2013 was a busy year for the state’s law schools, which now total five. Indiana Tech Law School opened in August, welcoming 30 students – far less than the target goal of 100 students in the inaugural class. Indiana Tech held a special dedication ceremony for the law school Sept. 14. Since Indiana Tech voted in 2011 to open a law school in Fort Wayne, some have questioned whether the state needs a fifth law school in the midst of a legal jobs market some consider saturated.
“You see, people may write things about us,” Dean Peter Alexander said to the crowd at the ceremony. “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.”
Joining the celebration were guest speakers 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. Easterbrook addressed attendees, praising Indiana Tech for trying new ways of presenting legal education. Alexander has defended criticism of the law school by saying the offering of a blend of theory and practice will make the school unique.
Easterbrook also took swipes at the American Bar Association and traditional legal education for taking a one-size-fits-all approach. He advocated that choosing the appropriate model for teaching future lawyers should be left to clients, or an evaluation service like the magazines Consumer Reports or U.S. News & World Report rather than the ABA.
“The one-size-fits-all approach has been the bane of legal education,” Easterbrook said. “We need many sizes for the many different career paths.”
Indiana Tech constructed a new three-story building for the law school, which includes a curated art collection. According to Alexander, Indiana Tech Law School is only the second law school in the country to have such a collection.
The school has the capacity to hold 350 students and includes 28 faculty offices.
But Indiana Tech didn’t dominate law school headlines this year; three of the four existing law schools in Indiana were searching for deans in 2013. Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Valparaiso University Law School, and Indiana University Maurer School of Law introduced their new leaders this year. Andrew Klein, a professor at IU McKinney School of Law, was tapped to take over for Gary Roberts, who retired as dean of the Indianapolis law school because he reached the mandatory retirement age of 65. Andrea D. Lyon, a professor at DePaul University College of Law in Chicago, was appointed in November as dean at Valparaiso Law. She starts in June 2014. Austen Parrish, who served as interim dean and CEO at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles, began his tenure as dean at IU Maurer School of Law Jan. 1.
Klein took over as IU McKinney’s dean July 1. He was on faculty at the law school for 13 years at the time of his appointment. Lyon is a well-known criminal defense expert who has written about her experience in a book and blogged for the Huffington Post.
The three take on the role of dean at a time when the legal education model is coming under fire. Law school enrollment across the country is declining and critics constantly point to the high cost to attend school and the sluggish job market for attorneys.
“I have a vision of the school as being a model of what legal education should be like in the 21st century,” Klein said. “We’re already doing a lot of the things people say law schools should do. We’re a model for law schools around the country.”
Lyon believes the traditional legal education model has got to go – the large-lecture format with students only being taught the caselaw method – because the market will not tolerate it. No longer can students pick up the practice skills on the job, she said. They need to arrive already knowing how to interview a client, investigate facts and interpret a statute. All students must receive hands-on experience, not just the ones who choose to participate in clinics, she said.
Parrish was selected after IU Maurer spent more than a year searching for its next dean. He is an expert on transnational litigation, civil procedure and conflict of laws. His colleague at Southwestern, Bryant Garth, served as dean of IU Maurer School of Law from 1986 to 1990.
“Austen brings extraordinary talent and remarkable energy to his teaching, scholarship and administration,” Garth said. “He is going to be a superb dean and I am really happy that Indiana will be the beneficiary of his leadership.”