Office of the Dean:
News & announcements from Dean Perritt for the week of
March 19, 2001

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State of the Law School Address
March 7, 2001

Earlier today someone sent me a clip from an Internet discussion group about law schools. I don't know the full context but I gather from the content that this is a place where people who are considering law schools can go for advice from other law students or other applicants. Someone had posed a question about where they ought to go to law school in Chicago and the response was very encouraging.

It didn't say that Chicago-Kent was the best law school in Chicago; maybe before too much longer people will say that and be credible. What it did say is that the University of Chicago and Northwestern are sort of the icons and then you got to think about Chicago-Kent, Loyola, DePaul, and John Marshall. The consistent message was that everyone in that group is either uninteresting or is slipping and that Chicago-Kent is the most interesting of that bunch because it's on the move, because it's been getting better, because it's exciting, because it's entrepreneurial. That has been our image for at least ten years.

I think it was almost exactly ten years ago when an national magazine referred to Chicago-Kent as the law school on the move. We are on the move. I think it's an important part of our self image as well as our image to our various communities that this is an exciting place, that we are getting better, and that we are creative and imaginative. I'd like to talk to you about my perception of why this has been a good year, to talk a bit about strategy and about some threats as well as some accomplishments. Then I'd like to talk about how we are doing on themes, niches if you will, that help differentiate us from other law schools. Then, also in a strategic sense, talk about our relationship with the main university. Then after that strategic focus, I'd like to make a few fairly specific remarks on our faculty, on our alumni base, and on our students. I hope to do that in about 25 minutes.

There is no question where to start in terms of strategy for the law school. The faculty, and I, and the administration of the university including the Board of Trustees of the university made a fundamental decision about a year and a half ago to focus our strategic energies on a very particular objective. That is to improve our student quality and increase our selectivity. Now let me tell you why that is an appropriate strategic focus. One way to think of law schools and surely one way to think of Chicago-Kent is as a kind of triad-or three-legged stool if you want. One leg to the stool is faculty quality. Another leg in the stool is physical infrastructure. And a third is student quality.

What happened to Chicago-Kent from about 1970 to about 1990 was that it experienced a revolution in terms of faculty quality. It went from being a law school that was a fairly typical and traditional evening law school that catered to part time students and had a faculty that was very linked with the practice community. Those are not bad things but those are not ways that law schools earn distinction in the minds of people whose opinions count. By 1990, this was a completely different place in terms of faculty quality. By then, we had a faculty much like the faculty you know today. People who appear on 60 Minutes, people who write the cutting edge scholarship in multiple fields of law, people whose names are the first that occurs to someone when they want an expert in a particular area. When you look at our U.S. News ranking, you see that we are exceptionally well thought of in the legal academy. Our reputation rank, for example, among other law professors is high and it's higher than it is among practitioners and judges. So that was a major accomplishment in terms of that first strategic leg of the triad.

When this building was built and occupied that was a major step forward, thereby addressing the second leg of the triad.

But at almost exactly the same time that the faculty had been built up and was being sustained at a high quality level and that the building was occupied something funny happened in the marketplace. There began to be a dramatic decline in the pool of law school applicants nationally. I'm not just talking about Chicago-Kent; I'm not just talking about Chicago; I'm talking about the entire United States. From 1992 to 1997 the number of people who applied to law school in America declined by 40%. That's a big drop. Now half of that was purely demographic. There were just fewer people born 23 years before 1997 than there were born 23 years before 1992.

The other half, people think, has to do with the booming economy. When people have very attractive job opportunities right out of undergraduate school, a smaller proportion elect to go to law school, business school, and medical school, and so. But in any event, there was this dramatic decline and that meant that everyone was forced to become less selective unless they wanted to get smaller. Well no one wanted to get smaller. No one did get smaller; everyone stayed the same size. You had relatively speaking too much supply of seats in law schools in the face of declining demand and that affected us just like it affected everybody else. That meant that we were not making progress on the student quality part of that stool. That was the thing that we needed to address strategically and dramatically. Now why is student quality important to you now? It's important to you now because it affects the environment in the classroom. We want some diversity. It's reality that there will be diversity around almost any measure. If the measure that we are looking at is people who have quick tongues in the classroom, there is going to be some dispersion about that. Some people will talk a lot and be very good. Some people will talk very little, others will talk a lot and not be very good in the classroom. But we don't want too wide a dispersion between the top of the class and the bottom of the class because that will interfere with the kind of experience that you ought to expect and the kind of education that you will get.

It also matters a lot to all of us over time because the reputation of a law school in the long run is driven by the quality of its graduates. All of us have Chicago-Kent on our resumes, either because we work here or because you are going to school here. That will be the case all the rest of our lives. So to the extent that Chicago-Kent's reputation increases over time, even if it takes five years, ten years, or twenty years, that benefits all of us.

If on the other hand there is some particular part of our strategic environment that is problematic that we don't address and that causes our reputation to suffer because our graduate quality declines, that would hurt all of us over time.

