Louisiana College is tapping the brakes on its plan to open a law school — the state’s fifth — in Shreveport, La.

The Judge Paul Pressler School of Law was slated to open in fall 2012 when the plans were announced last year. Now, administrators say the school won’t open until fall 2013. The delay will give the school time to renovate its 158,000 square-foot building, a former federal courthouse that has been vacant for close to 12 years. The building must undergo an asbestos removal. It also will give the school more time to recruit students, founding dean J. Michael Johnson told The Town Talk, a newspaper in Alexandria, La.

“It’s still possible to open it in 2012 if we rush it, but we all looked around as said, ‘Why would we rush it?’ ” Johnson said.

Louisiana College is still raising money for the law school. Administrators hope to raise nearly $23 million and said they have collected about one third of that amount thus far.

Louisiana College has about 1,500 students and is based in Pineville, La. It is owned by the Louisiana Baptist Convention, and the law school’s curriculum will have a Christian focus. Johnson has held a variety of positions with the Alliance Defense Fund, which seeks to “defend religious liberty.”

The law school is named for Paul Pressler III, a former Texas Court of Appeals judge who helped lead the conservative takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention during the 1970s. He is a director of Christian radio broadcasting and publishing company Salem Communications Corp.

Meanwhile, in Fort Wayne, Ind., administrators at the Indiana Institute of Technology were fending off criticism of their decision to open a new law school in 2013. Critics have questioned an Indiana Tech feasibility study that found that Indiana is underserved when it comes to lawyers.

Administrators said they remain undeterred. Indiana Tech President Arthur Snyder told the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette that the new law school would take a different approach by focusing on producing graduates who are prepared to practice. He hopes to hire a dean for the new law school next month.
Karen Sloan can be contacted at ksloan@alm.com.