Law Schools

Valpo law school closing; teach-out plan in the works

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The law school at Indiana’s Valparaiso University is closing, its board of directors announced Tuesday, following a scuttled plan to gift it to Middle Tennessee State University.

Approximately 100 students, all of whom are in their second or third years, remain at the law school, which now plans to continue with a teach-out, a press release states.

“This has been an extremely difficult decision and is the result of several years of careful discernment,” Frederick G. Kraegel, chairman of the Valparaiso University board of directors, said in the release. “We have explored a number of strategic alternatives. Despite these efforts, we have not been able to achieve a more positive outcome.”

Valparaiso’s board announced in November 2017 that it would suspend the admission of first-year students at the law school for the fall of 2018 in light of “severe financial challenges” and falling enrollment. That news came a few days after the council of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar removed a 2016 public censure stating the law school was not in compliance with admissions standards. By 2017, the law school got its median LSAT score up to 151 and the censure was lifted. But that year there were only 31 students in Valpo Law’s first-year class, according to its 509 Report.

Valpo and MTSU governing boards in October 2018 reached a proposed agreement where the law school infrastructure would be a gift, and for the fall of 2019 operate on both the Indiana and Tennessee campuses, with MTSU offering reimbursement for interim expenses. But the Tennessee Higher Education Commission voted 8 to 5 against the proposal.

Before the vote the agency obtained a feasibility study, Tennessee’s Murfreesporo Post reported, which found that adding a fourth ABA-accredited law school to Tennessee would raise the cost of recruiting law students for all schools there, and increase competition for employment opportunities. Sidney A. McPhee, president of MTSU, told the paper that he disagreed with the report’s findings.

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