BY JAMES HARPER
A Jacksonville attorney said “plans are still full steam ahead” to start a law school, but it will not be in Daytona Beach.
Attorney Eric Smith said he was shocked when he learned last month that the old Daytona Beach Police Department building on the corner of Orange Avenue and Nova Road did not meet the size qualifications for a law school.
Daytona Beach city officials had been telling Smith and his partners from Jacksonville that the building had 55,000 square feet of space available for use. An appraisal on the building actually found that there is just 38,000 square feet of usable space.
“We never would have gone through all that trouble. We were shocked it was 12,000-square feet smaller,” Smith said, adding they are committed to the community and though the law school will not be in Daytona Beach, it will still be in Volusia County.
South Daytona still on list
Smith would not tell the Daytona Times the new proposed location of the school but said plans are for the partners to open it later this year.
The Daytona Times was able to learn that they are looking at a site in South Daytona.
“My understanding is that a law school has shown interest in locations in our city, however, nothing has yet been finalized,” said Jeanne Willard, public information officer for City of South Daytona.
Practicing attorneys would be teachers
Working with Smith are Steven Nemerson, an attorney who would be the school’s dean, and developer Jim Catlett.
They hope to initially enroll 80 students and grow the student body to 600 as well as secure accreditation from the American Bar Association (ABA), according to the National Law Journal.
Plans also call for the school to keep costs low by focusing on attracting practicing attorneys to teach.
The school would need a license from the city to operate, and after one year, could apply to the ABA for provisional accreditation. An application for full accreditation could follow in three to five years.
Those involved say the school, which will be called the Florida Space Coast School of Law, would emphasize public service and pro bono work, and foster a cooperative, rather than competitive, atmosphere.
Nemerson and Smith believe the lower cost of education isn’t the only thing that will set them apart from Florida’s 12 other law schools. The new law school’s founders also plan to use practicing attorneys and judges as faculty.