Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Laying Down the Law

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Laying Down the Law

Article excerpt

Laying Down The Law: New dean outlines goals, expectations for FAMU's new College of Law

Percy R. Luney Jr., is the new dean of Florida A&M University's new College of Law, which is scheduled to open in Orlando by fall 2003. The former president of the National Judicial College, a judicial education and training institution in Reno, Nev., received his J.D. from Harvard in 1974 and his bachelor's from Hamilton College in 1970. He began his career at North Carolina Central University School of Law as the assistant dean in 1980 and became dean of the school in 1994. He has been a visiting professor at several law schools including Duke University, the University of Oregon, Washington University and Kobe University in Kyoto, Japan. He also spent a brief term as an associate at Birch, Horton, Bittner, Monroe, Pestinger and Anderson from 1979-80.

Luney heads the second law school to bear the FAMU name since the university's founding in 1887. The earlier law school operated for nearly two decades on the university's main campus in Tallahassee before it closed in 1968. The closing came two years after nearby Florida State University opened its law school. The new FAMU law school's full enrollment capacity will be 600, and it will employ 32 faculty members.

Black Issues correspondent Pearl Stewart recently spoke with Luney to discuss his plans for the nation's fifth law school to be affiliated with a historically Black institution. Others include Howard University School of Law, North Carolina Central University School of Law, Southern University Law Center and the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University. The following are excerpts from that conversation.

BI: How has your background prepared you for this position?

LUNEY: Having been a law school faculty member, assistant dean and dean, I have had experience in all aspects of law school administration. As president of the National Judicial College, I supervised the construction of a new academic facility and directed a successful fund-raising campaign for a new program. I have been actively involved in the law school accreditation process for the last 20 years. These are experiences and skills that are needed as the new dean of the FAMU College of Law.

BI: How do you see the FAMU law school setting itself apart from other law schools and from other HBCU law schools? What institutions do you consider the competition?

LUNEY: It is sometimes difficult for a law school to change its curriculum as the legal profession changes because of limited resources and tenured faculty with (either) little experience or no interest in the changes in the profession. FAMU will be able to immediately establish a faculty with an emphasis on globalization, technology and alternative dispute resolution. These faculty will still teach the subjects necessary to pass the bar examination, but they will also be able to introduce the students to the new growth areas of the legal profession.

Until the FAMU law school achieves accreditation, the law school is at a competitive disadvantage with all accredited law schools. We have to convince applicants that the law school will achieve provisional accreditation by the graduation of its first class. Fortunately, all state-funded law schools have achieved accreditation in a timely manner.

It is too early to identify which law schools FAMU will compete with at this time. As the law school establishes its identity in the years ahead, it will be possible to determine which law schools we are competing with for students. …

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