A Dean’s Reflection: IU McKinney’s Education Model

Andrew Klein
Dean and Paul E. Beam Professor of Law
Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law
Lawrence W. Inlow Hall, Room 227H
530 W. New York Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202-3225
Faculty Profile Webpage
Twitter: @anrklein

Thanks to the editors of the Indiana Law Review for inviting my comments. I applaud your efforts to expand the journal’s scope and reach.

This post marks a personal anniversary of sorts. I have been dean of our school for a year, and it would be impossible to describe the experience in a short essay. But as a renowned philosopher once said, “We do not learn from experience . . . we learn from reflecting on experience.” [1]. So indulge me some brief reflections. 

My first reflection is that we are fortunate to be part of a school that is intimately connected with a vibrant city like Indianapolis. Legal education is increasingly focused on experiential learning and engagement. It is hard to imagine a better place to make that shift than the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law (“IU McKinney”). It also is humbling to see our students take advantage of the opportunities that our community provides.

For example, the IU McKinney graduating class of 2014 collectively donated more than 22,000 hours of pro bono service during their time as students. That’s a remarkable accomplishment, especially given that many volunteered while juggling not only school, but work and family responsibilities as well. I was proud that one of our evening students received the Indianapolis Bar Association’s Pro Bono Award at the organization’s annual recognition luncheon last fall. [2]. I was equally gratified that another of our students was named IBA Law Student of the Year last spring in honor of his work in the community. [3].

Another example stems from an event that took place last March, when the Inlow Hall atrium was packed with hundreds of people for the school’s inaugural job fair. The fair was the brainchild of our Student Bar Association leadership, who worked with our law school staff and alumni association to organize the event. I was proud that, instead of simply wringing hands over a tough job market, our students chose to engage and do something about it.

My next reflection is to be thankful for the remarkable support from our school’s alumni and friends. During the course of the year, I crisscrossed the state, meeting hundreds of people from Merrillville to Evansville and all points in-between. I met young lawyers, building professions and improving communities. I met CEOs and General Counsels, who guide major companies. I met leaders in the statehouse and in Congress, all of whom represent our school and profession incredibly well.

You should understand that our school could not provide the quality of education that students expect without these remarkable individuals. Some of their extraordinary acts of generosity have received well-deserved publicity. [4]. But don’t discount the cumulative effect of philanthropy, and the fact that every gift makes a difference.

Earlier this year, for example, our school sent a three-student team to the National Transactional LawMeet competition. That team won the Midwest regionals, earning the right to participate in the national finals. The IU McKinney team competed extremely well there, finishing in the top five in both contract drafting and negotiations exercises. [5]. An important side note: our school had no budget for that activity. But we were able to provide the opportunity to our students by deploying dollars from unrestricted giving to our annual fund campaign.

I could go on. I’ll wrap up, however, by reflecting on remarks made by Robert H. McKinney on the day we announced his incredible gift and the naming of our school. Mr. McKinney made the point that supporting this law school is as good an investment as anyone can make if they care about the future of our community. As Mr. McKinney explained, history tells us that the students at our school today will undoubtedly be society’s leaders tomorrow—the judges before whom we litigate, our representatives in government, the people representing us in important family and business matters. We all have a stake in the quality of the education that is provided at IU McKinney.

In short, I feel blessed to be part of a great institution and a remarkable community. I’m convinced that our structure—combined with continued support from our alumni and friends—will make this school a model for legal education in the years to come.

[1]. American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer John Dewey.

[2]. See Local Leaders to be Honored with IndyBar Recognition Awards, IndyBar (Oct. 15, 2013), http://www.indybar.org/news/indybar-news/2013/188.

[3]. See IndyBar: Matthew Maples Selected as IndyBar Law Student of the Year, The Indiana Lawyer (Apr. 23, 2014), http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indybar-matthew-maples-selected-as-indybar-law-student-of-the-year/PARAMS/article/33987.

[4]. See, e.g., Gifts to IU McKinney enabling school to establish endowed chair and fellowship, The Indiana Lawyer (Feb. 17, 2014), http://www.theindianalawyer.com/gifts-to-iu-mckinney-enabling-school-to-establish-endowed-chair-and-fellowship/PARAMS/article/33481.

[5]. See IU McKinney Transactional LawMeet Team Makes Strong Showing, Robert H. McKinney School of Law (Apr. 16, 2014), http://mckinneylaw.iu.edu/news/past.cfm?nid=1541.


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