community,” Heckler stated. “He increased diversity of the faculty, staff and student body; oversaw construction of Heritage Hall, the Lawyering Skills Center for the Law School; and through his leadership ensured a high level of service to students, faculty, staff and alumni. We are grateful for his contributions and wish him success in his new leadership role.”

New program, new school

Prior to his even considering the Charlotte position, Conison said he had notified Heckler that he intended to step down in May 2014.

He said he was not actively seeking a new position but, in conversations with Charlotte officials, he found he shared a great deal of commonality with the school, especially in the area of how a law school could be run most effectively.

“What I enjoy doing most is helping to lead an organization to be more effective and successful in serving its constituents and helping people who are part of that organization gain satisfaction from what they do,” Conison said. “That’s why I enjoyed working at Valparaiso and why I stayed here so long.”

He said Charlotte provides more opportunity for doing that. It is a new program and new school. Consequently, the school does not have many entrenched practices. The faculty is receptive to experimentation and trying new ways of delivering legal education services.

The Charlotte School of Law opened in 2006 and received provisional approval by the American Bar Association two years later, then became accredited in June 2011. The school is a for-profit that is part of the InfiLaw System consortium of law schools. Other institutions in the system are Florida Coastal School of Law and Phoenix School of Law.

InfiLaw’s mission, according to its website, is focused on excellence in professional education. It does this, in part, by working to graduate students who are practice ready.

Conison’s quick departure from Valparaiso is being spurred by Charlotte’s impending relocation. The North Carolina school has announced plans to move downtown, occupying 243,000 square feet.

Once at Charlotte, Conison said the top of his agenda includes getting to know the faculty and staff and getting a sense of the students. Also, he wants to familiarize himself with the new initiatives.

Conison will not be cutting all ties with Indiana. He is the reporter on the ABA’s Task Force on the Future of Legal Education which is being chaired by retired Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard.

“Over the years, I made a lot of good friends, good professional colleagues in the Indiana bar,” Conison said. “I hope to stay in touch.”

Dean searches

With Conison’s exit, Valparaiso becomes the third law school in Indiana that is actively searching for a dean.

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and Indiana University Maurer School of Law are both interviewing candidates for the top position. Conison downplayed the significance of three law schools in one state having openings for deans.

He noted that with more than 200 ABA-accredited law schools in the country and with most deans serving an average of five years, leadership positions are always becoming available.

“I don’t see any unusual number being open at this time,” he said.

Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law Dean Gary Roberts announced last summer that he would be retiring from the leadership role in June 2013. This move is in accordance with university policy that requires all deans to step down when they turn 65.

The search committee has brought “five outstanding candidates” to the Indianapolis campus for visits, according the I.U. McKinney School of Law Vice Dean Antony Page. Members of the committee expect to make a selection soon.

Indiana University Maurer School of Law’s top position became open when Lauren Robel left the dean’s office to become provost and executive vice president of I.U. in Bloomington. Hannah Buxbaum, then executive associate dean for academic affairs, was appointed as acting dean in December 2011.

The Bloomington school is still accepting applications and, to date, has hosted three candidates for campus visits, according to Patricia McDougall-Covin, professor in the I.U. Kelley School of Business and chair of the search committee. Members hope to finish the process in April.•
 

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  1. Am I the only one who sees that the City is essentially giving away the MSA site AND giving millions to build new buildings on the site when this site would be the perfect place for the Justice Complex? Across from City-County, check; keeping it centrally located, check, etc. It's my understanding that the GM site must be purchased by the City from Motors Liquidation Company. STOP WASTING WHAT WE ALREADY HAVE AND OUR TAX DOLLARS! The Ballard Administration has not been known for it's common sense...never voted for him and never will!

  2. This guy sounds like the classic molester/manipulator.

  3. Louis D. Brandeis was born in 1856. At 9 years of age it would have been 1865. The Brandeis family did not own slaves. My source Louis D. Brandeis: A Life, by Melvin L. Urofsky.

