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Posted on January 12, 2009

Law school approved, classes begin

By Kristin Kisielius
Daily Collegian Staff Writer

The Dickinson School of Law at Penn State University Park has been granted immediate full approval by the American Bar Association (ABA), and law school classes began Friday in the new Lewis Katz Building located near the corner of Bigler Road and Park Avenue.

"We are extremely pleased and proud that the ABA has awarded Penn State's Dickinson School of Law with immediate full approval of an innovative and exciting new arrangement that showcases cutting edge technology and promises major advances for the future of legal education," Penn State President Graham Spanier said in a release on Penn State Live.

The new facility is "highly functional" and "well-designed," Philip McConnaughay, dean of the law school, said.

The law school features a glass library and a law clinic for pro-bono services, according to McConnaughay and The Daily Collegian archives. Construction for the Lewis Katz Building began in 2007.

There are also plans to include a high-tech courtroom in the building.

"It's wonderful," Kenny Donnelly (graduate-law) said. "I can't wait until the courtroom is done."

The Dickinson School of Law partnered with Penn State in 1997.

The school has a relationship with the Penn State School of International Affairs, with which it shares the Lewis Katz Building, McConnaughay said.

"Law has become overwhelmingly international in the past several years," McConnaughay said.

"Since the merger, we have become one of the most diverse law schools in the United States. We're very proud of that."

The diversity of the law school is one of the ways Penn State is supplying students with a quality education, Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers wrote in an e-mail.

"Diversity and academic excellence go hand in hand," McConnaughay said. "You don't have one without the other."

The law school has become more developed over the years, Powers wrote.

"In addition to being recognized for its diversity, it should also be noted that the average academic credentials of the law school's student body have improved significantly," Powers wrote.

McConnaughay said students know the law school is going to be "one of the world's leading law schools" when they see it is affiliated with Penn State.