In this issue:
University Submits “Second Century” Plan to Board of Regents.
After months of research, consultation, and drafting, and following nearly two years of strategic planning, the College of Law has prepared, and the University of Idaho has submitted to the Board of Regents, a plan for Idaho’s second century of legal education. The proposed plan, providing for delivery of the J.D. degree at Moscow and Boise, will be considered by the State Board during its meeting on August 21, 2008.
As noted in prior editions of “First Monday,” the concept of delivering the J.D. degree program at two locations has been analyzed and recommended in a document entitled Let Our Minds Be Bold – Fulfilling a Statewide Mission in the University of Idaho’s Second Century of Legal Education. The document may be found on the home page of the College of Law Web site. After reviewing the document and hearing a presentation on April 17, 2008, the State Board passed a resolution authorizing the University “to proceed with implementation planning for the two-location concept, including operating budget, capital budget, facility needs analysis, curriculum and an implementation timeline.”
On June 19, 2008, the University updated the Board on the process for composing the implementation plan. This update, entitled Unifying Idaho – One Law School, Two Locations: From Concept to Implementation, is also available on the College’s website home page. The latest document, entitled Bold Minds, Practical Measures: An Implementation Plan for Strengthening Statewide Legal Education, will be posted to the website on August 14, coinciding with the State Board’s schedule for posting all materials relating to its upcoming meeting on August 21.
The plan, comprised of 79 pages plus appendices, is organized into two parts. First, it addresses needs and opportunities for public legal education in Idaho. Then, it sets forth in detail the programmatic and budgetary components of a phased development of the legal education program in Boise as well as continuation and enhancement of the program at the College’s home campus in Moscow. The plan document includes the following main points:
- The University of Idaho has the statewide mission to deliver public legal education. Since the Menard Law Building was constructed in 1972-73, Idaho’s population has doubled, the state’s economy and government have more than doubled, and the Treasure Valley has become a major metropolitan center. Meanwhile, the College of Law has remained relatively static.
- Idaho has a growing need for legal expertise to support a growing economy, the administration of criminal and civil justice, and the services needed by Idaho families. At the same time, legal education is changing due to globalization, specialization, rising demand for practice-ready graduates, and increased use of law degrees in business and other occupations. Because law school is a gateway to many careers in addition to the practice of law, expanded legal education opportunities do not translate directly into equivalent increases in the number of practitioners.
- Idaho is a net importer of legal talent; it produces fewer law graduates than adequate to meet the need in this state and surrounding region. Other regions of the country do not have this deficit. (Questions about whether the U.S. has more than enough law schools have focused on those regions, not on Idaho.) Surveys show that with two locations the University of Idaho College of Law would appeal to a significantly larger group of prospective law students. Employment prospects for law graduates in Idaho are strong.
- Affordable public legal education holds down law school debt, thereby enabling graduates to take jobs in Idaho communities or in the public and nonprofit sectors. It keeps legal services and justice accessible for people of ordinary means.
- The College of Law is, and should remain, rooted in Moscow; however, it cannot remain competitive, nor can it fully serve the state, if it remains solely in Moscow. Inevitably there will be legal education in Boise. Idaho’s legal education program would be enhanced, and the state’s century-long investment in the College of Law in Moscow would be secured, by linking the College’s land-grant location with a metropolitan location. Faculty scholarship, service to the state, and community outreach also would increase.
- The College’s planning consultant has strongly recommended a single statewide law school with efficient, unified administration and curricular design, providing two places of opportunity: Moscow and Boise. Moscow will remain the center of law school administration. The College of Law Advisory Council unanimously has embraced this concept. The concept has been adopted by the law faculty and endorsed by the University leadership. This is a long-term response to Idaho’s needs. It is not a transitional mechanism for moving the College.
- In the two-location framework, delivery of Juris Doctor (J.D.) education, faculty scholarship, service, and community outreach would be developed in steps according to an eight-year timeline (2009 to 2016) contained in the plan. The timeline will reflect a faculty commitment to academic quality, the depth of the qualified student applicant pool, accreditation standards (to be met and exceeded), the costs of each step, and the resources available from the Legislature and Governor, private supporters, and student fees, as well as grants and contracts.
- Initial steps would begin in 2009 with augmentation of classroom components of existing Boise-based externships, the semester-in-practice program, and the College’s small business legal clinic. In the Fall of 2010, the College of Law would enroll an initial first-year class of approximately 30 students in Boise. The size of each entering class in Boise would increase gradually until it reached approximately 85 students, creating a total student body in Boise of approximately 250 by 2016 (Fiscal Year 2017).
- Enrollment at Moscow would be managed to converge at approximately the same level of 250, creating a balance of faculty and students at each location while settling and sustaining the student body in Moscow at the approximate functional level of the Menard Law Building as adapted to modern legal education needs. Admissions would be a unified process, administered in Moscow, with the College determining where entering students would begin their studies.
- The two-location law school would deliver a core J.D. program at both locations, with customary “bar course” coverage at both locations. (Such courses are often taught to multiple sections of students, by multiple professors, at larger law schools.) In addition, however, the two-location school would feature distinctive and complementary specialties at each location. Emphases in Moscow would take advantage of the land grant campus and would include natural resources, environmental law, public lands, and federal/state tribal relations. Emphases in Boise would take advantage of the metropolitan location and would include business-related specialties, entrepreneurship, and intellectual property.
