Nick Allard begins voyage as dean of Brooklyn Law School
The walls in the office of Nick Allard are newly painted in a deep teal green, evidence that the new Brooklyn Law School dean has a knack for flair with a deference to the traditional.
A longtime Washington, D.C. attorney and lobbyist, Allard, who was grew up in Northport, Long Island, and in Suffern, N.Y., has expressed his excitement to be coming home. He says that Washington lawyers ask the question, “What should the law be?” As the dean of a major metropolitan law school, he will ask, “What should law school education be?”
Aside from serving as an incubator for legal minds, law schools are tools of innovation. Brooklyn Law School’s position as a leader in public interest programs, extensive legal clinics, and a pioneer in the admission of women and minorities, has made Brooklyn a vehicle for innovation, and Allard seeks to seize upon that innovative character.
In an atmosphere of class action suits filed by recent law graduates against law schools for the alleged skewing of post-graduate employment rates (a similar class action suit was filed against BLS on Feb. 2), it is clear that jobs are a top priority for law school students. Allard hopes to adjust the approach to job placement and career choices among third year law students (3Ls).
Careers at major and mid-sized law firms are a prime choice but Allard wants to “encourage aspiring lawyers to look into alternative legal careers for which a Juris Doctorate is useful.” One example is working in the “the seat of government,” Washington, D.C. This is an area where Allard’s expertise comes into play.
By bringing Washington, D.C. lawyers to BLS to talk to students and allowing BLS students to intern at various agencies and firms in D.C., students will have a chance to explore firsthand the expansive boundaries of a law degree.
Allard has also challenged the BLS career department to treat third-year job placement as a campaign, something Allard knows a thing or two about as he worked on Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign. The career department has stepped up to the challenge. For the 2012-13 school year, a new program, the Alumni Committed to the Employment of Students, will be implemented.
Allard is aware that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and thriving in Brooklyn. Indeed, for the first six months of 2011, over 1,000 limited liability companies were formed in Brooklyn! Expanding on the Brooklyn’s entrepreneurial trend, Allard hopes to create business boot camps where law students will assist Brooklyn’s start-up business owners, by forming corporate structures and preparing organizational documents. They will also serve as a learning tool for law school students who wish to start a business of their own, a law practice or otherwise. Allard says that you cannot “teach entrepreneurship,” but believes that “[law schools] can provide the tools.”
Brooklyn is known for its strong sense of community, a characteristic that does not go unnoticed by Allard. Brooklyn is “about communities, plural,” notes Allard. Brooklyn Law School “will continue to live up to the character of the borough that is gracious enough to house it.”
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On Sunday, Aug. 12, incoming BLS students will embrace their surrounding communities by gathering and marching from thecampus to the ceremonial courthouse at the U.S. Courthouse, EDNY, for the annual convocation ceremony. Convocation is not a new tradition for BLS but, the en masse march through the streets Brooklyn is. This will “allow students a visual of their campus [and see] that their campus is not just a law building at 250 Joralemon St. but that the world of the legal profession is all around [them], that their campus is Brooklyn.”