First Monday - September 4, 2012
In this issue:
- College Adds Curricular Emphasis in Business Law and Entrepreneurism
- Entering Class Reflects Downturn in Applications, but College Adheres to Admissions Standards
- New Instructors Bring Real-World Experience to the Classroom
Law students who wish to adorn their Juris Doctor degree with evidence of specialized study have a new opportunity at the University of Idaho. The College of Law, which already offers curricular emphases in natural resources and environmental law, Native American law, and litigation and dispute resolution -- along with general Juris Doctor curriculum – now gives students a chance to pursue an emphasis in business law and entrepreneurism (BLE).
The BLE emphasis provides a structured set of courses, faculty mentorship, and practical skills opportunities for students who wish to develop substantive knowledge and practical experience in business law and entrepreneurship. Students will focus their coursework on one of the following tracks within the BLE emphasis: commercial law, enterprise organizations, or intellectual property and technology. Students will be assisted in making and implementing this choice by the following faculty advisors: Professors Mark Anderson, Benjamin Beard, Annemarie Bridy, Wendy Couture, Lee Dillion, Sarah Haan, Monique Lillard, Barbara Lock, Deborah McIntosh, Jack Miller, Michael Satz, and Richard Seamon.
TheBLE emphasis requires a combination of mandatory meetings, a set of required doctrinal and skills courses, additional elective courses within the chosen track, and a major project of research and writing. Students satisfying the BLE requirements will receive a special notation on their Juris Doctor degree transcripts. The BLE emphasis is available to students in Moscow and as well as to students completing their third year of law study in Boise. The emphasis reflects the increasingly important role of lawyers as enablers of economic development through the practice of transactional law and through direct involvement in starting and sustaining business enterprises.
The College of Law has enrolled an entering class of 102 students, as of the start of classes in August, 2012. The enrollment is down from 130 entering students in 2011, 132 in 2010, and 114 in 2009, although it is on par with the 102 students enrolled in 2008 and 104 in 2007. The 2012 admissions cycle saw a decrease of 14.4% in the number of applicants nationwide to American Bar Association-approved law schools, compared to 2011. Reasons include a gradually improving economy (inducing prospective students to pursue employment rather than seeking additional education) and intensive media coverage of students -- largely at private law schools – incurring high debts and experiencing difficulty finding jobs that will service those debts. The University of Idaho College of Law was affected by these forces, albeit to a lesser degree. The College of Law received 595 completed applications in 2012, a decrease of 10.3% from 2011.
When the College determined that applications for the 2012 entering class would be down, it decided to plan on a smaller enrollment this year in order to maintain quality and selectivity. As a result, despite the application downturn and intensified competition among American law schools, Idaho’s 2012 entering class, measured at the start of fall classes, has a median LSAT of 153 (approximately the 55th national percentile), down just one point from 154 the previous year, and a median undergraduate grade point average of 3.20 compared to 3.25 in 2011. The class contains 38 women (approximately 37%, compared to 38% last year) and 13 students of color (approximately 13%, compared to 12% last year). The class contains 60 students who qualify as Idaho residents, and 42 nonresidents (many of whom also have an Idaho connection). The students hail from 14 states, including Idaho, as well as Canada. Their ages range from 20 (a student who accelerated the baccalaureate program) to 54.
As noted in last month’s “First Monday,” the cost of a legal education at the University of Idaho has been going up, but it remains attractive in comparison to most other regional law schools. The tuition and professional fees for Idaho resident students in the current (2012-13) academic year amount to $15,036 per year, while the total for nonresidents is $27,824. The public law schools of Montana, Wyoming, and Nebraska charge lower resident tuition (although Nebraska’s nonresident tuition is higher). All other public law schools in the region – Utah, UNLV, Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon, Washington, and Colorado -- charge approximately 50% to 100% more than Idaho. All ABA-approved private schools in the region (with the exception of BYU, which has a tuition structure based on church affiliation) charge substantially more, with the range (based on last year’s known figures) extending from $34,570 at Willamette to #39,810 at Seattle.
The University of Idaho is endeavoring, within the limits of its resources, to provide financial aid that will keep legal education even more affordable, enabling students to graduate with manageable debts. In the 2012 admissions cycle, the College of Law was able to provide partial scholarships and out-of-state tuition reductions to 38% of the entering class.
Further information about the admissions process may be obtained from Carole Wells (email@example.com), Director of Admissions, and Jeffrey Dodge (firstname.lastname@example.org), Associate Dean for Students and Administration, at the College of Law.
In the 2012-13 academic year, while Professors Elizabeth Brandt and Maureen Laflin are on full-year sabbaticals, two experienced members of the bench and bar have joined our academic community as visiting faculty:
- The Honorable Earl Blower, recently retired Magistrate Judge of the Seventh Judicial District, State of Idaho, brings his judicial experience and perspectives to courses that include family law, community property, and wills and trusts – subjects that regularly arise in the Magistrate Division of the District Court. Judge Blower received his baccalaureate degree with honors from Utah State University and received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Utah in 1979, earning a place on the law review. He practiced law in Hawaii (primarily in an insurance defense federal practice), and then moved to Idaho Falls where he engaged in a general civil litigation practice. He served on the Seventh District bench for twenty years, from 1991 to 2011.
- Jessica Long is the full-time faculty member responsible for our Lawyering Process (pretrial litigation) course as well as for courses within the Legal Aid Clinic. She attended the University of Colorado, where she earned her Juris Doctor degree in 2000. She started her legal career in Cheyenne, Wyoming, practicing family law in Colorado as well as Wyoming. She moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where she worked for the Wisconsin Office of Lawyer Regulation, investigating allegations of lawyer misconduct, and in the Madison City Attorney’s Office. During her service to the city, she handled a variety of municipal issues and served as lead prosecutor in the juvenile court. After moving to Idaho, she worked as an adjunct instructor in Lawyering Process until assuming her current full-time responsibility for the course. She is also a certified family law mediator in Idaho.