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Penn State to operate two law schools

Posted Jun 19, 2014 4:20 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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It appears that Pennsylvania State University could soon be revising its "One School, Two Campuses" description of its law school.

On Wednesday, the school announced that Penn State has gotten approval from the American Bar Association to operate two separately accredited law schools, starting with students admitted in the fall of 2015, the Centre Daily Times reports.

Although they will still function under the Dickinson School of Law umbrella, one institution will be called Penn State Law at University Park and the other will be known as Dickinson Law in Carlisle, officials told the newspaper. Each will have a separate dean, its own faculty and an individualized focus.

For the University Park law school, that will mean a traditional legal education that takes advantage of the interdisciplinary opportunities provided by being on Penn State's main campus, said interim dean James Houck.

“Our plan is to rely on a fairly classical, and we think compelling and powerful, approach to legal education, which is to get our terrific scholars and creative lawyers and teachers to help students get a legal education that benefits them for years to come,” he told the newspaper.

Meanwhile the Carlisle law school will focus on specialized government and health care programs that benefit from its proximity to the state capital and Washington, D.C., as well as Penn State Hershey Medical Center, said interim dean Gary Gildin, They are intended to produce "practice-ready lawyers, so you have all the thinking and practical skills to hit the ground on day one."

A Penn State Law press release provides additional details.

“The full approval of the ABA for operation as two law schools begins the next chapter of The Dickinson School of Law,” said executive vice president and provost Nicholas P. Jones in the release. “We believe that two law schools operating independently can more flexibly respond to the needs of law students entering a rapidly changing legal profession. Penn State is offering two quality alternatives to prospective students, who can gain an extraordinary law school experience and education, and stand out in the marketplace for those qualities.”

The ABA's Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar announced the dual accreditation decision in a Thursday memorandum (PDF).

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