With construction under way for Indiana Tech's new law school, the focus between now and its fall 2013 opening will shift to filling out the faculty, recruiting students and developing what school officials say will be a cutting-edge curriculum.
At a May groundbreaking celebration for the law school, Indiana Tech President Arthur Snyder and law school dean Peter Alexander pointed to the school's focus on experience – instead of just book learning – as the factor that will set it apart. The law school will draw on the Fort Wayne legal community's expertise to give students a unique experience, they said.
“One of the hallmarks of our law school will be its collaborative nature,” Alexander said. “Soon our doors will open, and lives will be changed.”
The school's experience-based approach to learning already has helped Alexander recruit at least one professor who formerly taught at Florida A&M University's law school. Victoria Duke will join Indiana Tech in July, she said at the groundbreaking.
“Because this school is focused on experiential learning, and that's all I do, it was a perfect fit,” Duke said.
Duke said her tasks over the summer will include creating a student manual and curriculum and helping bring in more faculty members. She also will be reaching out to area judges, attorneys, businesses, and others who can help students get plenty of real-world experience once they enter the law school.
“We will be going to a lot of activities, talking to judges, talking to the local bar association, making sure we know what their needs are,” she said.
Based on the attendance at the groundbreaking ceremony, many members of the Fort Wayne law community will have no problem supporting the start-up law school; well-known attorneys including state Sen. David Long, R-Fort Wayne, and former City Councilman Tim Pape were on hand to cheer the school.
A hundred students will be admitted for the law school's debut year. The school will then add five students to each class after that, with the biggest single class reaching 120 students, said Jessica Lynn Anderson, assistant dean for law school admissions.
Anderson said the law school has already produced strong interest, pointing to between 500 and 600 inquiries received via its website from prospective students. The school will at first target students from western Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky but could eventually reach out to recruits as far as Pittsburgh to the east and Des Moines, Iowa, to the west, she said.
Despite recent questions in the media about whether new law graduates have a tough time finding jobs right away, Alexander has said he feels confident Indiana Tech's program will draw students looking for a unique law education.
“It will embrace the best methods of contemporary law teaching,” Snyder said. “We will be a different kind of law school.”