X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
Drexel University said last month that it plans to open a law school by the fall of 2006 that will distinguish itself from other local law schools by focusing its curriculum on Drexel’s undergraduate and graduate academic strengths, such as engineering, health care and business while incorporating the university’s focus on cooperative education. Starting a law school, which must be accredited by the state of Pennsylvania and eventually the American Bar Association, has been under discussion since Drexel acquired the Hahnemann Health System in the summer of 2002, according to Drexel vice president and general counsel Carl “Tobey” Oxholm III, who has been put in charge of the project by University President Constantine Papadakis. “You think about all of the schools we have here and they all have connections to the law,” Oxholm said. “Our health system, engineering, media arts and design, the business school. And we’re developing a pre-law curriculum. And we’ve been getting pressures from those different schools. Our school newspaper, The Triangle, caught wind of this a few months ago and basically wrote an editorial that essentially said, ‘What’s taken you guys so long?’” Oxholm said the executive committee of Drexel’s board of directors has scheduled a vote for next month’s meeting to approve the plan. If the committee signs off on it, the next step would be acquiring formal approval from the state Department of Education. Oxholm said the Department of Education would make an on-campus visit and then give the school provisional approval to open its doors, hopefully with enough time for the school to begin advertising for a September 2006 start date. While Oxholm has no illusions that the school would rival an Ivy League institution such as the University of Pennsylvania, he said it would not be a fourth-tier school either. Though it will have a more narrow focus, he envisions it being competitive with the law schools at Temple University, Villanova University and Rutgers University-Camden. Because Temple and Rutgers-Camden are larger, public institutions, the best comparison would probably be with Villanova in terms of size and tuition rate. Ironically, Drexel and Villanova Law currently offer a joint law/Ph.D. program with students taking law classes at Villanova Law and psychology classes at Drexel. Villanova Law Dean Mark Sargent did not respond to an interview request by press time and Temple Law Dean Robert Reinstein responded by issuing a statement wishing Drexel well with its new venture. Because the school would open without being accredited by the ABA, Oxholm said it would offer students a discount on tuition. He said he would hope to have provisional approval before the first group of students graduates in the spring of 2009. If not, the students’ degrees would not be worth much, Oxholm said. ABA approval would also entail an on-campus visit, would require the school to meet a host of regulations and would eventually need to be approved by the House of Delegates. As a basis of comparison, ABA officials said the University of Nevada-Las Vegas opened a law school in 1999, received provisional approval in 2000 and full approval in 2003. Oxholm said the school would like to start out with at least 70 students in its first class and possibly as many as 120. The school would eventually like to have 600 full-time and part-time students. The students would be split into two sections and take the normal assortment of first-year classes before entering into a co-op program during the second and third years. Oxholm said he would envision the students spending six months on campus taking classes and six months getting practical experience with a legal employer in the private, public or public interest sectors. He said while one section of students would be in class during a six-month period, the other would be working. Oxholm said he hopes Drexel’s undergraduate students will eventually comprise 20 percent of the law school’s student population. Currently, he said only about 35 Drexel undergrads move on to law school. There are approximately 9,800 undergraduate students at Drexel and the school does not host the LSAT. Oxholm said the school hopes to hire a pre-law professor for undergraduate students within the next month. Oxholm said that the growing number of law school applicants should help ensure that Drexel will have full enrollment. Drexel’s unique co-op program could also be a draw, he said. The core curriculum for the school would be comprised of intellectual property, health care and emerging growth businesses. Oxholm said that the co-ops would be geared toward specific industries such as pharmaceutical, environmental and computer technology. Oxholm said the school could also eventually offer joint degrees with Drexel’s other graduate programs such as business and medical as well as the possibility of an LL.M. program. Drexel officials would like to construct a new building for the law school that would connect to the rest of the campus’ schools, which Oxholm said have been asking the administration to open a law school. If a suitable space cannot be found, the school will consider other options such as renovating an existing building or moving into unoccupied office space in Center City. Oxholm said the school plans to pay for all this by dipping into its endowment, which he says is quite sizable. University officials said the school would initially lose money; they hope it will start breaking even in its sixth or seventh year. Oxholm said funding for the project would not come from the school’s budget and that he has not begun to make the rounds with Drexel graduates who are now lawyers in town to seek financial backing. “We don’t have [anything approved] to pitch to them as of yet,” Oxholm said. As for the faculty, Oxholm said he will start by executing a national search for professors to head up the IP and health care sections as well a professor adept at organizing and teaching first-year curriculum. Oxholm and that trio of educators would then work to hire a law school dean. Oxholm, who practiced law at two major law firms and served as head of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s public interest section before joining Drexel a few years ago, said he has no interest in serving as a dean or full-time faculty member. But he did say his passion for pro bono and public interest work would be carried over to the law school, as it would require students to complete 50 hours of pro bono service during their three years there. Initial reaction from the local legal community was enthusiastic. Woodcock Washburn, the city’s largest IP law firm, plans to move to the Cira Centre building across from 30th Street Station next year — just a stone’s throw from Drexel’s University City campus. Hiring partner Barbara Mullen said she believes the practical experience gained from the co-op program might give the Drexel students an advantage in the job market, especially in the IP world. Mullen said that most of the lawyers Woodcock Washburn hires gain a hard science or engineering undergraduate degree and then work in the field for a number of years before attending law school. “What I think could happen here is that a lot of those engineering graduates from Drexel who go out into the workforce could find returning to their alma mater for law school to be an attractive option,” Mullen said. Drinker Biddle & Reath hiring partner Audrey Talley, whose firm also has a large IP practice, said she believes the creation of a law school would give the Drexel undergrads more incentive to go directly to law school. Like Mullen, Talley said the additional practical experience would make Drexel Law graduates attractive to legal employers. Talley said having law students at the firm for six months instead of for three months during the summer would present some logistical challenges. “We would just want to make sure we had a program that would be consistent with the experience Drexel would want for its students and making sure we have the proper resources,” Talley said. “But I think having a longer view of a candidate would allow us to better evaluate someone’s future with our firm.”

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.