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UMass eyes merger to create state law school
By Kevin Rothstein
Friday, October 8, 2004
Boston Herald

     UMass trustees are in talks to create the state's only public law school by merging the Dartmouth campus with the Southern New England School of Law.

     The controversial move, backed by the university system's new chairman, James Karam, would come at a significant price, because the Dartmouth law school would need a thorough upgrade.

     ``We're looking at the financial issues right now and what it comes down to is does an expanded relationship ultimately serve all of our students?'' said John Hoey, spokesman for the UMass-Dartmouth campus.

     Hoey said the focus of any ``expanded relationship'' would be to address the growing need for attorneys willing to practice in low-paying public service roles.

      Hoey declined to comment about internal UMass critics, saying he didn't know if any solid proposal would be before the trustees prior to their Nov. 10 meeting. The Southern New England School of Law is not accredited by the American Bar Association, which poses problems for its students seeking licenses in some other states. Though improving the once-struggling law school would be costly, it would also help UMass create a powerful alumni base.

     News of the talks have shot through the law school community, where established schools are bristling at the thought.

     ``How much should the state expend resources on training young lawyers given the number of law schools there already are in the state?'' said Northeastern University School of Law Dean Emily Spieler.

     In 2001, UMass offered to buy Southern New England for $12.5 million, but it didn't receive legislative support.