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After six years of behind-the-scenes and public maneuvering, Pace University School of Law is finally getting the much awaited Judicial Institute on its White Plains, N.Y., campus. At a judicial budget hearing at Pace two weeks ago, New York Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman and Pace Law Dean David S. Cohen announced that the funding of $15 million is now in place. The project was hailed as the first judicial training and research facility custom designed for a state court system. It will also house the Center for Judicial Studies, a legal “think tank” that officials hope will attract judges, lawyers and academics from around the country. “The establishment of the Judicial Institute will show that we view judicial education to be a process of continuous learning and professional development, and not just a once-a-year, one-week endeavor,” Lippman said. “It will allow us to move beyond just seminars and do in-depth training … and to really make a direct impact on court operations.” Lippman said the facility, a three-story structure slated to open in 2002, will be operated by court personnel. The New York Dormitory Authority has issued bonds to finance construction, which is scheduled to begin this winter. Cohen said the facility will benefit the law school enormously by demonstrating the “central role of the academy in legal education at all levels.” He said the paired concepts of academic freedom and judicial independence will further both disciplines. MANAGED BY OCA The Judicial Institute will be administered by the New York Office of Court Administration, which will dip into the New York Court Facility Incentive Aid Fund for the monies to overhaul an existing law school building. The Fund was created in 1987 with revenue from increased court fees and is available for projects aimed at overcrowded and deteriorated court facilities. The decision to establish the Institute at Pace did not happen overnight. Rather, the legislature approved the project after five years of meetings with OCA and intense lobbying of the legislature and the governor by former Pace Dean Richard L. Ottinger, an eight-term congressman from Westchester. It started for Pace in 1994, after Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye publicly suggested an interest in building a permanent center for judicial education in New York state. Pace quickly formed a task force to explore the idea of hosting the center. After years of feasibility and architectural studies, the congressman convinced OCA that White Plains would be an ideal location. Even though the majority of the state’s judges are located in and around New York City, Judge Kaye wanted a spot outside the city because upstate judges often feel neglected, according to Ottinger. Plus, $15 million can go much farther toward construction costs in the suburbs than in the city, he added. Those concerns put New York City law schools out of the running, and University of Buffalo and Albany Law were thought to be too far to travel for the metropolitan-area judges. Pace was one of the few campuses left. Touro College’s Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center also seized on the idea of housing a Judicial Institute, but in the end, Pace’s more central location and accessibility won out. Pace, which can be reached by car or train, also offers the Westchester Airport within minutes of the school. Another factor was that Pace was willing to donate an existing building, the Hayes Library. A reading room within the building will be converted to a 160-seat interactive training auditorium for the judges.

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