The new dean for the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University, Eric Lane, said that he reads personal statements of applicants himself and wants them to call him directly when he encourages them to do so, according to The New York Law Journal.
“In this particular time, it’s so much harder to be the dean because of the declining job market and declining applicant pool,” Lane said. “You’re asking people not just to sail the ship in the same old way and do the same job—raise the flag, put the oars in. Now you’re saying, ‘Well, the sea is stormy and we’re going to have to ask different things from people.’”
Lane was serving as the interim dean since March when he took the job permanently in December. He has been teaching at the law school for 36 years while also serving as the counsel for the state Senate’s Democratic minority and as executive director of New York City’s charter revision commission.
The law school received 3,892 applications in 2012, which was a decrease from the 4,605 in 2011 and the 5,435 in 2010. From the class of 2011, 40.7 percent of the graduates were working in jobs that required passage of the bar just nine months following graduation. Lane said that the job market “has declined. That’s real. You can’t hide that from people.”
Janis Meyer, the chair for Hofstra’s board of trustees and a member of the law school dean search committee, said, “The law school environment has changed, and Eric is on top of that. He understands the fact that there needs to be a curriculum that includes both the academic and practical sides.”
Lane wants the law school to produce lawyers who are prepared for practice upon graduation. This means that the school will need to focus more on practical skills. Those skills include how to lobby, how to approach administrative agencies, and how to interview clients.
Jennifer Gundlach was appointed to a brand new post by Lane. The post is senior associate dean for experiential education. She was working as the senior associate dean for academic affairs, but it going to leave that post for the new one. She will primarily work to expand externships and find ways for students to meet the 50-hour pro bono requirement in the state.
“He’ll ask them, ‘What are you seeing? What can we be doing to better prepare our students?’” Gundlach said. “He has incredibly deep relations with our alumni base. He has been bringing alumni along to every meeting where he thinks they might be interested.”