- In Boise, the Idaho Supreme Court has offered the College a once-in-a-generation opportunity to collaborate on a multi-purpose physical facility — the “Idaho Law Learning Center” (ILLC) — that will provide synergy and efficiency. The ILLC would house a greatly improved State Law Library (an asset to the general public as well as to the legal profession) and would serve as a location for collaborative endeavors among the branches of government and as well as a base for public educational outreach on the rule of law in a democratic society. The ILLC would be nationally distinctive and would be designed to accommodate a long-term maximum of no more than approximately 250 law students.
- Renovation and expansion of the Capitol Annex (old Ada County Courthouse), situated on the Capitol Mall directly between the Supreme Court and the Idaho Statehouse, is currently the leading ILLC possibility. The College could begin to occupy portions of it during the fall of 2010, when the initial, modest-sized entering class is enrolled, and could occupy it more fully in phases as the building is renovated and expanded.
- Meanwhile, upgrades of the Menard Law Building, and a modest expansion of its footprint, would make it vital and attractive for current methods of law teaching, research, and service, while assuring that it could continue to serve as the administrative center of the statewide law school. During the past three years the College of Law has already spent or committed more than $2 million on improvements to the Menard Law Building and to the furniture, fixtures, and equipment within it.
- The eight-year span of this implementation plan reflects a careful, conservative estimate of a realistically expeditious time frame for developing the academic program and the statewide student enrollment while maintaining our commitment to quality. After 2016 (FY17), the stable level of student enrollment and the programmatic advantages of the two-location operation are expected to make the law school increasingly attractive and even more selective and competitive.
- As reflected in detailed budget spreadsheets appended to the plan, the establishment of the statewide law school with two locations would entail an investment of approximately $6 million in the recurring operating budget of the College, which now stands at approximately $8 million. Of this $6 million, about $3.4 million would come from legislative appropriations; the remainder from student fees, private giving, and grants and contracts. Student fees are projected to increase approximately 2% above inflation after an existing five-year plan for fee adjustments is completed in FY 2011.
- As further reflected in the budget spreadsheets, the College’s collaboration with the Idaho Supreme Court would include joining the Court in the one-time appropriation request, currently estimated at approximately $29-30 million, for the Idaho Law Learning Center. This would be a capital request by the Supreme Court, representing the first major capital request by the Judicial Branch since the Supreme Court Building itself was constructed four decades ago. In addition, a continuing annual appropriation of approximately $660,000 would cover occupancy costs related to legal education in the Idaho Law Learning Center. Investments in Menard Building enhancements, as well as in furniture, fixtures, and technology in both Moscow and Boise, would be accomplished by the College of Law without any further appropriations, utilizing a capital reserve established with net funds generated in the College’s operating budget.
- The operating and capital budgets are conservative; they represent cost-conscious investments in a multi-purpose expansion of legal education to meet the growing needs facing the State of Idaho as the College of Law enters its second century. By FY 2017, the statewide legal education program would be fully in place. It would feature a law school that is academically stronger, that features a unique partnership with the courts and state government, that is serving Idaho’s economic and legal needs more fully, and that is providing educational opportunity commensurate with Idaho’s growth.
Where Do UI Law Students Go When They Graduate?
Late in each calendar year, the College of Law Office of Career Development conducts a thorough, person-by-person survey of that year’s graduating class in order to determine the graduates’ employment status. The survey has been successful in obtaining information from more than 98% of the graduates. Each year some graduates, for personal reasons, do not immediately seek employment; others go directly into full-time study for post-J.D. degrees. From 2001 to 2007, among the respondents who were in the job market, 94.1% had secured employment at the time of the survey, 3.6% were studying full-time for the bar examination, and 2.3% were continuing to seek employment.
Within the employed group, approximately 59.3% of the reported jobs were in Idaho, with the remainder in the State of Washington (12.8%), Utah (8.8%), and other states or jurisdictions (approximately 19% combined). Among the graduates reporting employment in Idaho, approximately 43.2% were located in Boise (Ada County) while 56.8% were located elsewhere in the state. The percentage obtaining employment in Boise has been rising; in fact, the percentage in 2007 was 53%. Other Idaho cities where graduates reported employment from 2001 to 2007 included Pocatello (7.6%), Coeur d’Alene and Caldwell (each 6.4%), Idaho Falls (4.9%), Twin Falls (5.3%), Moscow (5.5%); and other Idaho communities such as Wallace, Sandpoint, Grangeville, Cascade, Eagle, Blackfoot, Hailey, and Driggs (combined for approximately 20.7%).
Among the graduates who found initial employment in Boise from 2003 to 2007, 45% began their careers as judicial clerks while 28% took their initial jobs in private law firms and the other 27% went to public agencies or into non-practice settings. At locations outside Boise, 28.2% of the graduates went into judicial clerkships, 36.2% into private practice, and 35.6% into public agencies or non-practice settings.
Further information about employment trends and opportunities for University of Idaho law graduates may be obtained from Anne-Marie Fulfer, Director of Career Development (firstname.lastname@example.org).