WITH A MERGER
by Philip J.
I am as enthused by the challenge of this deanship as I have been by any
other of my career: helping to
integrate one of
’s oldest independent law schools with one of
’s great public research universities. Each
institution brings something extraordinary to the enterprise:
from The Dickinson School of Law, its re
able history; from
, its world-class academic stature and enormous resources and potential.
Precisely because of its re
able history, however, The Dickinson School of Law also brings a hurdle of sorts
to successful integration: an alumni
base that is skeptical of the need for a merger that follows more than 165 years
of proud and successful independence.
My essay departs somewhat from the conventions that have come to
’s excellent annual symposium on leadership in legal education.
Most deans tend to focus not on the specific challenges and opportunities
that confront their particular law schools, but on helpful principles of
governance that can be extrapolated for application anywhere.
I have benefited from these essays, but I’m afraid that my own
experience as a dean has been too short (just a year) and too focused for me to
make such an offering. Consequently,
I chose to write about the challenge that has consumed my attention for the past
twelve months and that hopefully will continue to consume it for a few years to
come: the goals and impact of
integrating The Dickinson School of Law with Penn State.
I will suggest that the substantial intellectual resources of a major
research university offer an especially important path, given certain
developments in law practice and legal inquiry, to excellence and innovation in
legal education and scholarship.
1. Some History
The Dickinson School of Law was already 21 years old in 1855 when
was founded. It is the oldest law
and the fifth oldest in the
. The first United States Senator
was a graduate of The Dickinson School of Law.
’s Civil War Governor was a graduate of The Dickinson School of Law.
Our first Native American student graduated in 1909.
Our first African-American student enrolled in 1911.
Since that time, Dickinson School of Law graduates have included four
more governors, two more U.S. Senators, more than 100 federal and state judges
(including appointees just this year to U.S. District Courts in Pennsylvania and
to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit), and many more top lawyers
and civic and business leaders than I possibly could name (although many of
their names would be familiar). The
first Secretary of the new U.S. Department of Homeland Security is our grad
’72). The first woman to serve as
Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
is our grad (Sylvia Rambo ’62). The
founder of one of the nation’s leading law firms led by African-Americans is
our grad (Jesse Arnelle ’62, who founded Arnelle, Hastie, McGee, Willis &
). The first woman President of the
Pennsylvania Bar Association is our grad (Leslie Miller ’77). The
President of AOL Broadband is our grad (Lisa Hook ’83).
The first elected Attorney General of Pennsylvania is our grad (LeRoy
Zimmerman ’56). The owner of the
New Jersey Nets basketball team is our grad (Lewis Katz ’66).
And so on.
Why, many of our graduates wonder, would anyone want to change anything
that might affect this grand tradition?
One of the interesting characteristics of Dickinson Law classes for the
first 155-or-so years of the law school’s existence (i.e., until the 1990s) is
the recurrence from year to year of the same mix of differences and similarities
among class members. The differences
were mainly in economic background; the similarities were geographic and
scholastic. A significant number of
students in each class were from working class families, often mining families.
These students were first-generation lawyers, and frequently
first-generation college educated. Many
other students were second or third generation college educated, and sometimes
second or third generation Dickinson Law. At
the same time, almost all of the students had grown-up in
, or in nearby areas of
. Further, and perhaps most
significant, almost all of the students were very strong academically.
Throughout this period, The Dickinson School of Law often was the law
school of choice for top students from throughout
and regions nearby. When law
schools began recording average GPA and LSAT scores of their entering students,
it became clear that these traditional
students, from the top to bottom of each class, consistently presented academic
credentials that were among the top third of law students nationally.
These credentials made for very strong classes, year after year after
year. These were hard working, high
achieving students before they came to the law school; they were hard working,
high achieving students while enrolled at the law school; and they continued to
be hard working and high achieving as graduates.
In a very real way, the excellence of the law school was sustained during
its first century and a half by the fact that it enjoyed as applicants for
admission a steady and abundant stream of top regional students.
2. The Challenge
This strong local preference changed swiftly and dramatically beginning
in the very early 1990s – so swiftly, in fact, that many of our alumni still
are not aware of the change. In
1990, the year before U.S. News & World Report began publishing its annual
survey of law schools, the law school received its traditionally high number of
applications from top regional students and offered admission to fewer than 25
percent of them. By 1997, just seven
years and six U.S. News surveys later, the number of applicants had dropped by
almost 50 percent and the law school was offering admission to more than 60
percent of them. Whether because of
U.S. News & World Report’s annual survey, or because stand-alone
independent law schools no longer were able to compete as ably for law students,
or simply because the nature of competition for law students had changed –
whatever the reason, many top students stopped thinking locally when applying to
law school, and The Dickinson School of Law lost its traditional sustenance.
Fewer and fewer applicants each year presented the law school’s
traditionally high academic profile. By
the late 1990s, the top quartile LSAT and GPA scores of the law school’s
entering classes had dropped beneath the bottom quartile LSAT and GPA scores of
only a decade earlier. The diversity
of the student body (a perennial challenge for the law school) plummeted as
well. By 2000, there were no black
males in the law school’s entering class; there were only four black males in
the entire student body. The law
school’s entire minority population was only 7.6 percent of the student body.
