Loyola is highly regarded, particularly in healthcare law and part-time law. What are some secrets to running a successful law school that people underestimate?
The job of running a law school is mostly about empowering people who have great ideas and energy to pursue those ideas, whether it is someone who has a new model of teaching they want to pursue or some of the great scholars we have.
Health law is a great example. We have a spectacular health law institute, one of the nation’s best, and they’ve been unbelievably innovative. For example, we recognized the future of legal education is not just creating lawyers, but providing legal education to people who’ll use it in their careers even though they won’t become lawyers. For example, we have a very successful degree program called MJ – Master of Jurisprudence – and the largest one is in health law. It is for people who work in hospitals – doctors, nurses, insurance executives, etc. – to spend some time learning enough law to help them in their careers. And we also made the successful decision a few years ago to move those degree programs mostly online to accommodate the busy schedules of people like that, so we now have the most non-lawyer and most online students of any law school in the country.
And that’s because of the entrepreneurial spirit of our health law faculty. My job is to support them and help them implement their great ideas. There are so many people at Loyola who are creative and devoted to our students. And when we’re able to implement new ideas to improve our school or what our students can take advantage of, that’s really exciting.
What final advice do you have for prospective applicants to law school?
It is really important for people to consider law school carefully. Don’t go to law school just because you don’t know what else to do. It is not true that legal education is dying or in really terrible shape. In some ways, it is a great time to be a law student because of the smaller classes, greater level of experiential learning, and the dynamic nature of what we’re doing now.
So I’m glad, really, when people don’t go to law school when it wouldn’t have been the right decision for them. But I’m sad when people, for whom it would’ve been the right decision to go, don’t go because of all this background noise. And so I urge people interested in the law to talk to people who are lawyers, people in law school and make the right decision for them.