Education officials OK Husson law school

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BANGOR (AP) – The state Board of Education has approved Husson College’s proposal to offer law degrees, putting Maine a step closer toward having a second law school.

College President William Beardsley said the Bangor school will now petition the state Supreme Judicial Court to allow Husson graduates to take the state bar examination. If the court gives timely approval, the school hopes to begin offering classes by the fall of 2008.

“We’re very, very pleased,” Beardsley said after Wednesday’s vote by the board of education. “This is a major step in the process, with the next important step being going before the supreme court this fall.”

The initial class would have 30 students, Beardsley said. The school would operate year-round and consist mostly of night classes.

Husson has been expanding its graduate offerings, which now include a physical therapy program. Last month, the state board approved the school’s proposal to grant degrees in pharmacy.

Maine’s only law program is in Portland, at the University of Maine School of Law. Having a second law school in Bangor gives Mainers who live more than two hours from Portland access to a degree program many have found out of reach, he said.

In addition, Husson’s law school would provide more attorneys for people living in much of rural Maine, he said.

The law school proposal was unanimously endorsed by a committee of lawyers and educators that reviewed the plan. Former Maine Chief Justice Daniel Wathen, a committee member, said the panel’s members “were very aggressive going over the applicant,” asking many questions and probing details of the proposal.

Wathen said that while Husson’s proposal meets the requirements of state law, the committee added some “caveats” pertaining to such matters as its library and faculty.

Robert Kahn, a former corporate lawyer and Husson professor, is to serve as the school’s dean. Kahn said Husson’s program is to be modeled after that of the Massachusetts School of Law, in which graduates are permitted to take their bar exams in Maine. He expects a reciprocal agreement allowing the Husson graduates to take their exams in Massachusetts.

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