New Law School Association President On The State of Legal Education

Valparaiso Law

Indiana-Based Law School Will Continue Operations

Law students of a struggling Indiana law school may finally be able to receive their degrees.

Valparaiso Law School announced that it plans to remain open through the 2019-2020 academic year to implement a teach-out plan for its last crop of students slated for graduation, the Indiana Lawyer reports.

“Valparaiso University has submitted plans to the American Bar Association and the Higher Learning Commission that detail the University’s intention to continue to teach in Valparaiso, Indiana, next year the currently enrolled law students who have not yet completed their J.D. degrees,” Nicole Niemi, Valparaiso spokeswoman, tells Indiana Lawyer. “The University is currently working with these accrediting agencies toward final approval of its plans.”

Past Troubles

Back in October, the law school announced that it would be ceasing all operations after school officials searched for alternative options to staying open for nearly a year.

During that time, Valparaiso University President Mark Heckler had said the law school was looking at options for students slated to graduate in 2020.

One of those options was a proposed merger with Middle Tennessee State University, which was eventually rejected.

Despite the rejection, law school officials stayed hopeful that they would be able to find an alternative option for their students.

“We are truly grateful for the good work and dedication of our law students, faculty and staff,” Niemi told the Chicago Tribune. “We will continue to provide the opportunity for all currently enrolled students at Valparaiso University Law School to complete their legal education through Valparaiso University Law School in a timely manner.”

Enrolling Low Performing Applicants

Part of the trouble Valparaiso Law has run into may be attributed to its admissions practices.

The law school was officially sanctioned by the ABA back in 2016 for admitting students who were unlikely to succeed, according to Inside Higher Ed.

With legal education hit hard by the 2008 recession, many law schools chose to enroll students who didn’t meet previous standards of admission.

“Law schools were forced make enrollment decisions,” Kyle McEntee, executive director of Law School Transparency, a consumer advocacy nonprofit, tells Inside Higher Ed. “Many schools made choices to enroll people who had no business being in law school. Their predictors showed a high likelihood of [those students] not passing the bar exam, which makes it textbook exploitation.”

Sources: Indiana Lawyer, Inside Higher Ed, Inside Higher Ed