UPDATED: Louisiana welcomes new law school

Louisiana College, a private university owned by the Louisiana Baptist Convention, will open a law school in Shreveport, La.

Louisiana College Judge Paul Pressler School of Law will be housed at the former CNB/United Mercantile building at N. Market Street, with plans to open in August 2012.

The college announced it was opening a law school in 2007. The owners donated the building to the school. Constructed in 1904, the building is within walking distance of several courthouses and law offices.

Founding Dean J. Michael Johnson said many factors influenced their decision, including the expansive legal community in the Shreveport-Bossier area.

The city of Shreveport is a population hub in northwest Louisiana — where Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas meet — and will be the only law school in the area. It is the third-largest city in the state of Louisiana.

The law school will be named for Judge Paul Pressler III, a retired justice for the Texas Court of Appeals and a leader of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The college already has plans to expand the school by building an 80,000 square foot addition that would include a lecture hall, library, student center and a glass-enclosed tennis and basketball court — estimated to cost between $4 to $7 million.

Johnson said they have a tight timetable from now until the inaugural class of 60 students start in fall 2012.

His immediate agenda is hiring and securing admissions and assistant deans positions. Areas of curriculum focus include civil and common law traditions.

“There is lots of discussion about catering to the needs of the region,” said Johnson of the healthcare, oil and gas industries. “This is a good time for us.”