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December 8, 2010
Yet Another Possible New Law School
This one will be in Delaware, if the feasibility study works out. The University of Delaware is considering the establishment of the state's first public law school. The proposed school would be located on the UD Newark Campus. That location is in the northern part of the state, not far from the Delaware campus of the Widener University Law School.
The University released a letter from University President Patrick T. Harper to the UD community describing the plan for a law school:
The board has not yet formally approved the formation of a new law school. The final Board decision is still several years away, and will await refined analysis, additional faculty input and the completion of a targeted fundraising campaign. Under the timetable we discussed with the trustees today, the board would be asked in the spring of 2013 to authorize the establishment of a new law school, with the objective of recruiting and hiring the founding law school dean during the 2013-2014 academic year and admitting our first law students for classes beginning in fall 2015.
Investing in a new law school is expensive. It would require subsidization of operating costs for the better part of a decade, retrofitting a campus building or leasing space for the law school's first decade of existence, and making a substantial one-time start-up investment in library resources. The need to pursue philanthropic gifts in support of a new law school is critical, particularly in a revenue-based-budgeting world.
It's easy to question why yet another law school is in the planning stage with the market for graduates in bad shape. Various university officials have made positive statements about the potential success for the school and how it would enhance UD. Widener President Jim Harris was a bit more circumspect about the idea. He said this to Delaware Online:
Is there a need for what's being proposed? What would best serve the needs of higher education in the state of Delaware? That's the question. Maybe the answer is another law school. And maybe it's not.
A state institution, with proper funding, should be able to get accredited. Let's hope the job market improves if and when the school gets up and running. [MG]