Louisiana College’s law school opening delayed until fall 2013
Gannett Louisiana News
and Town Talk reports
SHREVEPORT — Louisiana College has decided to wait until the fall of 2013 to open its new law school in Shreveport.
Just last month, J. Michael Johnson, the founding dean of LC’s Judge Paul Pressler School of Law, said, “There’s a lot of moving parts, but we’re on target for our starting date” of fall 2012. But he also noted at that time that the school was not “wed to 2012.”
Officials now say waiting until 2013 makes more sense.
That gives LC more time to renovate the Joe D. Waggonner Federal Building in downtown Shreveport to house the law school, which will cost about $20 million, and to recruit students, Johnson said.
“It’s still possible to open it in 2012 if we rush it, but we all looked and said, ‘Why would we rush it?’” Johnson said.
Johnson said last month that the college hopes to raise
$22.7 million for the law school, and it was “almost a third of the way there, which is a little ahead of schedule.”
Meanwhile, work behind the scenes has been coming along steadily with the move to the new location and the hiring of a handful of faculty members.
The law school had been set to move into the CNB/United Mercantile Building in Shreveport, but after some consideration it was deemed too small to house the entire program, according to Johnson.
“It wasn’t well-suited once we looked into it,” he said. “Parking is also an issue.”
The school now will open at the Waggonner building, a perfect place since it still is close to the courthouses downtown, Johnson said.
Although the building wasn’t originally considered due to asbestos concerns, removal is going to cost less than anticipated, he said.
The new building, which has about 158,000 square feet, has more parking spaces, around 300, for students and faculty.
Johnson said the building still has the original court structure and awe-factor that federal courthouses usually do. It will be perfect, he said, for would-be attorneys and mock trials.
The building has been vacant for about 12 years and contained asbestos, necessitating major renovation.
The move to the new building was a major factor in delaying the opening.
LC first announced plans for the law school in 2007, with a projected opening date of 2009.
So far, a handful of faculty members have been hired. Among these are former deans and presidents of other law schools, professors and former attorneys to large nonprofit organizations. More will be hired within the next couple of years.
The faculty members so far are:
»Bruce W. Green, director of academic affairs and faculty development and professor of law.
»Larry O’Neil Putt, professor of law.
»Frederick D. Jones, director of the student success program and lawyering skills instructor.
»Michelle C. Rickert, assistant dean for admissions and financial aid.
»Peter J. Richards, associate professor of law.
Green is a founding dean at Liberty University School of Law. He’s been through the process of starting a law school from the ground up. He said the reason he wants to be part of this law school is the professionalism of Louisiana College.
“What made me want to be a part of it from the first day was when I met with administration,” Green said. “I was impressed with them and the fact that they really wanted to do it right.”
At the Pressler law school, he is in charge of nuts-and-bolts planning with the faculty. He said that while the opening is still two years away, it’s not a lot of time, though from the outside, it will look like nothing is happening for awhile.
“We have been preparing since the announcement,” he said. “To the outside looking in, it will typically look like it’s moving slowly though we aren’t. Then it will appear like we’re moving quickly, and then the school will open.”