During its March meeting, the LSU Board of Supervisors approved the realignment of the Paul M. Hebert Law Center as an academic unit with LSU, effective Wednesday, April 1.
“Since 1977, the Paul M. Hebert Law Center has operated as a separate campus, but by realigning with LSU, we can better serve the needs of students and faculty,” said LSU President F. King Alexander. “By fully integrating the law center into LSU, shared services will be enhanced, significant interdisciplinary academic and research opportunities will be realized and there will be more collaboration across campus.”
The board had approved the realignment of the law center at their March 2014 meeting, subject to approval by the Committee of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar of the American Bar Association, or ABA, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, or SACSCOC. The ABA agreed with realignment of the law center at its meeting on March 13-14, and SACSCOC approved realignment of the law center as an academic unit within LSU at its meeting on March 16-18.
“The ‘remarriage’ of the law center to the main campus after nearly 40 years of separation marks the dawning of a new era for our law school,” said Law Chancellor and Dean Jack Weiss. “As a full member of the LSU A&M family once again, we can provide a broad array of enhanced opportunities for law students to hone their skills in other disciplines and for main campus students to become conversant with the law.
“Likewise, eliminating the institutional barriers that have separated law center and main campus faculties for so many years will stimulate valuable interdisciplinary research. And, of course, in these times of enormous financial challenge for all of Louisiana higher education, we hope to minimize operational duplication and to produce cost savings so we can continue to be one of the top value law schools in the nation.”
The realignment is expected to produce creative coordination of academic programing, enhancing both educational opportunities for current students and undergraduate and law student recruitment; greater unity of institutional communications and messaging; development of additional opportunities for coordination of funded research; improved coordination of international programs, broadening funding opportunities, international student recruitment and student educational experiences; and potential for additional efficiencies and cost savings beyond those currently achieved through the many goods and services already shared by LSU and the Law Center.
“We anticipate this realignment to allow more interaction among campus programs such as science, engineering, business and economics, to name a few,” said LSU Executive Vice President & Provost Stuart Bell. “We’ve been working closely with the law center’s administration to make sure the realignment takes into account the specialized nature of professional legal education, and we feel that the process will enhance both the law center and the rest of our academic programs.”
One new opportunity that has already been launched is the partnership between the LSU College of Humanities & Social Sciences and the law center to offer a new 3+3 program this fall, allowing students to receive a bachelor’s and law degree in six years. The program provides highly motivated students with a fast path to law school. Instead of taking the traditional seven-year route, the 3+3 program will allow students to complete major coursework – including core classes required for law school – in addition to other coursework to obtain a bachelor’s degree in three years.
Other similar programs or early admission opportunities are in the works.
“In the months preceding the effective date of the realignment, we have been working closely already with main campus colleagues for the benefit of students,” Weiss said. “We have implemented the new 3+3 admissions program that will allow qualified LSU students to earn both an undergraduate degree and a law degree in six, rather than seven years; a new Honors Admissions program that will assure quick admission to the Law Center to LSU undergraduates who combine outstanding academic records with high ACT scores, without their having to take the Law School Admission Test; and we are in the process of working with LSU to revitalize its Pre-Law Advisory program.”
Weiss added, “We’re off to a fast start. We at the Law Center look forward to an ever closer relationship with our LSU colleagues and to many future joint successes for the benefit of our wonderful students.”
As part of the resolution, the Board of Supervisors also approved that the president submit recommendations, as needed, to the Board of Supervisors, to complete the realignment and to submit a report by Jan. 15, 2016, on the status of the realignment.