When Leigh Saufley spoke to Mainebiz past calendar year in her very first 7 days as dean of the College of Maine College of Law, she talked about the “surreal” working experience of staying in an empty constructing. Eighteen months later on, we sat down with Maine’s previous chief justice all over again more than Zoom to find out about this year’s incoming class, new educational programs, and what the move to downtown Portland will necessarily mean for the state’s only regulation school.
Mainebiz: What can you explain to us about this year’s initially-12 months legislation pupils?
Leigh Saufley: It is an incredible and excellent group of pupils, and I would say that I in all probability imagine that about just about every course that I have satisfied. This individual class has genuinely potent credentials, so you will see us bragging about the point that they’re coming in with greater LSAT scores, but the most important attribute of this course is that they are intensely engaged — so they’re in the building, masks are necessary and our vaccination charge is somewhere all around 97%. They are all having care of just about every other, they’re producing guaranteed they’re not bringing the virus into the regulation college, and they’re incredibly affected person with us.
For the initially two months of their faculty 12 months, we couldn’t allow them try to eat inside of the building. They have been lovely and individual. We acquired a tent, they ate at spherical tables out on the garden and fought off the hornets and the aggressive squirrels, but they were being pretty about it, and we have now discovered locations where by they can sit considerably ample apart, so that they can take in within in the colder temperature (but they can’t all do it at after due to the fact the developing isn’t large adequate). And they are incredibly considerably associated with college student teams, with a great deal of what goes on in a law faculty that connects pupils to difficulties of justice in their environment.
MB: What else can you share about the make-up of the course?
LS: When I graduated from Maine Law in 1980, my class was the first class in which there were the exact amount of females as men. This class, the class of 2024, is shut to 65% gals.
MB: Why do you imagine that is?
LS: We don’t know. Girls are really intrigued in issues of justice, and the adult males in the course are of system absolutely excellent, but there is just this first-time distinction, and but they all look really a great deal concerned with every single other. 1 of the points we’re pretty happy about, we have manufactured a very severe work to increase diversity at Maine Legislation, in a state that has appear to variety significantly later on than other states.
Generally, the [law school’s] range price operates someplace in between 8% and 12% of the class this yr, we strike near to 18% variety, which is just amazing. It livens up the course, and there are some superb learners from all walks of everyday living.
MB: What about bringing a lot more range to the school as very well?
LS: We’re only now beginning to rebuild the college, so we’re doing the job critically on range for school and for staff, and as we employ that’s heading to be one of our strongest focuses.
MB: To what extent do you believe you will profit from the so-named Terrific Resignation, and much more people today thinking about heading into regulation?
LS: I assume that’s entirely probable, and unquestionably we saw in our university student purposes this calendar year, the selection of programs had been up about 35%. With regard to graduate university, folks make selections at that stage about what is most essential to them, and to numerous of these learners what’s most significant is to make guaranteed the environment is just and fair, and that they are able to have a voice in making it a very good planet.
MB: What can you share about Maine Law’s prepared go to downtown Portland?
LS: We have a 5-yr lease with an possibility for an additional 5 yrs, and the risk of acquiring the constructing eventually, so there is a true possible that we could be in the making for 10 or even lengthier. It’s at 300 Fore St. proper beside the Custom made Residence, two blocks from the federal and state courts, one block away from the blue financial system — the creating could not be in a better place for our pupils to be related. It is bought 5 flooring of amazing, light-weight, stunning area and 64,000 sq. toes.
When we get in depends so a lot on what’s likely on with the provide chain and with subcontractors, and it is regrettably a bit unpredictable. We experienced at first hoped to get in early in the subsequent semester, probably later in the following semester. It all relies upon on some of those forces outside of our manage.
MB: In conditions of the academic facet, Maine Law will share area with the University of Maine graduate and enterprise schools?
LS: The MBA method will be co-housed with us, and of course the Graduate and Skilled Heart and the CEO of Maine Centre Ventures. We’re by now benefiting from this making [at 300 Fore St.], and we are conference there. The possibility to satisfy and talk about cross-disciplinary education, increasing the operate amongst the enterprise and the law school, acquiring the Muskie [School of Public Service] plan individuals associated with us significantly a lot more usually, it is truly thrilling.
Picture / Tim Greenway
Leigh Saufley, dean of Maine Law, with Terry Sutton, still left, CEO of Maine Centre Ventures, and Norm O’Reilly, dean of the UMaine Graduate Faculty of Company.
MB: What can you tell us about some of your new educational courses?
LS: We have just established up the new business and transactional system, which is a amazing addition to the collaboration that is heading on involving the MBA and the legislation university. There is a program taking place this really fall which is all about organization startups and entrepreneurial operate, and that study course is being taught by a professor from Maine Law and a professor from the MBA, and students are really getting included in this organization/regulation collaboration, which is extremely interesting, and that will be a portion of what this certificate supports.
In addition, we have just obtained the authority through the board of trustees to develop an MLS, a Master of Lawful Scientific studies. This would be a 30-credit history degree application that would be mainly on line, and be offered for people in company, persons in administration and government positions, and it will make it possible for them to get a a great deal larger comprehending of how the legislation will work in their distinct location and understand about all of the troubles all-around privacy legislation and some of the new problems coming up there.
We have done the very first step of the MLS, and the upcoming phase is bringing on board the individuals who will generate the system, make sure it is large high quality, and then get it out there to the learners. We’re also on the lookout at an expansion of our legal clinic into Aroostook County.
MB: Did the pandemic have an effects on the clinic’s skill to just take conditions?
LS: They [the students] did not miss a move. They were being symbolizing folks through Zoom hearings or, in some cases, in courthouses entirely masked and house-compliant. They continued to characterize men and women through the pandemic, and they just did a terrific task.
MB: To what extent has the pandemic modified lawful training?
LS: We know that there are means to train at a distance that are far more participating and guarantee truly deep finding out, and most of these means also include things like some in-individual function. We also know that the to start with calendar year of legislation faculty is not notably amenable to length mastering, but we’re hoping that 2L and 3L students — who are quite normally off doing externships — can then choose lessons on the net as we go forward.
What we acquired that was most critical — other than just earning guaranteed that there is a genuinely potent relationship so the discovering happens — is that the technology matters. Likely into the new setting up, we’re working really carefully to make positive that we have bought the proper know-how for any of the courses that are going to be taught on the net.
MB: What progress has Maine Legislation produced so far on range, equity and inclusion?
LS: I’m delighted with the progress so far. We’ve experienced several boards, we are connecting with persons all through the globe, and the learners put on the first Human Library in the condition of Maine [part of a global nonprofit learning initiative that hosts conversational events designed to challenge social stigma and stereotypes]. They are so resourceful and so caring about generating all of this function.
MB: Eventually, following a yr and half as dean, what quality do you give your self?
LS: I give myself excellent credit history for really currently being suitable listed here at the desk and, somewhat than grade myself, permit me just tell you that it was a person of the finest conclusions I at any time made. I certainly like the job. No matter whether I’m undertaking it perfectly, we will see in the subsequent many yrs, it’s really a little much too early to tell no matter if what I’m doing is basically likely to perform. But I can just tell you, the college, the employees, the learners, everybody’s remarkable, and I’m just so happy I built the determination.
Photograph / Courtesy of the University of Maine Procedure
Maine Legislation will go away its present home at 246 Deering Ave. in Portland.