Dear Alumnae and Friends of Albany Law School,
With great pleasure I write to update you on some exciting happenings at Albany Law School.
Late last month a site team representing the American Bar Association spent three days on our campus inspecting all areas of the law school. They observed faculty in the classroom; examined our financial records; met with our students, faculty, staff, and Trustees; evaluated our course offerings and curriculum; and assessed every part of our facility, including our technology services, library collection and library services.
This intensive fact-finding mission occurs every seven years for ABA-accredited law schools. As a new dean, I found the preparation and scrutiny valuable. Only a year ago I too was scrutinizing the school as an outsider. Confident that the ABA team would see what I immediately saw, namely, a committed and talented faculty, a hardworking staff, and a streamlined operation designed to address concerns and challenges, the experience spurred healthy self-reflection for the entire school. We look forward to the ABA’s report about their visit to Albany Law School.
Among the many initiatives implemented this year, we are possibly most excited about our Bar preparation efforts. At the center of this effort is an intensive diagnostic test required of all second-year and some third-year students to identify student strengths and weaknesses as they progress through law school and begin their preparation for the Bar examination. The data also helps the students’ advisors better guide their course selection. Finally, it helps us—the administration—direct support services in a smarter and more effective way.
Many of our students have obstacles that prevent them from studying for the Bar in the summer—they may need to work full time or may have childcare issues, for example. We have surveyed the entire third-year class, and we are attempting, within reason, to remove these obstacles for our students. We have come this far together, and it is our responsibility as their Law School to work with them as best we can to cross the finish line.
In the area of Admissions, the number of LSAT takers this year is down substantially, which has resulted in a smaller applicant pool. The Admissions Office has gone into full gear, and our seat deposits to date have shown some promise. We are, however, preparing for a smaller class in the fall. We are fortunate to be positioned financially to absorb this smaller size without affecting any services to the students.
As many of you may know, the ABA now collects more detailed employment data from law schools than in the past, in an effort to provide more transparency for prospective students. I encourage you to visit our website to see our 2012 employment statistics. While the legal job market remains significantly different than it was five years ago, there is a sense that the market has settled and a new employment landscape is beginning to emerge.
Albany Law graduates landed jobs because the school’s alumni created opportunities. You interviewed the students, advocated for them within your organization, recommended them within your network, or helped guide them as mentors. Though my tenure here has not been long, I have met almost the whole student body and feel confident they will be productive and impressive legal professionals. You have created the opportunity for them to demonstrate this—and I thank you.
As always, change brings challenges and opportunities. On a campus where students come first, a smaller class, despite lower revenue, will enable us to deliver more academic, professional and career development services for each student.
We have several exciting initiatives taking shape around areas such as science and technology, financial services, health law, and the Government Law Center. We will tell you about these as our plans become more concrete.
If you talk to a current student, you will learn that everything that we are currently engaged in at Albany Law School is student-centered. This new sense reverberates throughout our law school community.
The campus has been extraordinarily vibrant this semester, with a range of exciting events. For example, in March, the entire New York State Court of Appeals and several judges of the Third Judicial Department of the New York State Supreme Court hosted programs at the law school. We held numerous student-driven symposia, a full slate of moot court competitions, an exceptional week of events around the Kate Stoneman celebrations, and much more. Locally, we had a great time this past weekend hosting the Historic Albany Foundation’s “A Moveable Feast.” Webcasts of some of the programs can be viewed here.
A lengthy article in the upcoming alumni magazine will detail our long-term vision and strategies for prospering during these challenging times. This vision is centered on the professional development of Albany Law School students.
Penelope (Penny) Andrews
President & Dean