Indiana Tech is one step closer to opening its new law school.

The Fort Wayne, Ind., university planned to break ground on May 18 on the $15 million, 70,000-square-foot building that will house its law school, which is projected to open in the fall of 2013.

Founding dean Peter Alexander, who served as dean of Southern Illinois University School of Law from 2003 to 2009, said the plans call for 100 students to enroll during the first year, with a five-student increase during each of the next four years. The school has yet to launch a formal recruiting push, he said, but he has made numerous visits around the Midwestern region from which the school expects to draw nearly all of its students.

Alexander made his first hire earlier this month, of Jessica Anderson as assistant dean for admission. She previously worked in the admissions office at Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law.

Indiana Tech will be the fifth law school in the state and the seventh within a three-hour drive of Fort Wayne. However, university officials say a feasibility study concluded that Indiana is underserved by lawyers.

Alexander said that many local attorneys and other interested parties have warmed to the law school after learning more about its educational approach. For one thing, tuition for the 2013-14 year will be a relatively low $29,500, he said. The curriculum will highlight collaborative learning, and first-year students will be required to take a course on ethics and professionalism during their first semester.

The curriculum will incorporate a significant amount of experiential learning; at least half of every upper-level course will comprise “real world” instruction such as simulations, Alexander added. Plans call for the school to house seven legal clinics and offer a “semester in practice” that students can spend working in government offices, public interest organizations or law firms. The program is loosely modeled after existing programs at Northeastern University School of Law and Drexel University Earle Mack School of Law.

J.D. students at Indiana Tech will also have the option to concentrate in one of four areas of the law: advocacy and dispute resolution, intellectual property, transactional law, and global law and leadership, Alexander said.

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