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University lays foundation for new law school

By : Katie Ellis

Binghamton University is moving forward with its proposal to establish a law school as the next logical step for the University as it expands educational opportunities for students.

“This proposal is an outgrowth of our strategic planning process to not only grow in size, but also increase the breadth and depth of our academic offerings,” President Lois B. DeFleur said. “Over the last decade, we have enhanced several important academic fields and degrees that provide a firm foundation on which to build a first-class law school.”

Many Binghamton students who have entered law school have benefited from the rigor of the University’s undergraduate programs, including philosophy, politics and law and political science. “From that perspective, we draw on strengths we already have in undergraduate and professional education, and in the strength of our faculty,” said Mary Ann Swain, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

There is also strength in the quality of Binghamton graduates who apply to law schools. The 2006-2007 annual report from the Pre-Law Office notes that 83 percent of Binghamton’s 1

'Our goal is to become one of the best public law schools in the nation.' - President Lois B. DeFleur
40 senior applicants were accepted into law school — compared to 71 percent nationally. Currently, 7 percent of all Binghamton students select law as a profession.

With only two public law schools in New York State, at the University at Buffalo and CUNY-Queens, estimates show a law school at Binghamton would be in high demand, both by Binghamton University students and others.

The impact of a law school at Binghamton would be far-reaching, DeFleur said, raising both the intellectual capital as well as the economic vitality of the region and the state. “The influx of talented students and faculty will enrich other fields of study and create cross-disciplinary opportunities for faculty and students,” she said.

In addition, standard economic projections indicate new expenditures would reach $10 million annually within five years, with an estimated annual impact of $26.4 million on the region and $33.7 on the state.

Timing is also good because the New York State Department of Labor reports that the employment of lawyers is expected to grow over the next decade, with increased demand in health care, intellectual propert

'Our intent is to establish a model law school whose visibility and reputation will attract an accomplished dean and faculty.' - Provost Mary Ann Swain
y, venture capital, energy, elder, antitrust and environmental law.

A law school at Binghamton will further the state’s ability to fill those positions. “Our goal is to become one of the best public law schools in the nation,” DeFleur said. Graduates with superior academic records from highly regarded law schools will have the best job opportunities and will increasingly find work in nontraditional areas.

“There’s a lot of opportunity now and we’ve done a lot of preliminary planning and checked its veracity with an American Bar Association-recommended consultant,” Swain said. “One of our next steps is to conduct a comprehensive study to position the proposed new program and school appropriately, and to develop a plan for a sustainable base of support for the academic excellence to which we aspire.”

Swain added: “Our intent is to establish a model law school whose visibility and reputation will attract an accomplished dean and faculty. We’ll develop a first-class law education, and an appropriate curriculum to meet and exceed American Bar Association accreditation standards.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08