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PA Approves New Drexel Law School

By DEBORAH YAO

PHILADELPHIA (AP), May 25, 2005 The Philadelphia region is about to get its sixth law school.

The state Department of Education has given provisional approval to plans by Drexel University to start a law school, the first one to open in the area in 30 years, university officials said Monday.

Following the state's action, the Philadelphia Planning Commission approved university plans to build a $13 million, 44,000-square-foot facility for the law school, on Drexel's campus in West Philadelphia.

"We felt that, looking at the top universities, we can't be a comprehensive university offering broad opportunities for our students without a law school," said Constantine Papadakis, Drexel's president.

Strong demand from potential law students also was a contributing factor, he said.

He said the area's five law schools at the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Villanova University, Rutgers University and Widener University get about 14,000 applications a year including duplicate submissions. But the five schools together only accept about 4,000, Papadakis said.

The Drexel University College of Law, which expects to hold its first class in fall 2006, will focus on intellectual property, health care and entrepreneurial business.

Like other Drexel programs, the law school will take a cooperative approach, where students will alternate between academic work and six-month work assignments. Drexel will have only the second cooperative law school in the country, after Northeastern University in Boston, officials said.

The school will offer a doctorate of jurisprudence degree as its principal degree in 2006 and a one-year master of legal studies degree will be offered in the fall of 2007. A master of laws program will be offered in the following year.

Accreditation from the American Bar Association is expected by 2009. As for the state, its provisional approval will stay in place until a site review of the college several years later.

Drexel hopes to have 120 students in the 2006 school year, gradually rising to 200, Papadakis said. Tuition will be about $28,000 a year. Search for a dean should start within a month.