Thursday, February 07, 2013

The Sentinel weighed in with this editorial

Sentinel View: Law school should honor its agreement

September 22, 2012 9:00 am  • 
Penn State Dickinson School of Law’s board of directors ought to find an alternative to its proposal to end first-year classes in Carlisle. Its scheme to force students to start their law-school education at State College instead of Carlisle would be bad for the local economy and bad for law students who want to get a full education here. It’s ironic that an institution that teaches students about contract law would so eagerly seek to breach a contract of its own.
Last week, law school’s board of directors said financial pressure will force the college to end first-year classes in Carlisle. Instead, students would be required to begin at State College and then opt to complete their second and third years here. Just seven years ago, that same board signed a deal with the Cumberland County Redevelopment Authority where they promised, in exchange for a $25 million grant to redesign Trickett Hall, to maintain a full three-year law-degree program in Carlisle until at least 2025. The college’s board said the market for legal services has dried up, hence its proposal to cut and run.
While our understanding of contract law is limited, it defies logic that the law school could just arbitrarily decide to ignore its agreement to maintain three-year classes here simply because the economy fell out. It’s not like the $25 million grant didn’t come through, or that the work at Trickett Hall didn’t get completed. Local officials held up their end of the bargain; shouldn’t the law school? This obviously is a ploy to shut down the law school. How many students who start at State College will arbitrarily decide to transfer to Carlisle for their second and/or third years?
Times are tough for all sectors, and law schools are no exception. But it’s important for the law school to set a model for its students and honor its agreement, no matter how onerous it may be seven years into it. Carlisle needs a full three-year law-degree program available to students. Offering only second- and third-year education is cutting the community and its potential law students short."

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