ILNews

Conison taking helm of young law school

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.•
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. I have been on this program while on parole from 2011-2013. No person should be forced mentally to share private details of their personal life with total strangers. Also giving permission for a mental therapist to report to your parole agent that your not participating in group therapy because you don't have the financial mean to be in the group therapy. I was personally singled out and sent back three times for not having money and also sent back within the six month when you aren't to be sent according to state law. I will work to het this INSOMM's removed from this state. I also had twelve or thirteen parole agents with a fifteen month period. Thanks for your time.

  2. Our nation produces very few jurists of the caliber of Justice DOUGLAS and his peers these days. Here is that great civil libertarian, who recognized government as both a blessing and, when corrupted by ideological interests, a curse: "Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become ‘ravenous,’ as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A Man For All Seasons (1960), p. 120. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show: ‘MORE: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to Paradise for doing according to your conscience, *575 and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? ‘CRANMER: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas? ‘MORE: I don't know, Your Grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one. ‘CRANMER: Then the matter is capable of question? ‘MORE: Certainly. ‘CRANMER: But that you owe obedience to your King is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty—and sign. ‘MORE: Some men think the Earth is round, others think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the King's command make it round? And if it is round, will the King's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.’ Id., pp. 132—133. DOUGLAS THEN WROTE: Where government is the Big Brother,11 privacy gives way to surveillance. **909 But our commitment is otherwise. *576 By the First Amendment we have staked our security on freedom to promote a multiplicity of ideas, to associate at will with kindred spirits, and to defy governmental intrusion into these precincts" Gibson v. Florida Legislative Investigation Comm., 372 U.S. 539, 574-76, 83 S. Ct. 889, 908-09, 9 L. Ed. 2d 929 (1963) Mr. Justice DOUGLAS, concurring. I write: Happy Memorial Day to all -- God please bless our fallen who lived and died to preserve constitutional governance in our wonderful series of Republics. And God open the eyes of those government officials who denounce the constitutions of these Republics by arbitrary actions arising out capricious motives.

  3. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  4. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  5. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

ADVERTISEMENT