So it was extremely important for us to address this. During this ten year decline in the pool of law school applicants almost no one got smaller and that's because it's very hard for institutions to make strategic decisions to get smaller. Faculties don't have the courage to do that or faculties have the courage to do it and universities don't have the courage to let them do that.

This place was different.

Once we brought that strategic issues into focus, the faculty here voted almost unanimously to adopt a downsizing plan that had us taking almost a hundred fewer students a year--210 in the full time division instead of close to 300 at the peak--and to pay for the loss in revenue by shrinking the size of the institution on the expenditure side. We weren't just foregoing revenue and keeping everything else the same size, we were shrinking the scale of the institution, which we thought was also desirable. It makes us--if not exactly intimate compared to before--at least it makes it somewhat more intimate. We thought it would permit us, and it has permitted us, to reduce class size somewhat, and the university supported that. There are a lot of universities that say, "No." Law schools have to stay big and if possible get bigger so that they can throw off cash to support the main university. That's not what our president and our trustees did. They applauded this effort and frankly have held us up as an example for the rest of the university on how to engage in strategic decisionmaking and have the faculty working hard to make the strategy come true.

We are in the first year of this downsizing plan. Last fall was the first time that we took a smaller class, we will take the same smaller class this coming fall and the fall after that. So by the time we are at the end of the three year period, we will have--roughly speaking--about 300 fewer students in the law school. We were rewarded very handsomely for the first year of this effort. Our average LSAT score went up two whole points, from 153 to 155. Our selectivity improved from an acceptance rate of almost 70% to a far more respectable acceptance rate of about 40%. Our classes are somewhat smaller. My information anecdotally both from what I've seen directly and from what is the first order hearsay the experience is changing in the classroom. We are getting positive reinforcement that that this was exactly the right thing for us to do. There just isn't any doubt in my mind that it's at the core of our strategy and that it was the right thing and the courageous thing for the law school to do. It will benefit you and everyone associated with the institution handsomely.

We also experienced an improvement in our performance on the Illinois Bar exam. It can't be attributed to this because the smaller class hasn't graduated yet. Perhaps it's a coincidence, but one might suppose that as we attend to quality measures of all kinds, maybe there is some kind of very indirect effect. In any event, we were substantially above the state wide average for the July exam. That's the first time since 1996 that we have been above the state average. Over the long term our history is to be close to the state wide average, sometimes a little bit above it and sometimes a little bit below it, but it's very encouraging that we were significantly above it. We were also above 80% which is the first time we were above 80% since about 1996.

Now there is a strategic threat and that flows from the proposal that the University of Illinois in Chicago acquire the John Marshall Law School. The internal discussions at UIC say that the plan is to acquire John Marshall and to spend from $12-15 million dollars a year, in our dollars, taxpayer dollars, to subsidize the John Marshall Law School so that it can substantially improve its faculty and so that the tuition would be about a third of what it is now. The notion is that the Illinois taxpayers would subsidize legal education at John Marshall.

Now the problem with that is there isn't any known need for a further public subsidy of legal education in Chicago or in Illinois. The competitive structure of legal education in Chicagoland has been stable for several decades. There are enormous resources that are spent by the existing law schools in Chicagoland on providing opportunities for people who are financially disadvantaged and might be disadvantaged for other reasons. We have already talked about this decline in the national pool of applicants to law schools and so it's just not clear why anyone would want to do this as a matter of public policy or as a matter of public finance.

In any event, there is a process under Illinois law for evaluating the need for university mergers. There is an institution called the Illinois Board of Higher Education and existing statute law requires that any proposals like this UIC/John Marshall merger proposal go through that process. That process no doubt would illuminate whether there is a need for this merger and this taxpayer subsidy. The early proponents of this apparently had intended to just leap frog that whole IBHE process and just go directly to the legislature and get some sort of statutory authorization and initial appropriation for this. We are encouraging our public officials to honor the statutory process and to make sure that before we make this kind of commitment of taxpayer money that we understand what the need is.

I would encourage you to communicate that idea to people as you think appropriate. There is no doubt that this kind of massive subsidy for one law school in Chicagoland would destabilize the competitive structure, and who knows what equilibrium would be after all is said is done. It seems to me it would just kill DePaul very quickly. I don't mean that it would cease to exist, but in terms of its program and its admission policy it seems to me it would be a body blow to DePaul.

It seems to me that the effect on us would be somewhat delayed because of downsizing. One thing that downsizing does for us is it puts in a better position to respond to threats like this. But it could only have a serious detrimental effect on our program as well.

I think over the long term it would have an adverse affect on Northwestern and furthermore it might have a significant adverse affect on UIC and the University of Illinois system because the notion that the Illinois General Assembly is year after year after year going to give $12-15 million dollars in new money to UIC for this program is far from assured-to put it mildly. The likelihood is that there would be an initial shot of public money to get this thing started and then after the first year or two the folks at UIC and elsewhere in the University of Illinois system would have to take it out of their hide. It's entirely conceivable that almost every other program in the University of Illinois system would be hurt by this because they would have to generate internal subsidy to continue this thing after it is begun.

