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Law school faculty praiseworthy

Letter to the Editor | Thursday, April 19, 2007

As recent alumnae of the law school, we feel that we must respond to the April 17 article, “Law Students Show Discontent.” We certainly share our former classmates’ concern with NDLS’ recent drop in the rankings, the adequacy of the current building, the planned new building, recent faculty departures and the administration in general. However, we cannot agree with our classmates’ assessment of faculty quality. In our three years as JD students, we had the good fortune of being taught by the most talented, dedicated and intelligent professors we could ever hope for. They may have been hard on us in our first-year classes, but over three years the overwhelming majority of our professors went above and beyond their classroom duties.

We can recall many, many times when a professor assisted us with our personal research interests, advised us on career opportunities, stayed late at night to assist us with clinical work, gave us a home phone number to call in case we needed help with anything and even hosted us for a meal at his home. We have had professors who shared our political viewpoints, disagreed with us vehemently or who never gave us the slightest hint as to their political leanings, and we can say with certainty that none of our professors ever allowed his political views to influence his treatment of students.

Our education was enhanced by the Catholic atmosphere of the law school as issues of faith, ethics and morality permeated discussions on any subject. Like our classmates, we were often annoyed by our required courses. As public interest lawyers, we were more burdened by required corporate and tax law classes than by classes on ethics and philosophy. But even those tedious subjects are taught by dedicated, enthusiastic faculty who did their best to make their subjects interesting and uncomplicated for their less-than-enthusiastic students. Criticizing a professor because one did not like his class or teaching style is unfair, and we can vouch for the quality of the professors who taught our jurisprudence and ethics classes as well as the quality of the material taught.

We also share our classmates’ concerns about the number of course offerings. There are more classes offered on corporate law than any other subject, and we often struggled to fill up our schedules with courses geared toward public interest work. We hope that the administration will make a real effort to retain the stellar current faculty, including library and clinical faculty, and hire new faculty in all areas of law. Law school was far from the best three years of our lives. We, like the current JD students, were constantly frustrated with an unresponsive and sometimes malicious administration, substandard facilities and limited course offerings. But we credit NDLS’ excellent faculty with making those three years as enjoyable as law school could possibly be and with forming us into the ethical, hardworking and open-minded lawyers we are today. We consider ourselves not only better lawyers but better people for having known and learned from them; and whatever our concerns about the leadership of the law school, we will always lend them the highest praise. They earn it every day.

Kate Leahy

Jessie Tannenbaum

Lenore Vanderzee

Law School alumnae

class of 2006

April 17