By Riley Parr, 2020 Law Student Division Chair
Dean Klein’s webinar on April 2 provided highly valuable information on a number of topics directly relevant to McKinney students during this unprecedented time. He explained that he and Dean Bravo, the law school’s incoming dean, talk with IUPUI Chancellor Paydar nearly every day so that the school can stay up-to-date on the latest COVID-19 news.
Noting that this is a trying and unprecedented time for all, Dean Klein expressed his confidence that we will persevere and move past this, but that in the meantime the school’s administrators are still open for business and doing all they can to support students. He and Dean Bravo reiterated that IU is as well-positioned as possible to respond as the situation develops.
Dean Klein addressed a number of points, summarized below:
- Grading: As a result of the unforeseen circumstances caused by the virus, the law school moved to pass/fail grading for the vast majority of courses this semester. As you might imagine, trying to maintain a fair method of assessment has no easy answer, but given the challenging personal circumstances facing many McKinney students—those who are caregivers, have lost jobs and have poor internet connections—following the trend of the vast majority of other law schools by instituting pass/fail grading made the most sense.
- Final Exams: If a student catches COVID-19 and it could interfere with taking final exams, reach out to Dean Thompson immediately. Dean Klein also mentioned Dean Pitts’ memo sent to all students within the last week that address many of the collateral issues concerning grading and assignments.
- Summer Courses: McKinney will not hold any onsite activities during the summer. All Indiana University campuses are closed for all activities through July. At least for now, until professors and administrators have a chance to see how summer enrollment goes, students are limited to two classes per student so that evening students stay on-track to graduate. Dean Klein did note that they would re-evaluate probably late next week to see how summer enrollment numbers compare with prior years and class availability. Courses this summer will count towards the ABA 30-credit limit; however, this semester’s courses will not. As for course tuition, any summer class originally planned as in-person will have no additional fees. No decision has been made yet about courses originally scheduled as online.
- Graduation: Given that activities at IU campuses are cancelled throughout the summer, it simply is not possible at this point to plan for re-scheduling commencement. Dean Klein did express his sorrow, especially since this would be his final graduation ceremony as dean. For information about regalia, handled by third-party Herff Jones, see emails sent out by Student Affairs.
- July Bar Exam: Some states have postponed the July sitting of the bar exam. The National Conference of Bar Examiners, the entity that administers the multi-state portion of the exam, plans to decide by early May whether or not a July bar exam will occur. At this point, Indiana still hopes to administer the July exam, and Chief Justice Rush recently put together a small group that includes Dean Klein to brainstorm what course of action Indiana should take. The Indiana Supreme Court is working hard to come up with the best possible solutions given the available options. For now, plan on the July exam occurring, but if that changes, Michele Cooley will be in contact.
- Fall Classes: Plan to attend classes in the fall as normal. If a “spike” in cases ends up happening later in the year, McKinney will evaluate the situation as it develops and respond accordingly. But for now, plan as though classes will be held in-person.
- Job Market: Dean Klein made no bones about it—the economy, and legal job market, will be challenging, probably similar to the economy following the 2008 crash. But stick with it. Don’t get frustrated. Maintain connections. Sonja Rice explained that she and others at the school have reached out (and will continue doing so) to employers and try to get a sense of what they plan to do, including OCI. In the meantime, connect with the legal community by joining bar associations, keep applying to jobs, including outside of Indianapolis, and practice good self-care. Things will improve.
- Emergency Fund: Designed to assist with one-time expenses for students facing an expenditure like rent or emergency care repair, this fund will be opened up to all McKinney students, including M.J. and LL.M.
- Tech: If you haven’t had any issues this week with technology issues, then you’re probably in good shape for the rest of the semester. Headphones are probably helpful but not required. Also don’t forget about IU ware, available at iuware.iu.edu to download free software.
- International Students: If you are here on a visa, you should have received information from the school.
- Wellness: Finally, social distancing is not social isolation. If you’re struggling, it’s ok and natural. In fact, it would be odd if you aren’t. Accept that it’s a difficult time, but also recognize that this time will pass, and we will move on to brighter days. If you do need to reach out, JLAP, the McKinney family, and IndyBar are here any time to help. Just need someone to talk to? Give me a call. I’m always happy to lend an ear.
If you have any questions, please reach out. We’ll get through this, and emerge even stronger on the other side.