ASU Downtown Law School

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Arizona State University announced plans for its new law college in downtown Phoenix. Dean of the ASU Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Douglas Sylvester, will talk about the plans for the new law school.

Ted Simons: ASU announces design plans for the University's new law college in downtown Phoenix. Joining us now to talk about the facility is Douglas Sylvester, Dean of ASU, the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law. I am excited because they have a new building here. Good to have you here.

Douglas Sylvester: Good to be back.

Ted Simons: So is this the final design unveiled today?

Douglas Sylvester: No, we're getting close. And, and so we have got some, some further steps to go through with the city, and some further design choices to make with our architect but we're getting close, the building will look something similar to this.

Ted Simons: Ok, and let's take a look at the design drawings here. And where exactly where this be located?

Douglas Sylvester: Yeah, so it's right on the corner of, of 1st and Taylor, and so, right kitty corner from the Cronkite school, one block north of van buren and one block east of central.

Ted Simons: And as far as the financing is concerned, is that a done deal? Or do we have a ways to go?

Douglas Sylvester: The building will get built but we have fundraising to do and, and we have got to prove to the board of regents that we can, we can make all of the economics work, that this building will get done.

Ted Simons: And how much is it going to take to make this viable?

Douglas Sylvester: The building is 129 million project, and it's an overall part of a 200 million investment in the college, and the downtown campus and, and, and we need to do some, some small amount of fundraising, but most of that is already in place or going to be in place soon. We feel confident.

Ted Simons: And you mentioned this will get built --

Douglas Sylvester: It is.

Ted Simons: When will it get started?

Douglas Sylvester: It will break ground in June, confidently in June, and is going to open its doors in fall of 2016 .

Ted Simons: It's a beautiful structure there by the design drawing, that looks very, very nice and, and completed when? Summer, summer --

Douglas Sylvester: Summer of 2016, we're opening up for the fall semester of 2016.

Ted Simons: Why move the school from Tempe to downtown Phoenix?

Douglas Sylvester: So, the idea is something bigger than law school. So the building is the Arizona center for law and society. And the law school will be a piece of that. So one thing is engaging the downtown community, the political, legal and, and business communities on the importance of law in every day life. And, so we think that sometimes, out in Tempe, that, that the importance of law and lawyers and law school can get lost, so we wanted to bring this back to the city, and the core and, and being downtown makes that available. It also offers amazing opportunities for our students to get reengaged with more employers and gets them closer to clinic opportunities, and lastly, we're a public law school. We have always been incredibly engaged. Our students donate 100,00 hours of pro bono legal services, an 11 million economic benefit, and that's located in Tempe, so we think that we can do more good here downtown.

Ted Simons: I was going to say that civic outreach would increase if the building in the facility were down here.

Douglas Sylvester: Absolutely.

Ted Simons: Will there be a presence in Tempe?

Douglas Sylvester: No, actually not.

Ted Simons: No.

Douglas Sylvester: The law school is moving downtown, the current buildings will be re-purposed, I don't think that ASU is in a position to knock them down, so, it will get other use.

Ted Simons: And we talked about this before on this program. The public law firm employing graduates of the law college, that will be included, as well.

Douglas Sylvester: That's going to be included, and that's going to open the doors before we move downtown. We have hired an incredibly distinguished lawyer, Marty harper, to be the CEO of that firm, and he's going to be opening its doors in the next two months, and we'll have a location, and it's going to be the world's first nonprofit fully privately financed teaching law firm that will employ our graduates, and in the course of two or three years, engaging and helping every day Arizonans in their legal matters and teaching these graduates how to be lawyers.

Ted Simons: And to move downtown would help, help --

Douglas Sylvester: Yes, absolutely. A big piece of the new building, so it will be a public service law firm in a lot of ways.

Ted Simons: Did the success of the Cronkite school, the success of the nursing school downtown, did that a, influence the decision, and b, does that show the law college the way on how to procedure?

Douglas Sylvester: I think it did not hurt to know that you can move downtown and be successful. There had been a lot of talk about moving the law school downtown for a long time. And I think that a lot of the, the faculty, probably didn't think it was a great idea when we would have been the only ones down here to join our large community of educators and students and to see the way that downtown phoenix has grown. That was exciting for us. It has always been a good fit but we wanted to be part of the campus and that's here.

Ted Simons: Has there been pushback from faculty?

Douglas Sylvester: I think there would have been if they did not have a large campus. And overall, we have had enthusiastic faculty support, our students are disappointed that most of them won't get to the new building. Once we build it, you will be there more as alumni than you were a student. So something -- We are hoping to have lots of reasons to come back.

Ted Simons: That's one way to put it.

Douglas Sylvester: Right.

Ted Simons: Student housing, is that a concern down here? It's already a concern but now you have got this law college.

Douglas Sylvester: So first, the students are older. And so, they tend not to, to live in dorms. They tend to be looking for their own housing and, and there is a lot of private housing that's gone up around here, and as we get closer, we're going to look pretty hard at trying to lease space instead of decide for our out of state students, and local students who want to move downtown but we want them to live as close to the core as we can to, again, sort of really enrich the entire campus.

Ted Simons: So the board of regents still have to approve.

Douglas Sylvester: There is a meeting in June, and we will have to go in front of them and prove that we can afford this and get it done, and we will, and we'll break ground right after that.

Ted Simons: And financing still needs to be completed as you mentioned, a number of times here, and but again, what do we look for? What kind of schedule is that on?

Douglas Sylvester: Sure, so the financing is close, to get more background, we have gone in front of the board of regents and they have given us authority to move forward on the building, that's why we've been able to hire architects and construction companies and, and with the great designs, so, we have gone really far down the road, we just have to prove that everything that we said to get this kind of green light, is already still in place and, and at the moment, we're confident that it will be.

Ted Simons: Ok.

Douglas Sylvester: I think it's going to happen.

Ted Simons: So we're looking at maybe breaking ground if the board of regents give their ok, and looking at the summer of 2016 for new neighbors in downtown Phoenix?

Douglas Sylvester: We'll be working with you more.

Ted Simons: Congratulations, and good luck, and we look to be speaking about this more with you in the future.

Douglas Sylvester: Thank you very much.

Douglas Sylvester:Dean, ASU Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law;

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