This week's Daily Record column is entitled "Rochester Needs a Law School."
Rochester Needs a Law School
Within the last year, officials at both SUNY Binghamton and St. John Fisher College announced their educational institutions were considering the possibility of establishing new law schools.
Lawyers across the state decried the addition of two new law schools in New York, many asserting there already are too many law schools, and too many lawyers. One can only assume that the primary reason for such ardent disapproval is based on the fear of increased competition in a state already populated by a large number of lawyers.
While those concerns certainly have some credence, a new law school in Rochester would benefit the region and the local legal community far more than it would hurt it.
St. John Fisher plans to locate a new law school downtown, a move which will only serve to revive a once well-traveled area that is no longer the focal point of activity for Monroe County residents. Downtown Rochester has great potential and the addition of a new student population will only invigorate the ailing city.
A law school will be good for local businesses as well. A new community of students will provide landlords with tenants and local retailers with newfound customers.
A Rochester-based law school also will benefit local lawyers, in a number of ways. First and foremost, it will provide new jobs for lawyers seeking an alternative to traditional legal careers.
Both public and private legal employers could utilize the services of law school students, providing free or low-cost interns, while simultaneously allowing the students to gain a sense of the abilities and personalities of potential future employees.
A new law school also will enhance and strengthen the local legal community by providing opportunities for lawyers to participate in the educational process, enabling them to shape the minds of future lawyers. From judging moot court competitions to participating on career services panels, local lawyers will become more engaged and enthusiastic about the practice of law.
Rochester needs a law school. The absence of one is a noticeable and curious phenomenon, one which I have always questioned. Our area is home to a large number of colleges and universities and includes nationally renowned medical, engineering and business schools.
When I graduated from the University of Rochester in 1992, I would have preferred to stay right here in Rochester for law school and was somewhat annoyed and surprised to learn I didn’t have that option.
Fortunately for the declining Upstate population, I returned to Rochester and chose to raise a family here. Many young people don’t make that choice. A Rochesterbased law school could help to address increasing concern about the mass exodus of the younger generation from Upstate. A local law school could encourage graduates to remain in Upstate, rather than migrating Westward.
Rochester needs a law school. New York has the third largest population of all U.S. states, with California topping the list. Both states have similar numbers of practicing lawyers, yet California has more than twice as many accredited law schools as New York.
New York certainly has room for a few more law schools, and there is no reason why Downstate should be home to 11 of the state’s 15 law schools.
Rochester is an obvious choice for a new law school. Its addition will only add prestige and recognition to our city. The local economy will benefit, as will the local legal community.
The addition of a law school in Rochester, quite frankly, is a no- brainer.