That's something for us to be concerned about but I think to the extent that we can control our position, downsizing is exactly the right defense for that.

Now to shift focus a little bit, one of things that's in my stump speech for all audiences is that we are different from most other law schools in that we appreciate the need always to work hard to balance our responsibilities as a professional school with our responsibilities as a graduate program in a university.

We certainly attend to our responsibility as a graduate program and a university. That's what the emphasis on scholarship is all about.

We also understand that most of you are going to end up practicing law or being business executives, as opposed to being law professors. We want to make sure that we structure our program so that we expose you to the richness of the legal profession and that we give you an opportunity to be excited by all the different kinds of things that you can do as a lawyer.

That's why two years ago we changed our orientation program so it wasn't just a week of people sitting in this room and other classrooms listening to lectures and having discussions. It began this year, as it did the year before, with a mock trial which then put our entering students in the position of sitting as jurors on mock juries and actually deciding the case. Then the week concluded by a visit to the Circuit Court of Cook County where our entering students could see actual jury trials and talk to some judges.

The reason for that is that law is exciting. For most people, the peak of the excitement is when you first enter the door of the law school and you are about ready to be a law student. We wanted to reinforce that by exposing people to some of the exciting things that go on in the real world. We try to take advantage of every opportunity to do that.

It's not just litigation oriented. One of the aspirations that we have had for some years is to try to expand our excellent clinic program so that people who are interested in transactional law, as opposed to litigation, could have a clinical experience. We managed to put that together this year. It's on a trial basis. We are not sure that we are going to make it work under our fee generating model, but I think it's off to a good start. There certainly is a lot of student interest-as those of you know who have talked to Lance Williams, our visiting clinical professor who has launched this high tech start up business clinical program.

We have two stakes in the ground, if you will, that help people understand why we are something special. (This is in addition to the reputation for being on the move and innovative and entrepreneurial.) Technology is in our name. It's Illinois Institute of Technology. Chicago-Kent for almost 20 years has been correctly perceived as being in the forefront of helping lawyers and policymakers understand the impact of information technology on law and legal institutions. One of the stakes in the ground has to do with technology, and particularly information technology. I think we are doing very well to make sure that that reputation for excellence and specialness continues. Lori Andrews just does a superb job in her capacity as Director of the Institute for Science Law and Technology. She is a phenomenal combination of really thoughtful creative rigorous scholarship and the knack that somebody needs to be able to communicate that to the general public and get along with the media and the press. She does a wonderful job of representing us as an outstanding person in the important field of biotechnology and ethics and law.

As many of you read, when the United States Department of Justice wanted somebody to evaluate the FBI's Carnivore electronic eavesdropping system that had caused a lot of heat and flame on Capitol Hill, they came to us. One of the reasons they came to us is that we had a strong reputation as a law school for understanding technology and related policy issues and also because we put together a very unusual proposal that had the law school teaming with the Illinois Institute of Technology Research Institute--"IITRI." We were the only interprofessional proposal and the Assistant Attorney General that selected us said that was a big reason why we were picked over 15 other people.

The point is not whether you agree with what we had to say about Carnivore or what you think about Carnivore, but the point is that we were picked to help people address an extremely controversial matter that was receiving attention at the highest level of the executive branch and the legislative branch.

When the legal services community in Illinois, and when George Soros' Open Society Institute, and when the National Center for State Courts decided (with some persuasion from our side) that they should invest almost a million dollars in trying to understand how ordinary citizens can access the legal system more effectively with appropriate use of information technology, they came to us and came to Ron Staudt and IV Ashton. As a consequence we have a major program, to try to address this problem and generate some new ideas. Once again interprofessional; it's a joint effort between the law school and the Institute for Design at IIT.

When Chief Judge Harry Edwards of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit got to thinking that they were about ready to hear the Microsoft appeal and he was worried that some of his colleagues on the bench didn't know much about information technology, guess whom he called to see if someone could be identified to do a tutorial for the judges. He called me. We put him in touch with--and also prepared--our Chief Technology Officer, Michael Hites, to brief the judges on the information technology that they would need to know. Now in the end, the government and Microsoft couldn't wrap themselves around this novel idea of educating judges on technology so it didn't happen. But the point is that the Chief Judge wanted it to happen and he thought of us just immediately as the right place to help understand that technology.

You all know about the central role that we played in the American Bar Association's effort to understand jurisdictional issues associated with the Internet.

The other stake in the ground that helps distinguish us is globalization. We are hardly the only law school in the United States that is interested in globalization; everybody is, after having ignored it for 75 years in the last century. It seemed to me when I came here that the challenge for Chicago-Kent was to help people in our market area take us seriously as players with respect to globalization issues. There was a tendency for people, when they thought of globalization, to think of University of Chicago and Northwestern and then to stop thinking. Or, if they were thinking nationally, to think of NYU and to stop thinking. We had substantial assets in the international arena, they just weren't very widely known.

One of the things that I set about to do was to try to stitch together the assets that we had, fill in the gaps, do some new things that would get people's attention like what Charles Rudnick and many students have done in Bosnia and Kosovo, and increase our visibility and reputation.

