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With its unique proximity to the halls of New York state power and policy, Albany Law School has long offered its students a smorgasbord of courses in government and public law. Now it is going after a new clientele: practicing lawyers. The only law school in New York’s capital is about to expand its Masters of Laws and Letters (LL.M.) program in government administration and regulation and, significantly, is targeting the working professional. “It was clear to me that if we were going to get a significant enrollment in the LL.M. programs we weren’t going to attract a whole lot of lawyers able to quit their jobs or work part-time in order to come back to take classes during the day,” said Dean Thomas F. Guernsey. “We decided that what we needed to do is make it available during non-business hours.” Guernsey, who was installed as president and dean last year, said his discussions with Capital Region attorneys revealed a constant theme: Lawyers working in government, or representing private clients appearing before government agencies, hungered for more specialized education but were unable to disrupt their careers. Since the lawyers and law firms could not adjust their schedules to accommodate Albany Law, the school is molding its schedule around the needs of the bar. Starting in January, attorneys will be able to work toward an LL.M. degree through courses offered in the evening and early morning, over weekends and even on lunch hours. “Firms are having a difficult time figuring out how to get their attorneys the training they need,” Guernsey said. Albany Law School initiated its LL.M. programs one year ago, and the expansion into government administration and regulation is viewed as a natural progression. “I think Albany Law School is capitalizing, no pun intended, on its geographic location in the state capital to create a niche, to be the law school in the United States that has a particular focus on government law and policy,” said Patricia E. Salkin, associate dean and director of the Government Law Center. The Government Law Center was opened 25 years ago to foster tighter connections between the law school and public policy and policymakers. It began as an academic research center that studied government and provided internship opportunities for students. Over the years, the center has developed into a major resource for government, and has had considerable impact in areas such as racing and wagering law, land use reform, government ethics and municipal law. Albany Law School students often gravitate toward the public sector. According to the National Association for Law Placement, nearly one-fourth of the class of 2002 ended up in public service. Salkin said the expanded LL.M. program continues to build on the tradition of the Government Law Center, with new courses in government contracts and procurement law, freedom of information and open-meetings law, gambling and the regulation of gaming and Indian land litigation. “We have always had a healthy number of government law and policy courses,” she said. “What the LL.M. program allows us to do is enhance that and provide more specialized courses. … This is an opportunity to service all the lawyers in the Capital Region who are government lawyers or might desire to become government lawyers, or have a significant part of their private practice serving government clients or private clients appearing before the government.”

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