Stetson University College of Law is Florida’s oldest law school. Founded in 1900, the College of Law is well-established as one of America’s leading law schools. Our reputation for advocacy, legal writing, elder law, environmental law, higher education law and policy, veterans law, and several other areas through our various Centers and Institutes is nationally recognized. Stetson’s faculty and their impactful scholarship and contribution to legal education are widely known. The success of our alumni in positions throughout law and policy to include private practice, government, and non-profit work is extensive. It is thanks to the work and dedication of our engaged and productive faculty and staff, our supportive and thriving alumni base, and our diverse and high-caliber student body that we can celebrate our past successes.
The College of Law’s strategic plan reflects our commitment to build an inclusive and collaborative community that will support dialogue and partnerships among all of our constituencies. This strategic plan is also designed to strengthen and support our students, faculty, staff, and alumni along their professional journeys. We combine these goals with academically rigorous training to ensure our students and alumni can clearly articulate a position and rationally consider differing points of view with the goal that they will lead our local, national, and global conversations towards civility and compassion by example. Finally, our strategic plan seeks to strengthen the financial stability of the College of Law, in order to ensure that our graduates are able to continue to advocate for all clients as only a “Stetson Lawyer” can.
As we look into our future, we recognize that we must not only honor our past successes but build upon them as the College of Law moves forward in a rapidly changing social and economic environment. This strategic plan is designed to recognize the potential challenges facing our nation now and in the coming years, and to strengthen our community, our curriculum, and our law school. Some of the major challenges we seek to address in this plan include economic instability and the recognition that a national pandemic has forever changed the way our nation works, how relationships are built both virtually and in person, and how legal education must continue to evolve. This plan also acknowledges that at this moment, public discourse and our society generally is often divisive and exclusionary. Stetson University College of Law aims to lead legal education in fostering inclusive excellence, comprehensive advocacy and professionalism, and economic security for students, faculty, and staff.
Stetson University College of Law's strategic planning process offers an opportunity to bring our community together for rich, creative, and innovative discussions. Our Strategic Plan is built upon Stetson University values of personal growth to increase self-knowledge, intellectual development to achieve academic excellence and foster exploration, and global citizenship to be informed and engaged in our communities and beyond.
The Administration of the College of Law has the exceptionally important job of bringing together all its constituencies to excel in its missions effectively, efficiently, and successfully. Considering this responsibility, the Administration is committed to ensuring the financial stability of the College of Law by improving its financial position and decreasing dependence on J.D. tuition revenue. The College also recognizes that the responsibility to pursue financial stability extends to seeking ways to lower student debt.
- Increase annual revenue streams.
- Ensure transparency in budgeting.
- Develop and implement fundraising plans to increase the scholarship budget for admitted students.
- Seek ways to lower the amount of money that students attending Stetson Law must borrow, by, for example, providing financial literacy training for students, on-campus jobs, work-study funding, and other avenues to help decrease borrowing.
The College of Law is proud of its long-held emphasis on teaching and providing a demanding and rigorous education in a supportive and caring environment. Recognizing that the majority of our students desire to practice law after graduation, we commit to following best practices in academic success and support, ensuring the highest student bar passage rate through early intervention and timely assistance through credit and non-credit coursework, and supporting and assisting students in achieving their career goals.
- Ensure that the College of Law graduates pass the bar exam at a rate that exceeds the accreditation minimum of the American Bar Association through continuing our efforts in bar preparation and through the development of additional programming, initiatives, and courses to support bar passage rates as well as providing additional support for bar passage of at-risk students to include earlier identification of students at-risk, mentorships with recent graduates, and revised curriculum.
- Provide need-based support for students enrolled in bar courses.
- Ensure that the Office of Career and Professional Development has the financial and human resources to engage in student development that focuses upon student skills, competencies, and individual interests and needs relative to career searches, widens student awareness of career opportunities beyond the Tampa Bay area, widens student awareness of J.D.-advantage job opportunities, and enhances the student’s own career planning efforts.