I think we are making real progress on that. When the MacArthur Foundation decided to invest $600,000, and persuaded the Chicago Community Trust to invest another $300,000, and persuaded Mayor Daley to appropriate $75,000 of city money to launch the Global Chicago initiative, guess where they came to host it. They came here. And they came here because they thought we--of all the law schools--had demonstrated a capacity to deal with the new kinds of problems creatively, to work interprofessionally, and to work across institutional boundaries. That was a major step forward in terms of our credibility in Chicagoland as a leader institutionally on some of the globalization issues.

Now a word about our relationship with the university. Law schools tend to have tense relationships with their parent universities. That's true all over the country. It's relatively rare for law schools--whether the law students or the faculty--to be heavily engaged in things that the rest of the university is engaged in. It seemed to me that that was a mistake for us. There was opportunities for us that we could take advantage of by getting more engaged with the overall university activity. I think we have done that in a substantial way. There are at least a half dozen IPRO's--the interprofessional courses--that have been led from the law school and have had substantial law student participation. The faculty and the administrators and I are very much involved with the other officers of the university in shaping the overall effort. Just before I came here for this event I was with Lew Collens and Stuart Cooper and some of the other vice presidents of the university with the Ogilvie and Mather advertising firm, where we spent about three hours brainstorming about the overall message for the university from a marketing standpoint. One of the things we talked about quite a lot was whether the professional units like the law school, especially the law school, are better off to be "Chicago-Kent" with almost no one knowing that we are part of IIT or whether we would be better off if the IIT linkage was emphasized more.

We don't know what the answer is. We just talked about that as a legitimate issue. There is room for argument that one might be better than the other. It is clear to me that, at least in some audiences, the fact that technology is part of our name can be helpful for Chicago-Kent. We need to do a better job of understanding how to get that technology linkage message across to the appropriate audiences without scaring that part of our family that considers itself to be out of the arts and letters tradition and is not interested in becoming tarred with the technology brush.

In terms of raw dollars as many of you know the university just completed--ahead of schedule--a $250,000,000 capital campaign that was triggered by a gift by the Pritzker and Galvin families of $120,000,000 on a matching basis. The law school benefited substantially from that. Donations to the law school while the campaign was in effect were matched on a dollar for dollar basis. We got several large gifts that were twice as much for us as they would otherwise have been. We are now in the process at the university level and the trustee level to try to understand what the university does next. In fact there is a trustee retreat this weekend. Not just in a fundraising sense but in a strategic sense. So we are very much engaged in that and I think that is good both for the university and for the law school. After all this law school became a part of IIT in 1969 because it thought there would be some synergy with the Illinois Institute of Technology. We should make sure that that happens.

Now let me mention a couple of faculty developments, a couple of alumni developments, and one particular student development. I talked already about Lori Andrews. She continues to do a wonderful job of getting us visibility. She is not alone. For those of you that look at the listing of faculty that appear in the press and the media, it's phenomenal. There are two or three or more faculty appearances in general audience media every week.

Some of that is do to the very good efforts of Susan O'Brien and Gwen Osborne in our Public Affairs Department. But you can't get exposure for faculty unless they are doing interesting things and unless they give a good account of themselves when they are on the tube or in the paper.

We have two new intellectual property faculty that have joined Professor Mickie Voges to make for a very, very strong core faculty for our intellectual property program. That's quite important to us because technology is part of our name and a lot of the people who think well of us because technology is part of our name are interested in intellectual property law. Anyone that's interested in a relationship between law and technology needs to understand at least something about intellectual property. Graeme Dinwoodie and Tim Holbrook being part of our faculty have substantially increased our capacity in that area.

Among our alums and friends, Terry Lavin, who has been a very active alum, is now the Second Vice President of the Illinois State Bar Association. That means he will automatically become president not next year but the year after that. Tom Fitzgerald, who is not an alum, but who has been a very active participant in our various programs, orientation, professionalism day, was elected to the Illinois Supreme Court. I know, because he has told me, that he will continue to be a close friend of Chicago-Kent, as his judicial duties permit.

On the student front, I will mention two things to you obviously excluding a much longer list of equally interesting items. Our trial practice teams have really been outdoing themselves. I'm not sure that I completely understand the competitive structure of the National Trial Team Competition but one way to interpret what happened two weeks ago when both of our teams won the semifinals is that they will be competing against each other in Texas. That's not exactly the way it works but the fact that you might interpret it that way sense of how unusual it is for two teams from one law school to get to this level. As you may have noticed on the sign out in the atrium, our team won the regional ATLA Competition. So year after year that program continues to provide extraordinary opportunities for our students that are interested in being trial lawyers and it does that because of the great investment of time and energy and caring that Justice Warren Wolfson and Dave Erickson and the other people in that program bring to bear.

