Teaching future lawyers a strategy that they can adapt to a variety of cases is Wes Porter’s mission as director of the Golden Gate University School of Law’s litigation center. Although the San Francisco law school has emphasized litigation for decades, the center that began when Porter started six years ago brings under one umbrella a coordinated panorama of doctrinal courses, extracurricular programs and real-world training to prepare future trial lawyers for the courtroom.
Mark Gordon, who becomes dean of William Mitchell College of Law on July 1, credits former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo with convincing him to go to law school. Gordon, who worked as an aide to Cuomo in Albany in the mid-1980s, is currently president of Defiance College in Ohio, where he has boosted freshman enrollment and completed a $26 million capital campaign.
Gillian Lester, Columbia Law School’s 15th dean, arrives as law schools nationwide grapple with sliding enrollment and an over saturated job market. Equipped with first-hand experience in academic leadership — she was formerly the acting dean at University of California-Berkeley Law — she will help Columbia flourish “at a time of great challenge and opportunity,” the university’s president said.
The first-year class at U.S. law schools last fall shrank the least since numbers began dropping three years ago, amid improving U.S. economic growth and speculation that waning enrollment combined with retiring baby boomers would lead to a shortage of attorneys. Altogether, 37,924 students began working toward juris doctorate degrees at the 204 institutions accredited by the American Bar Association’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the government-designated regulator for law schools. That marked a 4.4 percent drop from the previous year and a 28 percent slide since the historic high of 52,488 in 2010.
The largest drop in bar exam scores in almost 40 years has virtually everyone involved asking whether it occurred because of the test or the test-takers. A group of law school deans has asked the National Conference of Bar Examiners, which administers the test, to turn over its data for an independent expert examination. The 83-year-old not-for-profit is conducting its own review in the meantime, but has so far found nothing to indicate the exam, given in July, was flawed.
Concordia University School of Law’s request for provisional accreditation, which would allow degree-holders to take the bar exam anywhere in the U.S., will be considered at an American Bar Association meeting almost a month after scheduled commencement ceremonies for its first graduating class.
Terry McManus’s career in fund-raising began with a college internship on a losing Senate campaign. The job included making cold calls to potential donors, and the skills he began to develop then and has honed in the 14 years since will support him as Boston University Law’s new assistant dean of development and alumni relations, a post he began in May.
A partnership at the University of California-Davis between a student center and the law school’s immigration clinic, one that’s the first of its kind in the University of California system, will provide free legal services to undocumented students and their families. The law school is simultaneously developing an initiative for its immigration clinic to provide such services to schools in the University of California system that don’t offer law degrees.