- Continue to identify trends in the practice of law; and assess preparation of students to participate fully in emerging niches.
- Continue our efforts to increase the number of graduates who seek and acquire judicial clerkships.
The College of Law is committed to maintaining and further improving its national and international rankings in a number of areas. To promote this end, the College of Law will continue to explore and implement initiatives to advance our local, national, and international reputation.
- Keep attention on Stetson Law by bringing the national community to our campus for high quality conferences, events, and competitions.
- Continue to use and build upon its strengths in established academic areas to enhance its national reputation of its Centers and Institutes.
- Partnership and collaboration with prominent faculty and programs at other institutions.
- Create a pipeline to the American Law Institute.
- Continue to evaluate whether we are ready to apply for the Order of the Coif.
- Discuss ways to leverage the Tampa Law Center to increase our connection to and reputation amongst alumni, the local legal community, other academics, and the state and national bars.
- Treat our alumni as lifelong clients and look for opportunities to inform and support them and their practices, businesses, careers, and future education and development.
The College of Law recognizes that our students are the reason we exist. We commit to teaching, inspiring, and mentoring compassionate, courageous, and professional advocates. To that end, we are committed to recruiting, enrolling, and retaining a high caliber and diverse student body.
- Continue to implement and evaluate steps already taken to enroll admitted applicants who possess high academic qualifications and other desirable traits and periodically evaluate the success of its various programs and efforts.
- Use faculty, staff, students, and alumni in student recruitment efforts to increase personal contact with the applicant pool.
- Develop initiatives to recruit students to the College’s concentration programs.
- Continue to expand the geography of our applicant pool.
- Commit to studying the existing part-time program anew, considering or reconsidering the potential market, the number of students needed for financial viability, the number of students needed for a rich educational experience, the costs incurred through duplicating curricular and co-curricular programming, the impact of the part-time program on recruitment generally, and the use of the Tampa Law Center for the part-time program.
Our Faculty and Staff
The College of Law recognizes that it would be unable to carry out its missions without its talented and committed faculty and staff members. In order to attract, retain, and develop the best faculty and staff members, the College of Law is committed to creating a community that recognizes and appreciates their hard work and dedication. To that end, we have a commitment to ensuring that our faculty and staff members have the necessary support to accomplish the various responsibilities necessary to create a quality education for our students.
- Reduce work obligations, particularly during evening and weekend hours.
- Reduce committee work and other meetings to allow more time for completion of work during regular work hours.
- Create strategies to support employees’ well-being and mental health.
- Review pay structure for all positions, with emphasis on positions with frequent turnover or that are historically difficult to fill.
- Consider continuing flexible working arrangements to enhance employee satisfaction.
- Be more respectful of faculty and department heads’ time by using faculty meetings for faculty governance matters.
- Ensure that the additional administrative and governance responsibilities for faculty are reasonable, taking into consideration teaching and scholarship requirements.
- Develop transparent, clearly articulated, and fair metrics for identifying and correcting inequities in teaching load (in terms or credit hours and expected enrollment), service, and compensation.
- Reduce the scholarship and teaching requirements of faculty with administrative responsibilities. Provide additional staff for these faculty members, reduce course loads, and use other methods of allowing the member to fulfill their teaching and scholarship requirements.
- Determine an aspirational but attainable student-faculty ratio taking into account: revenue needs, classroom and campus capacity, the impact on law school rankings, job market realities, ability of faculty to create intimate/personal in-class experiences, and faculty responsibilities for mentoring, advising, independent study, coaching of teams, and overseeing law journal papers.
Reaching our goals will involve contributions from departments across the College of Law, such as Academic Success and Bar Preparation Services, Admissions, Business Office, Clinical Education, Communications, Development and Alumni Relations, the Dolly and Homer Hand Law Library, Event Planning, Faculty Support, Facilities, Human Resources, Information Technology, Media Services, Office of Career and Professional Development, Office of Professional Education, Public Safety, Registrar’s Office, and Student Affairs. Each department, working together with our faculty, staff, and administration will be the key to achieving our future successes.