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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. 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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