Faculty Focus | Timothy Arcaro, J.D.

Timothy Arcaro, J.D., professor and associate dean for AAMPLE® and Online Programs in law, shared that the American Bar Association just approved NSU's plan to develop a new series of online Master of Science degrees in Law and Policy.The expansion follows 12 years of success in pioneering online law education and 200% enrollment growth during the last three years.

By studying how law intersects with their professions, students are able to reach new career heights in the fields of health care, human relations, and education. Now, NSU plans to do the same for people in fields that face data security regulation, and much more.

Another area of success that allows donors to be innovative is NSU's ability to offer real world experiences through scholar programs and NSU’s law clinics, Arcaro shares:

With $1 Million, you can provide up to 250 vulnerable foster care children with legal representation. Children in Florida’s foster care system are not entitled to representation, so the need is great. Funding five to six lawyers to provide representation can ensure that a child is placed in a home that meets his or her particular needs.

With $5 Million, you can provide fellowships to enable alumni, in their first year following graduation, to represent clients while receiving advanced training from a senior lawyer. Students could also benefit from the expanded opportunity to assist with cases.

With $10 Million, you can provide comprehensive advocacy to hundreds of children. For most children, the need is not purely legal. A comprehensive representation platform could provide care across the continuum of the child's unique needs, including psychological, educational, and medical services. All the pieces are here and available at NSU, but we need resources to pull it all together.

REASONS BEHIND A 200% ENROLLMENT GROWTH OVER THREE YEARS

Professionals seek out NSU’s online law programs because learning about the law creates opportunities for further professional advancement. While we provide insight and explanation as to how the law intersects with their diverse fields, these professionals bring a wealth of varied professional and academic experience.

For example, an anesthesiologist in one of our programs greatly contributes to course discussions about health care regulations and oversight for the purposes of administrative law, providing the perspective of someone who has lived it for 30 years.  I can tell students where to find rulemaking, and he can share how rulemaking affects the profession.

In addition to learning from each other, our online students appreciate the fact that our mediation course is led by a Ph.D. and all of our other courses are taught by lawyers. We have one adjunct professor who represents a hospital and probably bills his time at $1,500 per hour.  The professionals who are willing to step forward and teach our programs do so because they want to give back to the community and share their knowledge. That’s why students give us high marks in value both early on in the program, and post-graduation.

Our vision [for online programming] is to continue expanding. The American Bar Association just approved a master of science in law and policy that will allow us to build out a variety of concentrations.

Examples include data security law, family law, immigration law, etc.

There are a lot of professionals out there who are interested in accessing information about the law without committing to law school or leaving their jobs, their careers. We think we’ll be able to make that connection for a whole variety of individuals who are expected to comply with regulations in their fields.

SERVING STUDENT AND COMMUNITY NEEDS

Student research assistants have the opportunity to help professors prepare different aspects of a case for trial through NSU’s law clinics. Students can conduct research to find out whether or not we can order records from Broward Sherriff’s Office under a discovery request when the state is saying those are privileged documents. They can put together the argument, package it, and observe the court proceedings. Certified students enrolled in the clinic can even participate by practicing law in their third year of law school before they graduate.

Students applying to the Florida Bar in their second year of law school can be cleared to practice law in a not-for-profit the following year. That means a third year law student in a certified clinic placement can practice law as a Certified Legal Intern (CLI). They can go to court, call witnesses, and take testimony with the supervision of a lawyer – something that a real lawyer working for a law firm most likely won’t do for another two-or-three years.

Shepard Broad College of Law operates clinics for children’s family, veterans, and more. We also arrange field placements for students in environmental law, civil law, criminal justice, even private investigation. The combination provides tremendous opportunities for students to get real-world experience before they graduate.

STUDENT-CENTERED CONSIDERATIONS

Not everyone is going to do well on the LSAT or SAT, but that does not mean that they can’t do the work. And there are lots of examples of success with NSU’s Alternative Application Model Program in Legal Education (AAMPLE®).

The last four or five chiefs of Law Review have all been AAMPLE® students. The number one student a couple of years ago came out of AAMPLE®. These were all students who did not get direct admits either because of a low GPA, a lower LSAT, or some combination thereof.

There are many reasons why people may not have the statistical criteria for direct admit. Consider, for example, the undergraduate student whose poor performance coincides with his father being sick, or a lost job. Given the opportunity to perform, some students demonstrate excellence and go on to become great lawyers.

I feel NSU’s AAMPLE® is a source of pride for most people. Some people might propose that NSU would look like a different institution and move up in rankings if we did not have below median LSAT scores to report. The issue comes down to which constituent you consider in that value position. I don’t necessarily think that you have to get rid of AAMPLE® in order to change your rankings.

I am always pleased when students come through AAMPLE® and succeed in law school because it really is ‘I told you so; the presumptions about me were wrong.’ It is great to see people find success when others suggest people seeking a law degree cannot or should not.