Indiana Tech Law School, which began the fall semester Aug. 24, is welcoming a new class of first-year students and mounting another effort to gain preliminary accreditation.
As the semester starts, the law school is adding Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller to its teaching roster. The state’s top lawyer will be teaching one class on Indiana constitutional law to second- and third-year students on the Fort Wayne campus.
“We’re just proceeding along,” said Indiana Tech Law School Dean Charles Cercone. “We’re very optimistic about the year.”
The incoming Class of 2018 is comprised of 15 students who have a median LSAT score of 151 and a median GPA of 3.42. This is the smallest group yet to enroll in the Fort Wayne law school which opened in 2013. The institution’s first two classes each had about 30 students, and the Class of 2017 came with a median LSAT of 148.
The law school has also started the accreditation process again, submitting its reapplication last week. The American Bar Association denied the Fort Wayne school provisional accreditation earlier this year.
Cercone said the ABA wanted to see a fully developed three-year curriculum, which the school has formulated and is implementing. The law school is scheduled for a site visit from an ABA accrediting team Oct. 4-7. In April, Cercone will make a presentation to the ABA Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.
While recruiting, Cercone said he told prospective students about the accreditation process along with explaining the school’s program and mission.
“I’m sure that the accreditation uncertainty entered into a lot of students’ thinking,” he said.
A concern after the denial was that the students starting their third year would opt to transfer to an accredited law school. Indiana does not allow graduates of unaccredited law schools to sit for the bar exam. However, Cercone said only one member of the Class of 2016 decided to leave because of that.
About 20 second- and third-year students have enrolled in Zoeller’s class. The course is scheduled to meet every Wednesday afternoon from Aug. 26 through Dec. 2.
Cercone described Zoeller’s step into a teaching role as a natural progression of the attorney general’s involvement with the school since it opened. The AG is a member of the law school’s board of visitors and spoke during the law school’s dedication in September 2013.
“He’s been a long-time, strong supporter of the law school. He believes in the law school’s mission and he’s been helpful to us in a number of ways,” Cercone said.
When Zoeller is in Fort Wayne, he often uses the law school’s facility to hold press conferences or announce new initiatives. He has always asked what he could do to help, said andré douglas pond cummings, associate dean. The law school and Zoeller have been talking for about a year about having him teach a class.
Cercone said Zoeller’s experience and wealth of knowledge will give the law school’s students a “tremendous learning experience.”
“We’re very pleased and honored he will be teaching,” Cercone said.
This will not be Zoeller’s first turn in the classroom. He has taught law school courses as an adjunct professor at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law and as a lecturer at his alma mater, Indiana University Maurer School of Law.
In a statement, Zoeller said, “The opportunity to teach law students and help develop their understanding of our Indiana Constitution is a rewarding experience for me at Attorney General. I appreciate being asked to work with the law students and to support the new law school as a valuable asset to northeastern Indiana.”
Zoeller was first elected AG in 2008 and in July announced his candidacy for the 9th Congressional District.