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Roberts ready for last year at bat

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As dean of Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Gary Roberts has long been telling his faculty that the business model for their school would have to be revamped to address changing needs and new challenges.

But, he acknowledged, as the school’s enrollment stayed healthy even while applications to law school declined nationally, both he and the faculty became complacent. They thought they were immune to the drop in the number of students going to law schools.

roberts-gary083112-1col.jpg Dean Gary Roberts (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

That changed with the incoming class for the 2012-2013 school year. After recording an increase of 12 students in the class that started during the 2011-2012 school year, enrollment fell to 268 this year. Roberts thinks the school will be lucky to bring in another 270 next year.

For his final year in the dean’s chair, Roberts has the additional task of finding ways to cope with fewer students and lower revenues. He has ideas for a new business model as well as a new degree program that could serve the business community.

Indeed, if not for a university policy requiring deans to step down when they turn 65 years old, Roberts might not be preparing to retire as the head of the law school. Being the leader brings a lot of pressure and stress, and on a bad day he can wonder why he accepted

the position. But, he said, he has experienced more positives than negatives and has found the deanship to be fun, satisfying and enjoyable.

When he does retire as dean in June 2013, he intends to join the law school faculty where he will engage in his love of teaching.

“Being a law professor is the best job in the world,” Roberts said.

Rethinking education

Seated in a comfortable yellow chair in his office, Roberts calmly described the tightrope law schools are now walking as they try to allocate fewer resources to meet their research missions and obligations to students.

Traditionally, the business model has been to use tuition dollars to continue expanding programs and provide more compensation to faculty. With declining enrollments, law schools can no longer rely on tuition increases to fund operations and also must adjust to a smaller revenue stream.

“We’re confronted with having to make tough choices and major decisions,” Roberts said.

The national conversation about legal education has not only focused on the loan debt the students are graduating with but also on the content of the classroom. Roberts agrees that law schools need to do a better job of preparing students who are closer to being able to practice law.

However, some of the skills required of practicing attorneys, like plea bargaining, for instance, cannot be taught in a classroom, Roberts said. Instead, these skills are best presented in the real world where they are actually done.

Providing skills training can be very expensive, he noted. This adds to the necessity to change the current business model so law schools can continue to deliver good theoretical and analytical education and skills training to students on fewer dollars.

Roberts proposes law school partnering with bar associations and the legal community so they can take a greater role in teaching practice skills. Forming partnerships may also enable the school to offer real-world training without dramatically increasing the cost.

Other options to control costs and balance resources include giving the faculty heavier class loads, reducing faculty compensation, or bringing in more adjunct professors and lecturers to teach students. Roberts believes the school will likely institute a system with more part-time faculty because that will be the least painful. There will be more resistance to an increase in workload and less income.

Consequently, theoretical research will decline, Roberts said. A smaller percentage of the faculty will be doing scholarly research 10 to 20 years from now, but the standard of quality, along with the standard of tenure, will be much higher.

Roberts is an eloquent advocate for the importance of university-based research, pointing to historical examples where scholarly work changed the world.

dean_facts.jpg“Much of the great progress made in law is the product of scholarship that came out of our law schools,” he said. If law schools were to stop doing scholarship activities, that would, in the long term, be a disaster for society and the legal profession; but at the moment, schools cannot invest as much into research.

Looking ahead

Roberts became dean of the law school in 2007. Previously, he was a faculty member for 24 years at Tulane University Law School, where he built the sports law program, served as vice dean for academic affairs and deputy dean.

Reviewing his tenure at McKinney, he counts the strengthening of the school’s financial health as one of his primary accomplishments. The most notable contribution was the $24 million naming gift from Indianapolis attorney and business leader Bob McKinney.

As part of that gift, the school will be able to establish five endowed chairs to attract and retain nationally recognized scholars to the faculty. Each chair will be endowed with $1.5 million from the McKinney gift to which the university will add a matching $1.5 million, creating what Roberts called “super chairs.” The law school is raising funds to complete the endowment for the first two chairs, and Roberts hopes to be able to fill the chair in intellectual property this year.

Looking ahead to his final year in the dean’s office, Roberts noted he does not want to institute major policy changes that his successor would then have to implement. Still, he does intend to keep the school moving forward.

One initiative he is eyeing would be to lay the groundwork for starting a master’s degree program in legal studies. Students graduating from this potential course of study would not be eligible to sit for the bar exam, but they would acquire a knowledge of the law which would be useful as they pursue careers in business or with a nonprofit organization.

Roberts said the proposal is a little controversial because some lawyers contend this would create low-cost competition at a time when many in the legal profession are struggling with unemployment. But, he said, short-term worries about a tight job market are not reason enough to table this program.

He believes the proposal could get faculty approval before he retires. However, the work to get approval from the university administration and the state will likely not be done before he leaves the dean’s office.

If baseball calls

Early in his career, Roberts clerked in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit in San Francisco before he joined the firm of Covington & Burling LLP in Washington, D.C. There, by happenstance, he fell into sports law. In the years since, he has become a national expert in the field.

From his experience in private practice and in the classroom, Roberts maintains teaching is “a heck of a lot more fun.” He will teach once he retires as dean, unless, he noted, something unexpected happens like an offer to be the Major League Baseball commissioner.

“I’d take it,” Roberts said.•

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  1. 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.

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  5. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

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