Two other things I want to mention on the student front, and then some questions. The downsizing plan was the result of an enormous effort by faculty and administrators and others to try to figure out how sensibly to do those expenditure reductions. You don't just want to cut everything across the board. For example if you are trying to pull in better quality students you may want to increase your expenditure on admissions and recruitment. So that was a great challenge, to put that downsizing plan together. The leadership of the Student Bar Association was very much a part of that. What I did toward the end of the process when the issues began to crystallize, was I asked the President of the SBA to get his key leadership team together and to come in. I shared with them the downsizing plan even-if my faculty colleagues would stop up their ears-even before the entire faculty had seen certain pieces of it, or least simultaneously with its release to the faculty and asked the students to help evaluate some of the choices that were yet to be made as to how this ought to work. They did a wonderful job. Out of a group of about a dozen students we had the notion that we should designate each person as a kind of special master to look at a particular program. You couldn't be a special master for a program that you loved; you could only be a special master for a program you didn't know much about or that you were somewhat skeptical about. That just worked great.

This year as well, I am working with the Student Bar Association leadership and so your classmates have substantial input and are very much a part of helping make decisions. I have responsibility to make certain decisions, and the faculty has responsibility to make certain kinds of decisions; we're not transferring that to the students, but the input is useful and we pay a lot of attention to it.

The other thing that I want to mention, I kind of alluded to but I want to emphasize it more. We understand that you are very different, in terms of what you are interested in, in terms of what you are good at, and in terms of what you are going to do with your lives. We also understand that at the core of our academic program is a system that gives a handful of people A's and gives a whole bunch of people grades in the middle and below the middle. When you look at class rank, … It's in the nature of a ranking that only a quarter of the folks are in the top quarter, right? Well, if you are not careful you send the message to people who are not in the top quarter that there is nothing in this for them. Either that there's nothing in it for them in terms of the rest of the law school experience and they just have to endure it, or worse than that, there is just nothing for them in the law.

Well that's not true.

There are all kinds of things that can be in it for the people that are not in the top quarter academically. That's why we commit so much to things like the trial practice program, and the moot court program, and to all the student activities, and why in the four years since I have been here I can't think of a single time when a student has come to me and said, "I got a great idea, I want to do X," that I didn't sit down and try to figure out a way for the student at least to have a chance to try to do X.

We want to encourage all of you to stretch and to live up to your full potential and to understand that nobody is good at everything. Even if you aren't real good at the more academically oriented analytical stuff you may be just terrific as a trial lawyer or an appellate lawyer or in some other kind of role. These things that are referred to as extracurricular activities are in my mind-and I think the mind of the faculty generally-a very important part of our overall program and our overall educational philosophy.

Well, that was substantially in excess of 25 minutes and I apologize for that. I get sort of excited about some of these things and say a few more things than perhaps I intended to. What's on your minds?

Student Question

First of all I think, I agree with nearly everything that you said. The public school issue I hope that you look at it objectively and don't take a side. The public school system is much needed and I don't say that I have looked at it in great detail myself. It is something that I think is necessary in a city this size. So that people like me, people like, a lot of people like me, who aren't academically strong enough to get the assistance would have an alternative and all the other things that I think the public school is good for. None of us chose this school because we wanted to go the worst school in Chicago obviously. It's an excellent school, it's progressing fine and I have a lot of good opportunities here and a lot of people have a lot of good opportunities here but, and I think it's a big but, but what happened is I came in the fall of 1999 and you have done a good job of diffusing some of what I wanted to say there at the end because of clinical programs and all that, that's what motivated me to come to this school. Not the LSAT score, not the average LSAT score, I could care less about that. Not the average GPA, big deal. Not because certain employers considered GPA important, I am not concerned about that nor is a number of other students. But I had to take a torts test twice in that semester, a number of people here did too and we all thought the minimum GPA that was required was 2.1. I'm still in school so I'm fine but we would think that a school that was teaching us about the law would practice something that's extremely important that would be that before you implement something that people are going to notice that it's published at a 2.3. I think the best thing the school [inaudible]. If you want to go to a 2.3, I don't have a problem with that and most people don't either. I mean fine I might have a problem with it personally but obviously if that's what you are going to do you are going to do it. There are people that got kicked out of this school though and I think unjustly after giving the school a lot of money and I would like to see, and a number of other students would like to see, those people brought back to school at least. I mean that situation remedy for that fall class and then at any point after that where the 2.3 was published clearly fine, OK. You have the 2.3 minimum GPA and everybody knows about it then it's fair. I was hoping you could address that specifically if you are able to do so. I know you don't make all the decisions [inaudible].

Dean Perritt's Response

Well let me make a couple of responses to that. First of all, the academic disqualification standard is a core academic decision. I mean I haven't heard anyone that disagrees with that. But that's really at the heart of what an academic policy of an institution is about. Secondly, the relationship between the disqualification standard and grade inflation, grading curves, the qualifications of the entering class, and a few other things have a lot of fairly intricate interrelationships. What happened was that the faculty as a part of the overall strategic focus on student quality and selectivity and what we were sending out into the profession looked hard and quite analytically at the relationship among the academic standard to stay in school and the grade inflation and the grade curve and all that stuff. Out of that process came a recommendation to the faculty that the GPA ought to be increased from 2.1 to 2.3. Now it's more complicated than that because there is a formula for probation and how you get off probation and all that but I agree with you that the core and simple version of that was an increase from 2.1 to 2.3.