The law school continued to strive to fill its seats with achievers, but
for an ever-increasing percentage of the student body, superior academic
performance no longer was the principal index of that assessment.
is one of the world’s preeminent research universities; it is one of the
handful of research-intensive universities consistently at the top of National
Science Foundation statistics on research expenditures.
’s graduate departments are, by peer ranking, among the top few in the world;
many are among the top ten; all are top tier.
’s commitment to the meaningful diversity of its students, staff, and faculty
is strong, sustained and continually reevaluated to ensure its improvement.
provides a concentrated, intense and diverse intellectual community found only
at other world-class research universities; its rich and varied cultural
resources rival those of the world’s great cities.
Its worldwide name recognition is high, its football team is great, and
until its merger with The Dickinson School of Law concluded in mid-2000, it did
not have a law school. It did,
however, have a President, Graham Spanier, who wanted a law school, and a Board
of Trustees Chair at the time, Jesse Arnelle, who happened to be a graduate of
The Dickinson School of Law (Class of ’62).
4. The Solution
Fortunately, my predecessor, Dean Peter Glenn, and the law school’s
Board of Governors, did not let the richness of the law school’s proud and
independent history obscure their understanding of the jeopardy in which the law
school had been placed by the difficulties it began experiencing in the 90s.
Just as fortunately, Penn State University President Graham Spanier and
the Penn State Board of Trustees did not let the law school’s recent
difficulties obscure their understanding of the law school’s rich history or
their vision of a law school restored to the academic standards of one of the
world’s great research universities. The
merger was consummated. The task now
is to fulfill its considerable promise.
Just as U.S. News & World Report may have foretold (and contributed
to) the difficulties The Dickinson School of Law experienced during the 1990s as
a stand-alone independent law school, so too it foretells, in my view, the
future of the law school as a result of its merger with Penn State:
virtually all top 35 or so law schools in the U.S. News ranking are units
of research-intensive universities consistently at the top of NSF research
expenditure rankings; this is not true of most of the other 150 ABA-approved law
schools. While hardly validating
U.S. News’ methodology or justifying its effects, this fact does suggest a
direct (although not exclusive) relationship between excellence and innovation
in legal scholarship and education, on the one hand, and a law school’s status
as a unit of a world-class research university, on the other.
5. The Strategy
Our strategy for the integration of these two great institutions is
both obvious and simple: hang tight
and never let go of
’s long coattails of history and
’s long coattails of academic stature. A
simple descriptive slogan now captures our new potential: “Uniting
with One of
’s Great Research Universities.” The impact of this message has been
immediate. Within months of the merger we have been able to recruit, in direct
competition with some of the nation’s top law schools, several internationally
and nationally prominent professional staff.[ii]
This success, in turn, has influenced prospective students:
this year’s applicant pool increased by more than 40 percent over the
previous year (to the highest number of applicants in the law school’s
history), and the diversity of next year’s entering class skyrocketed to 22
My point here is not simply to brag about the law school (although, like
all deans, I enjoy that), but to demonstrate the nearly universal assumption of
excellence and high academic standing that accompanies major research university
What’s especially exciting for the law school is the substance that
underlies this assumption.
Unlike most other graduate disciplines, a law school’s curriculum tends
to be organized by broadly defined societal problems.[v]
For example, law schools offer classes in human rights, antitrust,
corporate governance, international law, intellectual property, law and
medicine, Internet law, dispute resolution, law and biotechnology, and so forth.
And precisely because of its problem-based organization, the law
curriculum (just like law practice) draws naturally and heavily on other
disciplines in the pursuit of its inquiries.
Many law classes, for example, are enriched enormously by economics-based
inquiries, others by cultural or area studies, others by the arts and sciences,
others by psychology or industrial behavior, and so forth.
The reverse also can be true, even if the relationship is not as deep.
Science, engineering and the arts increasingly interface with
intellectual property law, cultural and area studies and political science with
international law, medicine with torts, education with disability law, and so
forth. The degree to which
university research and industry increasingly are interwoven also suggests
multiple cross-disciplinary synergies with law.
In a major research university setting, these synergies can be pursued
and delivered to law students in a variety of ways.
Joint degree programs and research park internships for students are two
examples; collaborative research opportunities and cross-disciplinary symposia
for faculty are two more. There are
other ways as well. Over time, we
will be cross-listing in our law curriculum and encouraging our students to
enroll (consistent with ABA standards) in non-law classes - taught by leading
professors - that are directly relevant to the practice of law and/or to the
societal problems our students are likely to confront as jurists and civic
leaders. Similarly, we will be
encouraging law professors to offer advanced classes outside of the law school
– e.g., intellectual property for scientists and engineers, human research
principles for medical students and others – not only to enrich the
curriculums of our university colleagues, but to enrich the scholarship,
teaching and intellectual pursuits of our law professors.
