LSU law school boosts scholarships

Breaking Legal News

As the number of law school applicants decreases in Louisiana and nationwide, LSU is upping the ante on its scholarships for law students to keep the “best and brightest” in Louisiana.

The LSU Board of Supervisors approved increasing the LSU Paul M. Hebert Law Center’s scholarship dollars more than 40 percent to about $1 million for the coming school year during board meetings this week at LSU-Shreveport.

The increase is part of the law center’s new “Louisiana Distinguished Public Service Scholars” program that will ultimately be funded by LSU tuition and fee increases, although the tuition proposals are still pending, LSU Law Center Chancellor Jack Weiss said.

With about 570 law students at LSU, Weiss said this new program is necessary “to maintain our current student demographics, much less enhance them, which is my goal.”

The new scholarship money is intended for the best in-state applicants who show an interest in legal public service, which is meant to coincide with LSU’s burgeoning clinical legal education program, according to the scholarship proposal.

Not only is more clinical education being demanded for continued American Bar Association law school accreditation, but it provides students with more real-life legal experience with clients apart from standard internships.

Although more money will be awarded to students, Weiss said LSU may not need to use the full $1.03 million scholarship allotment approved by the LSU board.

As for tuition, Weiss said, “We’re being limited by the budget we currently have.

“To put it bluntly, we cannot do what we need to do &hellip without a tuition increase,” Weiss said, noting that LSU’s tuition is below its peers.

Quoting LSU System President John Lombardi, Weiss added, “Money matters.”

Mike Gargano, LSU System vice president of student and academic support, called the plan a “significant” and necessary increase for scholarship funding.

Nationally, the number of law school applicants decreased from nearly 97,000 in 2003 to just 80,000 last year, Gargano said.

At LSU, law school applications dropped from 1,845 in 2003 to 1,299 last year, he said. Then there is the issue of Louisiana’s decreasing population.

With fewer students to choose from, Gargano said “the competition for students becomes that much more fierce.”

The scholarship adjustment is needed “to better confront these national dynamics,” he said.

Weiss also announced the hiring of Indiana University clinical law professor Robert Lancaster as the new director of LSU’s clinical legal education program.

Lancaster is a 1993 Tulane Law School graduate.

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