Sunday, June 10, 2007

A new law school in Southwest Florida

Recently I had a brief discussion with Florida Gulf Coast University's legal studies program coordinator about the feasability of a law school in southwest Florida. Fort Myers, Port Charlotte, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs, Estero, San Carlos, Sanibel, Marco Island, Lehigh Acres, and Naples would all benefit from a law school in this area. We're one of the fastest growing areas in the country! But, the response I got was rather gloomy: "A law school at FGCU at this time is just not feasible. It would take years of money, planning and building."

SWFL law students no choice but to leave area
Let's pretend that I want to study law, the closest law school for me would be located in the Tampa/Orlando region or in the Miami/Ft Lauderdale area. The best option from my own research shows that Florida International University is the best choice not only because they had one of the highest pass rates in Florida history, but also because their tuition costs are very affordable (roughly $8k/year). The next affordable law school is Florida A&M University, a historically black/minority school. They are plagued by some issues (ie: faculty retention), but they are nonetheless, an institution that needs a break: they have struggled to gain a foothold after their struggle to survive in the 1960s. You see in 1966, during the troubled times when blacks and minorities tried to achieve equality, Florida Board of Control shut the law school down.

So I have two primary choices, one is FIU and my secondary is FAMU.

New hope
But then I accidentally bumped on a press release dated February 2007. Ave Maria School of Law, a fully ABA-accredited law school is moving from Michigan to the Naples area in 2009!

This is great news especially for students that really don't want to give up on Southwest Florida. Aside from historically good weather (Hurricane Charlie/Wilma notwithstanding), this area of Florida offers a relaxed lifestyle with no metropolitan headaches.

Finally! A law school in the area.

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