Efforts to establish a law school in Daytona Beach, Fla., hit a snag when backers learned that their intended location isn’t large enough.
Two Jacksonville lawyers and a developer in March announced their intention to open the for-profit law school, which would be the 12th in Florida. They hoped to locate the school within a former police station that the city planned to sell.
The estimated size of that station is 55,000 square feet, but it turned out to contain only 38,000-square feet of usablespace, according to the city. That isn’t large enough to accommodate a law school accredited by the American Bar Association, said Eric Smith, a former state legislator and former career services dean at Florida Coastal School of Law who will serve as president of the school.
“Sometime a problem is only an opportunity in work clothes,” Smith said, noting that the partners now are looking for a site with 80,000 to 95,000 square feet of space. “We’re going to, as Emeril says, ‘Kick it up a notch.’ “
Despite not having a location yet, Smith and his partners still hope to launch the school next fall with between 80 and 120 students. Steven Nemerson, an attorney who has taught at the University of Minnesota Law School and several other law schools, would serve as dean. Developer Jim Catlett of Jacksonville-based Infinity Global Solutions LLC is the third partner in the venture. Eventually, they plan to enroll approximately 600 students.
Plans to found law schools have received plenty of criticism on the national stage for contributing to what many see as a glut of new lawyers who struggle to find work. Smith said he and his partners have spent “countless hours” networking with local universities and attorneys to promote their project, and that nearly everyone has been supportive. Tuition will be between 20 percent and 35 percent lower than the competition charges, he said.
“We’re not deterred in the least,” Smith said. “We’ve got people who are interested in being students and faculty.”
For now, the partners are continuing to look for an appropriate space in Daytona Beach. But Smith said they might expand their search into Melbourne, Fla., about 90 miles to the south, if they can’t find what they need.
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