LSU-Law Center merger on track for January

Advocate staff file photo by Richard Alan Hannon -- The LSU Law Center Show caption
Advocate staff file photo by Richard Alan Hannon -- The LSU Law Center

January completion expected

LSU is forging ahead with plans to reunite its law school and main campus, and leaders say the process is on track to be completed by Jan. 1.

LSU’s Board of Supervisors approved the plan at its March meeting, and the Law Center this month submitted plans for the realignment to the American Bar Association, which ultimately must sign off on the law school’s new status as part of LSU’s flagship, rather than a separate entity in the LSU system.

“I’m truly pleased and excited with how this has proceeded so far,” Law Center Chancellor Jack Weiss said.

Weiss said he believes the new framework being developed will give the Law Center stability — setting it up as many other law schools are established, within flagship universities across the country. The LSU Law Center, located on LSU’s Baton Rouge campus, was originally part of LSU until it was separated out in 1977.

Weiss said plans in the works will allow the Law Center to retain the ability to make law school-specific decisions, such as on courses or programs, on its own.

“We at the law school feel that we very much need to be able to continue to operate flexibly and nimbly in the highly competitive law-school market,” he said.

He called the reabsorption into LSU the “best of both worlds.”

When the realignment is complete, Weiss will report to LSU’s provost. He said any disagreements, if they arise, can be handled by LSU President and Chancellor F. King Alexander.

“We think there are undeniable significant benefits to both the law school and the main campus from our reintegrating with the main campus and having a closer working relationship,” Weiss said.

He said he hasn’t gotten much feedback on the move. The changes will be largely structural, though Weiss said they will provide cost-saving efficiencies and give students of each campus more opportunities — either through law students taking advantage of classes and other services through LSU or vice versa.

A prelaw program also is expected to be created. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Committee on Colleges will have to sign off on the proposal, in addition to the American Bar Association, before it takes effect.

“I’ve tried my best to communicate to our faculty, students staff and alumni that, if this is handled correctly, it will be a great benefit to the law school,” Weiss said. “Thus far, I think I’ve been proved right in telling our community that I do think that it is possible to have the benefits of this closer relationship without giving up the flexibility that we really need.”

Alexander, who has been a proponent of the plan, has praised it as a way to increase academic and research opportunities for students and staff, while building unity on campus.

The Law Center has about 600 students and 40 faculty.

Weiss said he thinks the realignment will strengthen the relationship between LSU and the Law Center.

“In general, I think it’s very important and will be very beneficial for the Law Center to think of itself as LSU and for LSU to think of it as a part of it,” he said.

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