The Indiana Institute of Technology is moving forward with plans to open a law school in 2013.

Officials at Indiana Tech, as the school is known, announced on Jan. 25 that they will construct a $15 million building on the Fort Wayne campus to house the law school. That approach differs from other newly opened or planned law schools, which largely are housed in existing buildings that have been or will be renovated.

“Having the law school on the campus will provide many more opportunities for the law school community to interact with the rest of the campus and vice versa,” said Peter Alexander, who was hired in November as the founding dean at Indiana Tech. He is a former dean of Southern Illinois University School of Law. “The location is also close to downtown, which will allow us to foster close working relationships between law school faculty and students and the local bench and bar.”

The university had considered purchasing several buildings in downtown Fort Wayne — one a former bank and the other a Scottish Rite center. Instead, those buildings will become condominiums and an arts center.

“We seriously considered several possibilities but ultimately decided that constructing a new facility on our campus is the best way to serve our students,” said Indiana Tech President Arthur Snyder.

Housing the law school on campus will improve students’ access to athletic events, student activities and the university’s gym, administrators said. It also will help foster collaboration between the law school and other departments.

“I also see the law students being able to take courses in the MBA program and in other graduate programs that will count toward degree completion in the law school,” Alexander said. “With this location on campus, the law school programs and the general university programs will have a greater chance of being synergistic with one another, and there will be more opportunities for team-teaching and cross-listed courses.”

Construction of the 70,000-square-foot building was to begin immediately and should be completed by July 2013. Plans call for the school to open in fall 2013 with 100 students.

University trustees voted unanimously in May 2011 to establish a law school, the fifth in the state and the seventh within a three-hour drive of Fort Wayne. A feasibility study completed in early 2011 found that Indiana was underserved by lawyers, although some observers have criticized the new school as unnecessary, given the declining job prospects for new lawyers and the downturn in law school applications.

Officials have said that the law school curriculum will be unique in its emphasis on practical skills. They envision numerous clinical offerings, including an estate-planning clinic that will advise Indiana Tech employees.

Indiana Tech is a private college with 11 satellite campuses around the state. Its academic programs are career-focused and include undergraduate degrees in accounting, criminal justice, health care administration and marketing. The school already offers graduate degrees, including MBAs.

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