  4. My name is Matthew Lucas Major, I recently went through a jury trial in Bloomington , In. It was the week of Feb 19-21. Although I have been incarcerated since August 5, 2014. The reason I 'am writing to you sir is on the 21 of February the jury came in with a very excessive and wrongful verdict of guilty on 6 child molesting charges against my daughter who was 9 at the time I was accused. I also had 2 other Felonies one of Intimidation and 1 of Sexual Vicarious Gratification. Judge Marc Kellam on the second day of trial gave me a not guilty on those 2 felonies. The jury was sent out during that time and when brought back Judge Kellam told them to not concern themselves with the 2 Felonies that he ruled on them. They were told to not let evidence they had already heard influence there verdicts. I never in my life touched any child sexually and definitely not with my own daughter. When I was arrested Detective Shawn Karr told me I would be convicted guilty just on my daughters word even without evidence. That's just what happened. my public defender did me so wrong he never once proved to the court and jury all the lies the child told, and Jeremy Noel my public defender could of proven the lies easily. The stories in Serenity's depositions and Forensic interview changed and were not consistent as Prosecutor Darcie Fawcett claimed they were. Yet my attorney never mentioned that. The facts that the child accused me of full penetration in her vagina and rectum was proven lies. Doctor Roberta Hibbard of Riley hospital in Indianapolis confirmed Serenity's hymen intact, no scars, no tearing, no signs of rape to her. Yet my attorney didn't use that knowledge . the DNA was all in my favor. I tell you I will spend my entire life in prison going through rape and beatings etc. even Judge Kellam abused his authority by telling the jurors to listen and believe what the prosecutors side in evidence like my daughters testimony. In one interview with the detectives my daughter got flustered with her mom and said on camera " I'm saying what you told me to mom"!! Yet Mr. Noel said nor did anything to even resemble a defense attorney. Judge Kellam allowed edited version of a taped conversation between the child and her mother. Also Judge Kellam allowed the Prosecutor too bring in to my case a knife found under my seat, the knife wasn't part of my case. She was allowed by my attorney and the judge to put a huge picture of it on the screen and huge picture of my naked privates in a full courtroom and open court. Ms. Fawcett says to jury see how easy Mr. Major could reach the knife and cut his Childs throat. Even though I had no weapons charge against these cases. This gave the jurors prejudice thought against me thinking I threatened her with that knife and how scared she would of been knowing i could get it and kill her. On my sentencing court March 19, 2014 my public defender told Judge Kellam he wish to resign from being my attorney and wished for the court to give me outside council to file a error to trial or appeal. We were denied. Now after openly knowing my public defender don't want to represent me he has to. Well when as parents we make our kids clean a room when they really don't wish to, well the child will but don't mean she will do a good job, that's where I'm at with Mr. Noel. please dont ignore mine and my families pleas for your help . we have all the legal proof you could need to prove Im innocent. Please dont make my spend years in prison innocent when you can fix this wrong. Im not saying Im a perfect man or that I was a perfect dad to my 2 children none of us are. Ive made some bad choices in life and I paid for them. But I didnt ever touch or rape my daughter . I love my children with all my heart. And now through needing attention and a ex-wife who told my granny several times she wish she could put me in prison to get me out of their lives. Well my ex finally accomplished her goal. Sad part is she is destroying our daughter with all this horrific lies and things she taught my daughter to say. My daughter will need therapist to ever hope for a chance of a normal life after what she had done to her by her mom and their side of the family. My daughter told everyone even on stand she had a dream months before i supposedly molested her in this dream I was molesting her and when I finally did it matched her dream perfectly. She admitted to watching movies about little girls being molested and watching U-Tube videos about child molesting all before it happened supposedly to her. Doesn't that sound very unusual that a non molested 9 yr old would need to know so much about being molested? The only reason I could think a 9 year old would need so much information is to be prepared to know what to say and be able to say how it felt what took place etc.. So when questioned by authorities she would be prepared. And there again sir if a parent is pre grooming a 9 year old child she would need intimate details . Like telling her daughter about a couple moles on my private area. The child admitted to sneaking my cell and looking many many times at nudes of me and my girlfriend even one where my penis was entering my girlfriends vagina. In that picture my moles are obvious. Yet when prosecutor showed everyone in court my privates and pictures of the moles she said the only way the child would know about them is if she saw them for herself. My attorney once again said nothing about the pictures my child saw. Or could a ex-wife be able to describe my moles to help her case against getting rid of me? I beg you help me. This is my very existence. Ive lost everything , a good job, a wonderful girlfriend, my freedom, but worse thing Ive lost is my children. They were my reason to get up every morning and strive to be better. The wonderful bond I had with my Serenity is gone. After this I would be afraid to even hug her for fear of what next can they do to me. I'm not afraid to tell you I sit here in this cell and try to hold back my tears. Everyone knows you cant show weakness in prison. My life has already been threatened here at Wabash Valley Prison. After only 3 days of arrival. I was tricked into signing a waiver now Im in G Block General Population with 6 child molesting felony charges. Mrs. Hart as a 18 year old I almost died hooked to machines in hospital almost 1 month and now I know that fear was childish compared to this . I cant help but put emotions in this, after all Mrs. Hart Im human and God help Me I never been more afraid in my life. I didnt hurt my little girl I didnt touch her sexually. As much as it shreds me and fills my mind what Im facing I worry more about my mom and granny because of their great love for me mam they are suffering so deeply. I aint done this things but my loved ones suffering right along beside me and If you take my case you will be in essence freeing them also. I sent momma this letter and asked her to email it to you. I'm scared I have been done so unjustly by our legal system and I need you to fix this and give me freedom. I ask you please don't just ignore my pleas. Here in America its nice to be able to trust our legal justice system, well they destroyed my and my loved ones trust in our justice system . And I'm trusting in You !!! My entire family is suffering this nightmare with me. My 77 year old granny had a stroke and isn't doing so well. My single mother that raised 3 kids alone is dying from Lupus and since my arrest has stayed so sick and weary. Our lives torn to peices by a government I was taught I could trust in. my momma has tried so many innocent project and wrongfully accused and cant get anywhere. please please help me. A quote from the late Nelson Mandela: To be free is not merely to cast off ones chains, But to live in a way that respects and enhances The Freedom Of Others. I have Faith in you and your clinic to cast my chains off and give me freedom I do deserve as a wrongfully accused Man, son, brother, father, friend. Matthew Major DOC# 246179 Cause # : 53c02-1308-FA-000779 God Bless you. Please contact me with your decision so I know you made a life changing decision for me , just please at least write me so I know you care enough about your citizens to respond to cries for your help. You can speak openly with my mother Charlotte Spain (828) 476-0406: 71 Lakeview Dr. Canton, NC 28716 Thank You Matthew Major I know yall get thousands of request and inmates claiming innocence, and each person who are innocent deserve to have organizations like yours willing to fight for them and I give yall so much Thanks and I thank God everyday yall are out there caring enough to help free the innocents. Since discovering firsthand how easily lives and families can be destroyed by Poor Defense attorneys not doing their job . And Prosecutors allowed to do as they please in court

  5. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

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