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The Oklahoma Legal Group Blog

The Law Deans: Andrew R. Klein, Indiana University McKinney School of Law

Adam Banner - Monday, June 27, 2016

More than 100 years ago, the Indiana Law School was founded as part of a new university, the University of Indianapolis. The law school later merged with another law school before becoming affiliated with Indiana University in 1944. In the late 1960's, the law school became autonomous and was known as the Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis until 2011, when it was renamed the Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law after receiving a multi-million dollar gift from a community and civic leader.

Since 2013, Andrew R. Klein has served as Dean of IU McKinney Law, where he is also Paul E. Beam Professor of Law. Dean Klein has been a faculty member at McKinney Law since 2000, and has also served the university as Chief of Staff to the Office of the Chancellor and Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. 

He is recognized for his scholarship in tort law and enviornmental law, and he is well-regarded as a professor of law, having earned ten student teaching awards during his career as a legal educator. 

Oklahoma Legal Group would like to thank Dean Klein for taking the time to participate in our law deans interview series and to answer our questions about law school and the legal profession.

What is the biggest challenge facing new law students?

Many challenges are similar to those that law students have faced for years – adapting to a rigorous course of study, learning to "think like a lawyer," etc. Today's students, however, must do this in a rapidly-changing environment that includes the use of technology in ways that previous generations could not have imagined. Even setting aside the application of technology to the practice of law, new law students need to manage the distractions that technology create as they transition to becoming legal professionals.

What is the single biggest challenge that you face as Dean?

The single biggest challenge I face is time management. A dean has so many constituents – students, faculty, staff, alumni, members of the bar, University officials, and more. This keeps a dean constantly on the go, making it hard to carve out time for reflection and long-range planning (let alone keeping up on email!).

Which areas of the law do you think will experience the biggest growth over the next few years?

Health law and Intellectual property law. Law school graduates with scientific and technical background are in great demand.

Is teaching law now different compared to when you were a law student?

In some ways, yes. Certainly, law schools focus more on experiential learning than when I was a student. And legal educators are doing a better job of assessing students' work beyond traditional end-of-semester exams. In many ways, however, law school teaching still focuses on skills that have long been the core of our profession – analyzing judicial opinions, interpreting statutes and regulations, and writing clearly.

How do you think technology will impact criminal defense?

Criminal defense is not my specialty. But there is little doubt that scientific evidence is impacting the criminal justice system. As one example, Professor Fran Watson and students in my school's Wrongful Conviction Clinic recently established the innocence of an individual who had been wrongly imprisoned for more than 20 years. The individual was exonerated because of a new DNA technique that identified the genotypes of the assailants who actually committed the crime. http://mckinneylaw.iu.edu/news/releases/2016/04/iu-mckinney-wrongful-conviction-clinic-client-darryl-pinkins-wins-release-from-prison.html

What do you think are the biggest legal challenges facing the Supreme Court?

One challenge facing the Supreme Court is to maintain public confidence in the legal system and the rule of law in a highly-charged political environment.

Are there any aspects of practicing law you miss due to being in education?

I left private practice in 1992, so it's been a long time. I enjoyed the camaraderie that I developed with my law firm colleagues, and I miss that aspect of practice. But I never have regretted my decision to join the legal academy.

If you could invite any three legal or governmental identities (living or dead, real or fictitious) to a meal, whom would you invite?

John Marshall, Abraham Lincoln, and Barbara Jordan. Each would bring an incredible perspective to the table!

What is your favorite legal movie?

I'm old school, or perhaps just getting old. So I'll say "To Kill a Mockingbird." And, no, I have not read "Go Set a Watchman."






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