Monday, August 31, 2015

William Mitchell-Hamline law school merger creates opportunity to reinvent law school

The recent merger of the twin cities law schools has resulted in a program that expects to expand next year with a particular focus on teaching students the entrepreneurial skills and multicultural competencies needed to succeed in the new normal. From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

After merger, Mitchell|Hamline has a chance to renew legal education


The school is rethinking how it serves a changing profession.


The customary academic cycle continues at William Mitchell College of Law and Hamline University School of Law, both in St. Paul. Fall classes for weekday students began Thursday at both institutions.


But it seems as if everything else is in flux at these schools — and in legal education and legal practice more generally. If American Bar Association accreditors “acquiesce” — the term of art for such matters — the two schools will be one by year’s end. They will become Mitchell|Hamline School of Law, under the leadership of this fall’s new Mitchell president, Mark Gordon, and consolidate operations at Mitchell’s campus at 875 Summit Av.


A merger of two separately accredited law schools is by itself a daunting undertaking, so rare that it may be unique in the U.S., Gordon told the Star Tribune Editorial Board this week. But the merger is but one of a number of changes — some newly contemplated, some already begun — as the school rethinks how it serves a changing profession. “We have a great opportunity to do something that’s never been done before,” Gordon said.


It’s an opportunity that has arisen from distress. While Hamline, the smallest of four Twin Cities law schools, and Mitchell, the second-largest, talked about a combination off and on for 15 years, it took the enrollment dip of the past five years to get them together. Hamline’s law school enrollment shrank by a third in the last five years, to 439 students in 2013-14. Mitchell experienced a 17 percent drop in the same period, to 809 students.

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