Dean's Desk: McKinney initiatives broaden access to legal education

December 13, 2017

Dean Andrew KleinWhen I talk about the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law (which I often do!), certain themes recur. We are fortunate to educate students in a vibrant capitol city. We take advantage of operating in a leading hub for the health and life sciences. And we are mindful of our school’s mission to make legal education accessible to a wide range of people. Several recent initiatives highlight these themes, and I am eager to share the examples.

Access to legal education

As some of you know, the American Bar Association’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion selected our school to lead a new program that will introduce the possibility of careers in law to undergraduate students from populations historically underrepresented in the profession. Backed by a significant grant from the ABA, we will launch a pipeline program this spring. Faculty at the law school and on the IUPUI campus will offer a set of online courses to undergraduate students, and the program will introduce them to lawyers who have volunteered to serve as professional mentors. I am incredibly proud of our faculty who are leading this initiative, and I look forward to its growth. McKinney’s selection by the ABA reflects well on our school’s longstanding commitment to inclusion in the legal profession.

Serving Indiana

Shifting gears, you also may have seen that the state is supporting our collaboration with Purdue University’s College of Agriculture to develop a pilot program in agricultural law. Amy Cornell, a 2006 McKinney graduate who did her undergraduate work at Purdue, will spearhead the effort. Amy is uniquely qualified to do so. She has an extensive background in agricultural law and earned a Master of Laws degree in agricultural and food law from the University of Arkansas School of Law in Fayetteville. She also is a member of the American Agricultural Law Association and served as policy adviser and counsel for Indiana Farm Bureau. She is now part of the government relations and strategic communications team at the Bose Public Affairs Group. Amy is currently putting together a steering committee that will explore a range of potential projects in the field. I am proud of our school’s collaborative spirit, and excited that we are engaging in a project that is important to the state of Indiana.

Health and life sciences

While we move forward with local partners, we also continue to develop programs that expand our horizons across the country and, indeed, across the globe. In October, we hosted a conference in cooperation with the United States Patent and Trademark Office entitled, “At the Crossroads of America’s Strategies for IP in China: What Indiana Companies Need to Know Now.” Our own Professor Xuan-Thao Nguyen, director of the school’s Center on Intellectual Property Law and Innovation, organized the program, providing a tremendous opportunity for community education, while allowing our students to meet leading intellectual property lawyers from around the world. These same students, by the way, will now have the opportunity to represent small entrepreneurs before the USPTO in Washington, pursuant to a new opportunity developed by our Center.

Perhaps it goes without saying that this has been a busy and exciting year at the McKinney School of Law. As this is my final column for 2017, allow me to express my gratitude for the support that so many of you provide to our school and students. My best wishes for a peaceful holiday and a Happy New Year.•


Andrew R. Klein is the Paul E. Beam Professor of Law and dean of the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law. The opinions expressed are those of the author.


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