ILNews

Indiana Tech dedicates law school, answers critics

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Amid much pomp and circumstance, Indiana Technical Institute welcomed its new law school by reiterating its vision of legal education, praising its students and faculty, and pushing back against critics.

The Fort Wayne college held a special dedication ceremony Sept. 14 as part of its annual alumni reunion Warrior Weekend. Indiana Tech faculty, students, alumni and members of the Fort Wayne community filled the gymnasium of the Schaefer Center for the hour-long dedication of the law school and investiture of the dean, Peter Alexander.

15col Indiana Tech President Arthur Snyder (left) formally invests Peter Alexander as dean of the law school during the dedication ceremony Sept. 14. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller (far left) and Katherine S. Broderick, dean of the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, applaud. (Photo courtesy Steve Linsenmayer)

Guest speakers helping to commemorate the legal institution’s opening were 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller along with Katherine Broderick, dean of the David A. Clarke School of Law.

During his address, Alexander called his faculty, “courageous scholars,” and became emotional as he told the law students, “you don’t know how good you are or how great you’re going to be.”

Law school faculty along with the students were seated in the front among the other dignitaries. The inaugural class is small – significantly smaller than the law school’s much-publicized goal of enrolling 100 – which has only added fuel to the raging criticism surrounding Indiana’s fifth law school.

Yet, Indiana Tech 1L David Felts said after meeting the faculty and touring the facility, his decision to attend the new school was a “no-brainer.”

“I always knew in the back of my mind I wanted to go to law school,” the 2010 Indiana University-Bloomington graduate said. “I think it was perfect timing, perfect setting and perfect situation that Indiana Tech came about.”

Whenever Alexander spoke about the law school prior to its opening, he detailed the clinics, internships and mentor programs that, he said, would teach students the nuts and bolts of practicing law. He emphasized the curriculum again in his dedication speech, saying the school will blend theory and the history of law with practice right from the beginning of the students’ education.

His address also contained strong words for the critics in the blogosphere who have relentlessly questioned the wisdom of starting another law school and launched personal attacks.

“You see, people may write things about us,” Alexander said. “They may blog about us. They might even insist that they know where we are coming from and what really we are about. I can’t do anything about that and neither can you. Their slings and arrows are crafted in the darkness of ignorance and they take aim in the green eye called envy. But I’m really not worried about those people. I have a higher calling.”

The audience was supportive, applauding and giving standing ovations.

Alexander continued that the Indiana Tech administration and faculty have cast their lot with him to make law school more relevant, more rewarding and more affordable.

“So when people tell you about the law school and speculate about what we are doing or when they surmise that we have launched this effort with an improper or impure motive, would you please just do me one favor?” Alexander asked the audience. “Just tell them that everyone at Indiana Tech Law School is giving their very best.”

Also attending the ceremony were representatives from law schools around the country including Harvard, Washington & Lee, University of Georgia, Wake Forest and Case Western Reserve University.

Representing Indiana law schools were Frank Motley, assistant dean of admissions at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, and John Robinson, associate professor of law at Notre Dame Law School.

Both Easterbrook and Zoeller described Indiana Tech Law School as blazing a different path in legal education. They focused their addresses on the school’s curriculum and its proposal to infuse classroom learning with hands-on experience.

“This bold new approach with its roots in our earlier legal traditions has great promise,” Zoeller said. “By teaching law students only how to ‘think like a lawyer,’ we have left it to others to teach the new lawyers how to ‘act like a lawyer.’ The oath of a lawyer requires that we serve our clients’ interests first, above our own interests or those of our partners or our law firm’s interests. And yet for many, the training of how to ‘act like a lawyer’ is left to the very firms and partners whose interests have become paramount in our modern day practice.”

Easterbrook opened his remarks by acknowledging the two questions many had: Why open a new law school when there are so many already, and why is he lending his support to Indiana Tech?

The answer to both questions, he said, was that Indiana Tech presented competition and competition that comes from trying new things and seeing what works is a core value of the University of Chicago where he teaches part time.

“Some new entrants fail, some succeed gloriously,” he said. “We cannot know which is which without trying. Indiana Tech is trying. Three cheers for those who try new ways.”

After the ceremony, Felts’ classmate Shawn Good remembered Easterbrook’s words about competition.

Good, a native of Chicago, enrolled in the new school over the objections of his friends who bluntly called him an idiot and moron for attending Indiana Tech. He interpreted the criticism lobbed by his friends and by others as fear because, he said, they see the Fort Wayne school as a threat, providing more competition and better training its students.

“I’ve got a lot of family in the legal profession,” Good, a graduate of Southern Illinois University Carbondale, said. “This is a different feel and a different style of learning. I think it’s going to benefit all of us.”

Neither Felts nor Good are strangers to the legal profession. Felts is the son of Allen Circuit Judge Thomas Felts and Good’s father and older brother are both attorneys.

While the decision to enroll in Indiana Tech was easy for Felts, who said his father has been a strong proponent of the law school, the decision-making process for Good entailed his father cross-examining and vetting the faculty and staff. In the end, he said, his dad thought attending the new school would be risky, but the risk would come with high rewards.

One major risk is that the new law school must receive accreditation from the American Bar Association. Some speakers drew attention to Indiana Tech Law School’s challenge of gaining ABA approval and its need to apply for provisional accreditation next year. Indiana does not allow graduates of unaccredited law schools for sit for the bar exam.

Felts and Good said if the school does not get provisional accreditation, they would leave. However, they quickly added they were confident the ABA will give its approval, especially since Indiana Tech has made such an investment in faculty and the facility, and since Alexander has experience on the ABA accreditation committee.

The classmates are also confident they are being well trained in law. They said their classes are demanding but credited what they described as an “extremely attentive” faculty with helping them learn.

“I have never been to a school where I felt the faculty cared so much,” Good said.•

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. Im very happy for you, getting ready to go down that dirt road myself, and im praying for the same outcome, because it IS sometimes in the childs best interest to have visitation with grandparents. Thanks for sharing, needed to hear some positive posts for once.

  2. Been there 4 months with 1 paycheck what can i do

  3. our hoa has not communicated any thing that takes place in their "executive meetings" not executive session. They make decisions in these meetings, do not have an agenda, do not notify association memebers and do not keep general meetings minutes. They do not communicate info of any kind to the member, except annual meeting, nobody attends or votes because they think the board is self serving. They keep a deposit fee from club house rental for inspection after someone uses it, there is no inspection I know becausee I rented it, they did not disclose to members that board memebers would be keeping this money, I know it is only 10 dollars but still it is not their money, they hire from within the board for paid positions, no advertising and no request for bids from anyone else, I atteended last annual meeting, went into executive session to elect officers in that session the president brought up the motion to give the secretary a raise of course they all agreed they hired her in, then the minutes stated that a diffeerent board member motioned to give this raise. This board is very clickish and has done things anyway they pleased for over 5 years, what recourse to members have to make changes in the boards conduct

  4. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  5. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

ADVERTISEMENT