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Dean's Desk: Blend of theory and practice will make Tech Law unique

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alexanderIn August of this year, Indiana Tech Law School opened its doors in Fort Wayne with a commitment to changing the way legal education prepares students. Despite the national news reporting that there are too many law schools and not enough jobs and the Internet blogs criticizing all new start-ups as a waste of a student’s money, Indiana Tech Law School was established, in part, to respond to the criticism that law schools are not adequately training students to become effective legal professionals.

The bench and the bar have been asking the Legal Academy for years to change the ways in which they prepare students for success in law or in whatever career path they may choose. Many schools have not taken that request seriously and, today, we see a shrinking national applicant pool and some law schools shrinking the sizes of their entering classes.

When my colleagues and I are asked why Indiana needs a fifth law school, we focus on how our school will be different from the hundreds of other institutions already in existence. For us, the answer is simple. We are committed to blending theory and practice from the very start of law school through experiential and collaborative learning. To that end, we have a number of innovative programs to give our students more confidence and more practical experience before they graduate.

Each of our law students will be mentored by a member of the Allen County bench and bar and the mentor will stay with their student through all three years of law school. Over 70 judges and lawyers have signed up to serve as mentors and several have told me that their mentees have already been in touch with them. Each mentor is asked to meet with his or her law student twice each semester, take the student to at least one networking event each year, and allow the student to shadow them on occasion. We suggest that the mentors meet with the students over a meal on occasion and invite their mentees to spend time with them on a boring day as well as when something exciting is happening.

The innovations continue in the curriculum as well. “Tech Law” requires all students to complete three courses in ethics and professionalism, with two courses being offered in the very first year of law school. In addition, every student must complete 30 hours of pro bono legal service as a condition of graduation. In their second and third years, every student will be able to work in either an in-house legal clinic or in an externship program to gain additional practical skills. Moreover, for students who are concentrating their studies in a particular field, we have created opportunities for them to spend one of their two last semesters in law school in a full-time “semester-in-practice” placement, working 40 hours per week for academic credit. This immersion into a particular field should give our students a minimum of four months of practical experience, prior to graduation, in addition to any summer experiences that they might have.

We also intend to share most of our classrooms with our colleagues in the practice of law. In every required course and in half of all the electives taught each semester, the faculty will give up 2 to 4 hours in each of their classes to invite a judge or an attorney to share real-life problems relating to the material that the class just covered. We think that applying history and theory to current situations will also help the students better prepare for life in the practice. During each guest’s visit, the professor will work with the judge or lawyer to create a written exercise for the students to complete so that, by the end of their three years in law school, each student will have a portfolio of written work to present to a prospective employer.

In my criminal law course this semester, we studied strict liability offenses (those crimes that don’t require the government to prove a mental state in addition to an act) and we reviewed cases that challenged the validity of strict liability offenses as being void for vagueness and/or overbroad. We invited an Allen County deputy prosecutor into the class to discuss how law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office view strict liability offenses, then he challenged the students to craft an ordinance banning people walking around with their pants sagging below their underwear. The students accepted the challenge and spent a lot of time discussing and writing what might seem to some as very simple legislation. The prosecutor returned to our class and discussed the students’ efforts with them. It was a great practical exercise for the students. In addition, I reviewed all of their submissions and gave them feedback on their written work.

To be sure, Tech Law is not turning legal education upside down, but everyone is committed to taking the best practices from around the country, bringing them together in one comprehensive program, and making them available to every law student. With our partners in the practice and on the bench, our law school plans to educate a new generation of lawyers who will be better prepared than any other students from any other school.

At Indiana Tech, we are trying to respond to the changing landscape by forming real and meaningful partnerships with those who are engaged in the practice of law and in other professions where a law degree might be very helpful. With their help, we believe that we will prepare the next generation of lawyers for success in law, leadership and life.•

__________

Peter C. Alexander became the founding dean of Indiana Tech Law School on Jan. 9, 2012. He served as a member of the faculty at the Southern Illinois University School of Law from 2003 until January 2012, and he served as dean of the law school from 2003 until 2009. Alexander received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Southern Illinois University Carbondale and his Juris Doctor from Northeastern University in Boston.
 

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  • Unneeded
    Indiana does not need another law school. This school will impoverish its graduates, who will owe $150-200k in student loans and earn $40-50k (maybe) upon graduation. Don't believe the law school industry if you're thinking about applying. Do some heavy research. The Los Angeles Times recently featured a USC law graduate who owes $215k and lives at home with his parents. Do prospective students think an Indiana Tech grad is going to fare better than a USC grad? This school will rob young people of their future and their lives in order to enrich the faculty and staff. Stay away.

