The Paul M. Hebert Law Center will rejoin LSU A&M as part of the flagship campus this year after a unanimous decision from the LSU Board of Supervisors at its meeting at LSU Shreveport on Friday.
The has beLSU Law Center en an autonomous campus within the LSU System since 1977 when it split after three years of efforts by then-dean Paul Hebert. It will rejoin the University with some provisions made in order for the school to maintain its accreditation and traditions, said Jack Weiss, chancellor of the Law Center. The merge is expected to be completed by 2015.
Weiss said the Law Center would need to maintain the separation and freedom to make “law school-appropriate decisions,” and there are standards for how separate law schools need to be. He said the specifics and details of how the school will be joined with LSU A&M will be worked out in the future.
The realignment with the University will allow the school to better compete in today’s law school world, Weiss said. In the last 10 years, the number of students applying to law schools in the state of Louisiana has dropped by more than half, meaning the school has to compete more with others and vie for a chunk of the now-smaller student group.
The Law Center is required to uphold the American Bar Association’s standards for accreditation of law schools and will also have to be approved by the University’s accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Weiss said the emphasis in legal education today is for students to obtain a practical law education, which he believes relies on implementing studies in other fields, and joining with the University would make that easier.
LSU President F. King Alexander said the addition of the Law Center to the University would allow the school to develop a long-neglected pre-law program and communicate with more transparency with the Law Center. Alexander said the two academic units would be working side by side to work on creating the best program possible
Weiss said the merger will not necessarily be like that of the LSU AgCenter and the University last year when Bill Richardson became vice president for agriculture and dean of the College of Agriculture because Alexander’s vision is for the administration to adapt to the needs of each academic unit, tailoring the merger to the Law Center’s needs.