PHILADELPHIA (October 1, 2005) — LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – The Pennsylvania Department of Education (DoE) has approved a plan to open the Drexel University College of Law, Drexel President Constantine Papadakis announced. The College — the first law school established by a highly ranked doctoral university in more than 25 years — will open to students in fall 2006.
The Drexel University Board of Trustees will announce the DoE’s approval at its Sept. 28 meeting.
With the DoE’s approval, the College of Law can begin its marketing campaign and recruitment of students for its inaugural class. Following the DoE’s approval, the Philadelphia Planning Commission cleared plans to build a $13 million, 44,000-square-foot facility to house the College on Market Street between 33rd and 34th streets, adjacent to the University’s W.W. Hagerty Library. Additionally, Carl “Tobey” Oxholm III, who has led the development of the College as senior vice president and general counsel, has been named Drexel senior vice president for the law center.
“When we decided to move ahead with this idea, all the experts told us that it would take two years, maybe three, to get ready,” Papadakis said. “The secretary of education has now confirmed that we are on track to open in just 46 weeks. The department has now confirmed what we believe: We will be creating a state-of-the-art law school that will be among the best in the nation in producing attorneys who are well-trained in the law, have knowledge of the industries in which they will work and have the skills to help their clients achieve excellence.”
A five-member team the DoE sent to Drexel completed a three-day visit in late July. The team reviewed data and interviewed more than 60 people, including faculty, students, trustees, administrators and judges and lawyers practicing in Philadelphia. The DoE’s approval will remain provisional until the success of the College is confirmed by a site review after the College has been in operation for several years.
The College will initially offer the doctor of jurisprudence (JD) as its principal degree to full-time students in fall 2006. A one-year program, the master of legal studies, will be offered in fall 2007, when part-time students will begin their law education. Additionally, the College will offer the master of laws program in fall 2008, the earliest the American Bar Association can begin its accreditation review.
Drexel’s College of Law will give Greater Philadelphia its first new law school in 30 years, joining Penn, Temple, Villanova, Rutgers at Camden and Widener. The demand for admissions to area law schools far exceeds the number of available positions, Oxholm said. To differentiate it from other law schools regionally and nationally, Drexel’s College of Law will reflect characteristics that define the University: cooperative education, a focus on technology and students’ utilization of the resources of Philadelphia as a “living laboratory.” It will specialize in intellectual property, health care and entrepreneurial business.
“Drexel University has demonstrated that there is a call for the law school that concentrates on three very important and growing areas: intellectual property law, health care law and entrepreneurial law,” according to the report from the DoE site-visit team. “The practical focus of Drexel Law on these three areas will undoubtedly produce attorneys ready and able to work in these fields.”
College of Law students will have the opportunity to spend six months working with attorneys in leading corporations, law firms and government offices, and some will be able to have two co-op experiences before they graduate, all within three years. The objective is for Drexel students to gain hands-on experience in the industries in which they hope to practice. The College is one of only two law schools in the country to follow the co-op approach to legal education.
“A Drexel law student will be able to do a ‘deep dive’ and learn substantive information in one of the concentration areas,” the DoE team said. “On account of this deep-dive feature of the JD program, Drexel students will likely graduate with the most current knowledge in those areas of legal need and will be able to be productive sooner than their counterparts from other, more traditional, law schools.”
The demand for law studies has grown within the University. Drexel offers more than 50 law-related courses in the current academic year, and its LeBow College of Business offers many courses about the law’s role in business. Additionally, the Drexel University College of Medicine teaches courses in health care law in collaboration with Widener University School of Law, and the College of Arts and Sciences offers a joint degree (JD-Ph.D.) in psychology with the Villanova School of Law. Those programs will be continued.
The College of Law will offer joint-degree programs with Drexel’s other graduate colleges and schools and an accelerated joint-degree program for its best undergraduate students. The College’s faculty will be encouraged to collaborate with the faculty of other University colleges on multidisciplinary research and to jointly teach law-related courses.
Since Drexel has announced plans to open a law school, the College of Law has received support from the law community. The Delaware Valley chapter of the Association of Corporate Counsel (DELVACCA) has approved a plan to work with the College as part of the chapter’s law school initiative. The initiative will allow the College to develop its cooperative education program with corporations that are members of DELVACCA.
Duane Morris LLP, one of the nation’s 100 largest law firms, will donate law books to the College. The donation, an in-kind gift of 6,000 volumes, makes Duane Morris the first contributor to the College. Additionally, through the College of Law’s unique affiliation with Jenkins Law Library, students will have access to its more than 589,000 volumes. Founded in 1802 in center city and maintained as the law library for the legal profession in Philadelphia, the library offers personalized reference services to users in person, over the phone and via e-mail in addition to providing a variety of remote and in-house legal-research tools.
The College of Law will join Drexel’s nine colleges and three schools, including the Drexel University College of Medicine, the largest private medical school in the United States. Drexel offers 70 bachelor’s programs, 73 master’s programs, 30 doctoral programs, a doctor of medicine program and 21 graduate-level certificate programs. Drexel’s alumni totals more than 100,000 worldwide. Visit www.drexel.edu/law for updates about the College.