Now there is in all of our materials, all of our application materials, a reservation of the power to change the rules. There has to be because you couldn't possibly imagine a university program that froze everything at the point that someone first saw some kind of communication about the school. You got to be able to change your course offerings and the course requirements and all that kind of thing. So everyone, as a formal matter, everyone was on notice that these things could be changed. Now before there could be any sort of reliant conduct on whatever the standard was and I mean I guess if you tell me that people spend a lot of time scrutinizing the flunk out standard and calculate how close they can get to it without flunking out, I mean if you tell me that people do that I have no basis to say that they don't. But if people were doing that, before they had an opportunity to rely on that by taking their first final exam they had explicit notice that the standard as it applied to them would be 2.3. It did disqualify some people. It is a tragedy when people want to be lawyers and don't meet the academic standards to stay in law school. The human aspect of that is substantial and I'm not indifferent to that but the fact remains is that academic programs of quality have to have some standards. If people don't meet the standards it's a long part of our tradition that they have to leave the school. And so for us to take the position that because someone is terribly disappointed that they weren't able to meet the standard and therefore we just ought to keep them anyway, I think would be a completely unsound policy on our part. Not everyone agrees with me. Some people disagree with it enough to file lawsuits, but that's the rationale of what we are doing.

[Unable to hear question]

Dean Perritt's Response

Well it may be that we disagree about this but I think I have explained the rationale and my position on that. I mean people were told that the official mechanism for notice is the Record. It was in the Record before anyone took a single final exam that could have been affected by that standard. And then there also, as you know we have like most schools a probation system. So if you don't do well you have probation to remedy it and you don't get disqualified until after there is a probation period that wasn't successfully completed. I mean there is nothing unusual about that. That's the way it works most places so the idea that somehow this was a complete surprise to people I don't agree with that. Yes sir.

Student Question

Dean, that notice appeared in November in the Record. If I recall correctly in Cyberspace the Record is there for a week and then it goes away. But the student handbook, for months after that until May of 2000, if one were to go back and say what's the academic standard, what's my notice, the student handbook said 2.1 and if my memory is correct that didn't change until May of 2000. What notice are we talking about? You're talking, I think about the notice that appeared in the Record, and that Record appears on that internal Web page for a week and then poof it's gone.

Dean Perritt's Response

No, it actually stays there forever.

Student Question

You have the scroll for it. I think a student if there are going to say what's the standard now and they…

Dean Perritt's Response

Well, I'm sorry, I disagree with you. It's kind of like, sort of like the Federal Register if you know about administrative law. The Record is like the Federal Register. Because there might still be something in the Code of Federal Regulations that hasn't been completely updated yet if an organ, if a journal is designated as the way of giving official notice and you put something in there that's how you get official notice and that's the Record here. Now I don't mean to say that mechanisms for communicating things can't be improved and that we should, I mean we can emphasize this more, and in fact we did emphasize it more in the orientation this year, so I'm not trying to say that we did everything perfectly but what I mean to say that this was not an irrational or irregular thing to do and that we implemented it in a regular way. That's my position.

Student Question

I want to talk about a completely different subject.

Dean Perritt's Response


Student Question

I appreciate that too. I really do enjoy what's going on with the interprofessional projects but one of the things I have noticed is that we have a connection to the business school which is right upstairs and there is very little conglomeration between the kind of projects that we are doing in independent research in e-commerce and other areas that commingles with what's going on business school and I wonder if you could just talk about what with the restructuring that's going on there as well, what kind of programs do you see Kent integrating bringing those two things together so that we can make the best use of the facilities and the technologies that are within the building to get out into the business world where most people will be working will have [inaudible] to more business people.

Dean Perritt's Response

Well I agree with you that we have some …that we are not doing much and there are lots of opportunities there. One of the problems is that the business school is on the quarter system and the law school is on the semester system. That doesn't make it impossible to collaborate; it just adds some burden.

I also agree with you that lawyers who end up being deal lawyers need to know a lot more about the deal than most law school curricula give them. So I think, in terms of educational content, that the people in our student body who are interested in transactional law would be better off if they took some courses that most people associate with standard MBA courses. They for sure ought to know accounting and they probably ought to know a bit of finance from the business perspective in addition to the securities regulation perspective.

The problem is to find the right institutional mechanisms to promote that without forcing people to do things that they don't want to do. Now one obvious mechanism is the joint J.D./MBA program. We get about 25 students per year in that program but the reality is that it isn't a program. It's just a cross listing of courses. And so we have had a number of discussions over the last year and a half about how to make that a real program. I asked the Downtown Campus Faculty Council, we had a discussion about that and the Council appointed a committee of business school and law school professors that are looking at that. One of the things that I asked Chris Matheny to do as he moved up to be an Assistant Dean and, to take on a campus wide responsibility for the registrar function, was to become the advisor for that joint program. He has a comparative advantage because he is a Stuart School graduate; he has an MBA. He was working for the law school and now he is working for the downtown campus. Professor Voges and I and others have talked about whether a focus on the strategic management of intellectual property might be an interesting theme for that program.

