Talk of another law school sparks discussion

By Chris Dickerson | Mar 10, 2006

Stephen J. Kopp

Ed Welch

CHARLESTON – Talk of a possible law school at Marshall University has set off a litany of supporters and opponents to the idea.

Marshall President Stephen J. Kopp says the school asked for public input about Marshall's future and received more than 900 ideas from students, alumni, faculty and others. He said the top recommendation was, by far, a law school.

"These recommendations advanced the idea that a law school should be located in Huntington, Charleston or on both campuses," Kopp said. "

Because of those recommendations, Kopp said school officials have begun preliminary work on investigating the feasibility of starting a law school.

"Until we have performed the necessary due diligence analysis, including the demand and market for the program, the program financial, facility and business plan, its projected viability/sustainability and our ability to acquire the necessary start-up funds, it is premature to suggest that Marshall will have a Law School," he said. "However, strong interest clearly exists in having us pursue this program and we will do the necessary due diligence to determine whether it is feasible and whether it will be part of Marshall's future educational offerings."

Some top state politicians – including Senate Majority Leader Truman Chafin – have spoken out against the idea of a second state law school. Others – including Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper like the idea.

"It is something that at least should be considered," Carper said.

Meanwhile, University of Charleston President Ed Welch says his school still would consider the idea of a law school if the Marshall plan falls through.

UC, a private school, currently is in the midst of finishing work on a pharmacy school. Once that is up and running, Welch said school officials will access things.

"First, we'll ask ourselves if we want to add another school," Welch said. "Then, I it does makes sense, it is a law school."

He said he thinks there is room for two law schools in the state.

"Four years ago when we first looked at it, the ata seemed to suggest that," he said. "And the data probably hasn't changed."

Welch said people regularly ask him about the possibility of a UC law school.

"Most state capitals have them, and this is where most of the lawyers in the state are," he said. "For some people, especially with families, it's not convenient to move up to Morgantown for three years for law school."

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