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  1. OK, take notice. Those wondering just how corrupt the Indiana system is can see the picture in this post. Attorney Donald James did not criticize any judges, he merely, it would seem, caused some clients to file against him and then ignored his own defense. James thus disrespected the system via ignoring all and was also ordered to reimburse the commission $525.88 for the costs of prosecuting the first case against him. Yes, nearly $526 for all the costs, the state having proved it all. Ouch, right? Now consider whistleblower and constitutionalist and citizen journalist Paul Ogden who criticized a judge, defended himself in such a professional fashion as to have half the case against him thrown out by the ISC and was then handed a career ending $10,000 bill as "half the costs" of the state crucifying him. http://www.theindianalawyer.com/ogden-quitting-law-citing-high-disciplinary-fine/PARAMS/article/35323 THE TAKEAWAY MESSAGE for any who have ears to hear ... resist Star Chamber and pay with your career ... welcome to the Indiana system of (cough) justice.

  2. GMA Ranger, I, too, was warned against posting on how the Ind govt was attempting to destroy me professionally, and visit great costs and even destitution upon my family through their processing. No doubt the discussion in Indy today is likely how to ban me from this site (I expect I soon will be), just as they have banned me from emailing them at the BLE and Office of Bar Admission and ADA coordinator -- or, if that fails, whether they can file a complaint against my Kansas or SCOTUS law license for telling just how they operate and offering all of my files over the past decade to any of good will. The elitist insiders running the Hoosier social control mechanisms realize that knowledge and a unified response will be the end of their unjust reign. They fear exposure and accountability. I was banned for life from the Indiana bar for questioning government processing, that is, for being a whistleblower. Hoosier whistleblowers suffer much. I have no doubt, Gma Ranger, of what you report. They fear us, but realize as long as they keep us in fear of them, they can control us. Kinda like the kids' show Ants. Tyrannical governments the world over are being shaken by empowered citizens. Hoosiers dealing with The Capitol are often dealing with tyranny. Time to rise up: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jan/17/governments-struggling-to-retain-trust-of-citizens-global-survey-finds Back to the Founders! MAGA!

  3. Science is showing us the root of addiction is the lack of connection (with people). Criminalizing people who are lonely is a gross misinterpretation of what data is revealing and the approach we must take to combat mental health. Harsher crimes from drug dealers? where there is a demand there is a market, so make it legal and encourage these citizens to be functioning members of a society with competitive market opportunities. Legalize are "drugs" and quit wasting tax payer dollars on frivolous incarceration. The system is destroying lives and doing it in the name of privatized profits. To demonize loneliness and destroy lives in the land of opportunity is not freedom.

  4. Good luck, but as I have documented in three Hail Mary's to the SCOTUS, two applications (2007 & 2013),a civil rights suit and my own kicked-to-the-curb prayer for mandamus. all supported in detailed affidavits with full legal briefing (never considered), the ISC knows that the BLE operates "above the law" (i.e. unconstitutionally) and does not give a damn. In fact, that is how it was designed to control the lawyers. IU Law Prof. Patrick Baude blew the whistle while he was Ind Bar Examiner President back in 1993, even he was shut down. It is a masonic system that blackballs those whom the elite disdain. Here is the basic thrust:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackballing When I asked why I was initially denied, the court's foremost jester wrote back that the ten examiners all voted, and I did not gain the needed votes for approval (whatever that is, probably ten) and thus I was not in .. nothing written, no explanation, just go away or appeal ... and if you appeal and disagree with their system .. proof positive you lack character and fitness. It is both arbitrary and capricious by its very design. The Hoosier legal elites are monarchical minded, and rejected me for life for ostensibly failing to sufficiently respect man's law (due to my stated regard for God's law -- which they questioned me on, after remanding me for a psych eval for holding such Higher Law beliefs) while breaking their own rules, breaking federal statutory law, and violating federal and state constitutions and ancient due process standards .. all well documented as they "processed me" over many years.... yes years ... they have few standards that they will not bulldoze to get to the end desired. And the ISC knows this, and they keep it in play. So sad, And the fed courts refuse to do anything, and so the blackballing show goes on ... it is the Indy way. My final experience here: https://www.scribd.com/document/299040062/Brown-ind-Bar-memo-Pet-cert I will open my files to anyone interested in seeing justice dawn over Indy. My cases are an open book, just ask.

  5. Looks like 2017 will be another notable year for these cases. I have a Grandson involved in a CHINS case that should never have been. He and the whole family are being held hostage by CPS and the 'current mood' of the CPS caseworker. If the parents disagree with a decision, they are penalized. I, along with other were posting on Jasper County Online News, but all were quickly warned to remove posts. I totally understand that some children need these services, but in this case, it was mistakes, covered by coorcement of father to sign papers, lies and cover-ups. The most astonishing thing was within 2 weeks of this child being placed with CPS, a private adoption agency was asking questions regarding child's family in the area. I believe a photo that was taken by CPS manager at the very onset during the CHINS co-ocerment and the intent was to make money. I have even been warned not to post or speak to anyone regarding this case. Parents have completed all requirements, met foster parents, get visitation 2 days a week, and still the next court date is all the way out till May 1, which gives them(CPS) plenty of to time make further demands (which I expect) No trust of these 'seasoned' case managers, as I have already learned too much about their dirty little tricks. If they discover that I have posted here, I expect they will not be happy and penalized parents again. Still a Hostage.

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