So I agree with you that we should do more. The vehicle that I have identified that we might be able to use most quickly is the joint J.D./MBA program. Other questions or comments?

[Unable to hear question]

Dean Perritt's Response

Oh absolutely. The way that people thought about that downsizing plan was to say what is, what should be immunized altogether from any reduction. The candidates for that were Admissions and the Financial Aid program. Financial aid because we wanted to make sure that our progress in the diversity area didn't have a set back. We also immunized certain aspects of the library where we had been under spending. And once having done that then we said, "what is volume variable?" "Because the things that are volume variable in terms of their service requirements probably can be cut proportionally. If you have 25% fewer students at the end of three years, well then presumptively maybe you ought to be spending 25% less on that activity at the end of three years." We also asked ourselves, "what is absolutely central to our mission and what's peripheral?" You might for example conclude that some CLE programs, for example, are not part of the core mission, but are at the periphery. So when the faculty committee recommended to the faculty the downsizing plan, it had significantly different numbers for the amount of reduction from these different programs based on that. We were comfortable, that we could do this without impairing service levels.

[Unable to hear question]

Dean Perritt's Response

There wasn't any. Over time there might be some relationship between downsizing and the curricular offerings but there wasn't this year. I'm not saying there wasn't a problem but it couldn't have had any relationship to downsizing because there was none.

Other questions or comments? OK.

Well this is not the only forum in which you can express your views to me. I would encourage not to be bashful-I know that not many of you are. Or at least I know a lot of you are not bashful. That's fine and so when you got something on your mind and you want to make a suggestion or you have a problem, let us know about it and we will try to fix it or tell why not.

Thanks a lot.

Dean Henry H. Perritt, Jr.

Archive Links:  Previous Announcements from Dean Perritt

Week of March 5, 2001

  • State of the Law School Address

Week of February 26, 2001

  • Academic Standards Litigation

Week of February 5, 2001

  • Dean Perritt's Geneva Trip

Week of January  29, 2001

  • Meeting of the National Research Council
  • World Intellectual Property Forum
Week of January 22, 2001
  • Jodie Bernstein, Director of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection will speak on Monday, January 22
Week of January 15, 2001
  • Dean Perritt's Books
Week of December 11, 2000
  • Lori Andrews' Promotion
  • Carnivore Report
  • Dean Perritt's Article
Week of October 30, 2000
  • Centennial Visitor Stanley Katz
  • Ukrainian Visitor
  • Wisconsin Bar Results
  • Fall Lecture Event 
Week of October 16, 2000
  • Dean Perritt's Presentation at the 2000 ABA Administrative Law Conference
  • Richard Wright's Law Review Article
  • Pristina Law Faculty Visit Chicago-Kent
Week of October 2, 2000
  • Speaking Engagement for Dean Perritt
  • Fred Bosselman's New Book
  • Carnivore System
Week of September 18, 2000
  • Speaking Engagement for Claire Hill
  • Speaking Engagement for Dean Perritt
  • Meeting That Dean Perritt Attended
Week of September 4, 2000
  • Welcome Letter to Students
Week of May 22, 2000

Week of May 8, 2000

  • Same information as May 1, 2000. 
Week of May 1, 2000
  • 14th Annual Scholarship Luncheon
  • Presentation Given By Dean Perritt and Margaret Stewart
Week of April 24, 2000
  • Justice Web Collaboratory Advisory Board Meeting
  • The Future of Public Sector Labor Management Relations Conference
  • Chicago Database Summit
  • General Augusto Pinochet
Week of April 17, 2000
  • State Death Penalty Litigation Project
Week of April 10, 2000
  • Independent International Commission Meeting
  • Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Case
  • Global Law and Policy Initiative Lecture
Week of April 3, 2000
  • Distinguished Professor Lecture featuring Joan Steinman
  • Morris Lecture featuring Professor Patrick Glenn
  • E-Lawyering:  Lawyers Serving Society Through Technology Conference
Week of March 27, 2000
  • Same as week of March 20, 2000
Week of March 20, 2000
  • MacArthur Foundation
  • Professor Bart Brown
Week of March 13, 2000
  • International Travel
  • Third Annual State of the Law School Address
Week of March 6, 2000
  • Hague Conference on Private International Law
  • Distinguished Labor Leader Lecture
  • Justice Anne Burke 
Week of February 28, 2000
  • Illinois Appellate Court Visit
  • Institute for Law and the Workplace Event
  • International War Crimes Documentation IPRO Team
Week of February 21, 2000
  • American Red Cross
  • Chicago-Kent's Downsizing Initiative
Week of February 14, 2000
  • DuPage Country Bar Association
  • Dean Perritt's Remarks for January Open House
Week of February 7, 2000
  • Balarus Delegation Reception
  • Hague on Private International Law
Week of January 31, 2000
  • Professor Bart Brown's Membership to the Council on Foreign Relations
Week of January 24, 2000
  • Chicago-Kent Alumnus Argues Before the Supreme Court
Week of January 17, 2000
  • Ukraine/Kosovo Trip
  • Internet Conference in Lublin
  • AALS Annual Conference
  • Zia Hassan's Departure
  • Mickie Voges' Position Change
Week of November 22, 1999
  • Chicago-Kent receives grant
Week of November 15, 1999
  • Program on Gun Control
  • Talk on Human Rights in Cuba
  • Talk on Establishing the Rule of Law in Kosovo
Week of November 8, 1999
  • Distinguished Professor Lecture
  • Center for Law and Computers
  • Russian Professor Visits Chicago-Kent
Week of November 1, 1999
  • 22nd Annual Derivatives and Commodities Law Institute Program
  • Kosovo/Albania Trip
Week of October 25, 1999
  • "Well Founded Fear" Event
  • Student Bar Association Meeting
Week of October 18, 1999
  • Workshop on Promoting the Use of Electronic Payments
Week of October 11, 1999
  • Meeting with JD/MBA Students
  • Polish Visitors
Week of October 4, 1999
  • Luncheon for LL.M. Students
  • Security Provisions
Week of September 27, 1999
  • Orientation Speech to First Year Students
Week of September 20, 1999 - (No new information available)