We also will be pursuing and making joint appointments with other leading
university departments of legal scholars who hold advanced degrees in other
disciplines and whose non-law specialties influence their legal scholarship and
teaching (and vice versa). Clearly,
the potential avenues of collaboration and exchange will be as abundant as our
I believe that two developments with which legal education increasingly
must contend are likely to benefit particularly from our new research university
status. One is the
internationalization of law and legal education, the other the increasing
relevance to law and legal inquiry of the subject matters of science.
With respect to the former, the world has now experienced well over a
decade during which geographic and political boundaries no longer constrain in a
significant way the flow of commerce or the practice of law.
Transnational law practice is commonplace; law harmonization efforts are
prolific; and developing nations the world over are moving slowly toward the
rule of law. Although the demand for
legal services in the
has contracted somewhat after years of significant growth, the demand for legal
services outside of the
is booming and likely will continue to grow as national barriers to trade in
services decline. These trends
demand that legal education increasingly equip new lawyers with a deep
appreciation and awareness of different cultures, different legal traditions,
different expectations, and different notions of truth and justice.
Duke University President Nan Keohane has observed that major research
universities have been “stubbornly” cosmopolitan throughout their history,
and that they have served as one of “the most effective forces for breaking
down parochialism and isolationism.”[vi]
I find it difficult to conceive of an educational setting more conducive
to the exploration of the internationalization of law and legal inquiry.
At the same time, law and legal inquiry are becoming increasingly
science-dependent and interdisciplinary. Courtroom
practice today regularly involves scientific proof and counter-proof and
extended testimony and evaluation by expert witnesses.
Regulatory and policy decisions of great importance to our environment,
to our health, and to our security hinge more and more on questions of
cutting-edge science and technology. Industries
unknown to the world only a decade ago today exploit the advances of basic
research in the biological sciences and information technologies, and this
development, in turn, has given new dimension and prominence to the law of
intellectual property. The National
Academy of Sciences recently published a report declaring “A Convergence of
Science and Law.”[vii]
I think that title captures nicely
the rich and ever increasing intermingling of these fields.
No curricular or programmatic innovation ever will substitute for the
analytical thinking, sound judgment, and high ethics with which our students
must approach all of the problems and challenges they will confront as lawyers.
But if legal education is going to keep pace with the
internationalization of legal practice and the increasing intermingling of
science and law, we must endeavor as educators to provide our students with more
interdisciplinary classes, more joint degree opportunities, more faculty with
cross-disciplinary scholarly interests, more faculty with joint appointments in
other disciplines, and more faculty of different nationalities.
In my view, a world-class research university is an especially important
and conducive environment for the pursuit of these innovations.
Dean and Donald J. Farage Professor of Law,
of Law. Dean McConnaughay
is the first dean appointed by
following its merger with The Dickinson School of Law.
He became dean on
July 1, 2002
For example, during 2003 alone, Tom Carbonneau, one of the world’s
top scholars of arbitration law, joined us as our Elsie deRenzo and Samuel
P. Orlando Distinguished Professor of Law; Tiyanjana Maluwa, the current
Legal Advisor to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, former Legal
Advisor of the Organization of African Unity, and former distinguished
professor of law at the University of Cape Town and University of Pretoria
Centre for Human Rights, is joining us as our H. Laddie and Linda P.
Montague Professor of Law; Carlos Ball, one of the nation’s leading
scholars of gay rights and the author of the important recent text The
Morality of Gay Rights (Routlege 2003) joined us as a Professor of Law;
and Julie Goldscheid, the former General Counsel of the nation’s largest
victim advocacy group, Safe Horizon, and Acting Legal Director of the NOW
Legal Defense and Education Fund, joined us as an Assistant Professor of
Janice Austin, the Chair of the LSAC Committee on Diversity and
former Assistant Dean for Admissions at the University of Pennsylvania Law
School and at the
, Hastings School of Law, joined us as The Dickinson School of Law’s first
Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid.
I benchmark our progress on this score against the law school’s new
peer group, the Big Ten/CIC, and when I see great law schools like those of
Northwestern, Chicago, Michigan and Illinois fielding entering classes that
consistently are between 20 and 30 percent diverse year after year after
year, I know that high academic standing and meaningful diversity go hand in
hand – one is not likely without the other.
Although my essay
obviously emphasizes the advantages of major research university status to a
law school’s scholarly standing, I do not intend to suggest scholarly
renown either as the singular mission of legal education or as the sole path
to excellence in legal education.
I use the word “problems” here in its sense of questions raised
for consideration and solution, not in its sense of sources of distress.
Harvey Brooks has made a similar observation about the problem-based
organization of professional school curriculums generally.
See Harvey Brooks, Current Criticisms of Research
Universities, in THE
IN A TIME OF DISCONTENT 242 (Jonathan Cole, Elinor Barba, Stephen Graubard,
Nannerl O. Keohane, The Mission of a Research University, in
THE RESEARCH UNIVERSITY IN A TIME OF DISCONTENT, supra note 5, at
A CONVERGENCE OF SCIENCE AND LAW: A SUMMARY REPORT OF THE FIRST MEETING OF
THE SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND LAW PANEL (The National Academies Press 2001).