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Dean's Desk: Notre Dame Law in Chicago shows promise

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newton DeanChicago is the No. 1 destination for Notre Dame Law School graduates, followed closely by Washington, D.C., New York City and Los Angeles, with Indianapolis rounding out the top five. But while many NDLS students plan to practice law in a major metropolitan area, until recently there were limited opportunities for them to explore and experience what it is actually like to practice law in a big city.

The Notre Dame Law in Chicago program helps address that need by allowing NDLS students to spend a full semester living and working in the Windy City. All participants work four days a week in an externship placement. Since the program was launched last fall, our students (some of whom have an Illinois student practice license, commonly known as a 711 license) have prosecuted felony and juvenile criminal cases, represented indigent clients in immigration and family law matters, clerked in judicial chambers, mediated civil cases, and developed environmental regulations, all while completing their related course work. While many of the externships are in agencies and nonprofits, Bob Jones, the associate dean for Experiential Programs, is working to place students in corporate counsel offices and financial regulatory agencies as well.

While our Chicago students earn academic credits for their field placements, they also participate in a weekly seminar taught in Chicago by Dean Jones. The seminar is designed to help students maximize the learning from their externships by helping them reflect on ethics questions and their own professional development. Students also must earn additional academic credits through course work that is not associated with the externship.

After a successful first year, we have decided to take the program to the next level by building it a new home in the heart of the Loop. We are in the process of remodeling and furnishing office and classroom space on the second floor of the Motorola Building (the former Santa Fe building). When the doors to this fully renovated space open in the fall of 2013, faculty and students will find office space, a conference room and a 40-person classroom equipped with the latest distance-learning technology.

We recently completed a successful experiment in distance learning when our students in South Bend participated in an international law class that was being taught in our London Law Center. Enabling our South Bend students to share the same classroom experience that is being enjoyed by our Chicago program students will open up more opportunities for students in both locations.

Connecting our Chicago and South Bend classrooms will enable us to recruit adjunct professors to teach courses in niche areas that are important to developing areas of practice. Most of our relatively small number of adjunct professors hail from nearby South Bend. A few Chicagoland attorneys have even been willing to commute to South Bend in order to teach our students on campus. Our Chicago presence, however, will enable us to expand our specialty course offerings. When we no longer have to insist that every adjunct professor make the round trip to South Bend in order to teach a class for Notre Dame, we will be better able to tap into the deep pool of experienced Chicago attorneys in a wide variety of practice areas.

We will share the Motorola Building space with Notre Dame’s College of Engineering and College of Science. For example, the Master of Science in Patent Law (MSPL) program (a venture of the Law, Science and Engineering colleges), and ESTEEM (the Engineering, Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Excellence Masters Program) are also planning to introduce programs in Chicago. All of our on-campus partners, including the College of Arts and Letters, will be able to join us in using the site for panels and small conferences, giving us an opportunity to introduce more Notre Dame programs and faculty to our many Chicago alumni.

I have great expectations for our school’s new move into the Windy City. When NDLS students can fully experience the beautiful Notre Dame campus while taking additional courses as they are being taught in our Chicago classroom, they will have the best of both worlds. And when NDLS students can learn what it is like to practice law in a major metropolitan area before making the commitment to move there permanently, they will be better able to make an informed decision about the direction they would like their careers to take. The Law in Chicago program shows a great deal of promise. I will keep you posted on how it develops.•

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Nell Jessup Newton is The Joseph A. Matson Dean and Professor of Law at Notre Dame Law School. She has served as dean since 2009. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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  1. 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)

  2. "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.

  3. 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.

  4. When I hear 'Juvenile Lawyer' I think of an attorney helping a high school aged kid through the court system for a poor decision; like smashing mailboxes. Thank you for opening up my eyes to the bigger picture of the need for juvenile attorneys. It made me sad, but also fascinated, when it was explained, in the sixth paragraph, that parents making poor decisions (such as drug abuse) can cause situations where children need legal representation and aid from a lawyer.

  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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