Week of September 13, 1999

  • Dean Perritt and Professor Stewart Participate in Workshop
Week of September 6, 1999 - (No new information available)

Week of August 30, 1999

  • Welcome Letter to Returning Students
  • Law House
Week of August 16, 1999
  • Letter to First Year Students
Week of May 3, 1999
  • Bart Brown's Presentation
  • The Alumni Luncheon
  • Tasha Kincade -- new arrival and maternity leave
Week of April 26, 1999
  • Chicago-Kent Receives Gift
  • Faculty Scholarship
Week of April 19, 1999
  • American Red Cross
  • Award Announcements
Week of April 12, 1999 - (No new information available)

Week of March 22, 1999

  • Operation Kosovo team in Albania
Week of March 15, 1999
  • In Memoriam:  Dr. Rowine Brown Truitt '61
  • In Memoriam:  William F. Zacharias, Professor of Law
Week of March 8, 1999
  • Dean Perritt's Travels To Central Europe
Week of March 1, 1999 (No new information available)

Week of February 22, 1999

  • International Travel Itinerary for Dean Perritt
Week of February 8 and 15, 1999
  • Second Annual State of the Law School Address
Week of February 1, 1999
  • Strategies for Excellence:  Law as a Profession 1999
  • Workshop on the International Criminal Court and U.S. National Security
  • Kosovo and Albania Trips
Week of January 18, 1999
  • Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting
Week of December 7, 1998
  • Esther Rothstein
  • Soros Open Society Foundation Grant
  • Alumnus Gift
Week of November 30, 1998
  • Dean Perritt Appointed to Advisory Commission on Internet Privacy
Week of November 23, 1998
  • Illinois State Bar Association Award
  • Newly Appointed Distinguished Professors
Week of November 16, 1998
  • Workshop on Genetic Susceptibility to Environmental Contamination
Week of November 9, 1998
  • Project Bosnia IPRO Installs Ministry of Justice Database Server
  • Assistant Dean for Career Services and Alumnae/i Relations
Week of November 2, 1998 (No new information available)

Week of October 26, 1998

  • Illinois Commerce Commission Relationship
  • Judicial Ratings Available
Week of October 19, 1998
  • 21st Annual Commodities and Derivatives Law Conference 
  • NCAIR Grant 
Week of October 12, 1998
  • Update on Jacob Corre' 
  • New Graduation Date 
Week of October 5, 1998
  • Meeting of the National Academy of Sciences 
  • Committee on Global Networks and Local Values 
  • Presentation to the Great Lakes Supreme Court Justices 
  • Jacob Corre's Condition 
  • Dean's Office Seeks Research Assistant 
Week of September 28, 1998
  • Meeting with Albanian Ambassador to the United States 
  • Meeting with Counselor for Legal Affairs of the Embassy of the People's Republic of China 
Week of September 21, 1998
  • Illinois Bar Association Award for Project Bosnia 
  • Jacob Corre' 
  • Operation Kosovo Web Site 
Week of September 14, 1998
  • Meeting with Vice President for Information Technology at Northwestern University 
  • Meeting with Incoming President of the Chicago Bar Association 
Week of September 7, 1998
  • Chicago Tribune Coverage 
  • New Member of Chicago-Kent's Board of Overseers 
  • ISLAT/AFB Tour and Dinner 
Week of August 31, 1998
  • David Gerber's Reception 
  • First Meeting of Project Bosnia IPRO 
  • Discussions with Bosnia Refugee Group 
Week of August 24, 1998
  • Two Faculty Members Visit China 
  • ABA Jurisdiction Project 
  • New Appointments in Student Services 
Week of August 17, 1998
  • Creating and building momentum: keeping Chicago-Kent a law school ahead of the times 

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