| NAPLA: A Brief History
|Francis Graham Lee
Saint Joseph's University
Graham Lee 1970s - 1980s
- 1990s - 2000s - Conferences
- Notes Editors
|1970 - 1979
|Historians always will debate
whether a person makes the events, or the events make the person.
The founding of the Northeast Association of Pre-Law Advisors in the
summer of 1973 probably owes a little to both factors. Admission to
law school had suddenly become much more competitive when Hope Brothers,
formerly of Brown University, moved to Williams College, bringing
with her a host of connections to pre-law advisors, admissions officers,
and officials of LSAC.
The first meeting
at Williams College with 125 pre-law advisors and thirty admissions
officers in attendance surely owed a little to both for its success,
but like other activities of the Association, it probably owed most
to the over 150 participants who gathered in Williamstown,
Massachusetts that summer. The "Report on Conference on
Law School Admission" paints a picture of an organization that, from
the beginning, was bent on fostering a better understanding of the
law school admissions process, as well as developing a means for advisor
input into decisions involving the LSAT and the related services then
being developed to streamline the admissions process.
second Williams Conference, held in June of 1974, formalized the new
organization which originally had embraced only pre-law advisors in
New England, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Hope Brothers
was chosen as Chairman (the title President was first used in 1975) and the first issue of NAPLA
News and Notes appeared in November of 1974 under the editorship of
David Cullings of Cornell. Lee Verstandig of Brown was to succeed
Brothers and presided over the Hartford Conference (1975). Verstandig
subsequently resigned to pursue a career in public service and was
succeeded by Beryl Dean of the University of Pennsylvania who organized
the first conference at a law school - Columbia - in 1976, and the
first of the four Haverford Conferences. Other pre-law advisors who
played major roles in the founding of NAPLA include Henry Littlefield
(Brown University), Jim Traer (Hamilton College), Douglas Chaffey
(Chatham College), Drue Matthews (Mount Holyoke College), and Henry McMahon (Boston College).
school admissions officers quickly found that NAPLA conferences
enabled them to advance agenda items that they found helpful to the
admission process, but that were not then given high priority by LSAC.
John Deliso of Suffolk, Jim Muller of Rutgers -Newark and Ann Kendrick
of Lewis and Clark had been there from the beginning. Admission officers
were granted associate membership status in NAPLA in 1975 and in June
of 1979 Jeremiah Healy of New England Law School became the first
associate member to be selected to sit with the Executive Committee
(as the Board of Directors was then called).
associate members, for the first time were able to vote for this position.
early as 1974, NAPLA had requested the pre-law advisors be represented on the Pre-Law
Committee of LSAC. This would be a continuing refrain of most of the
succeeding NAPLA business meetings. NAPLA's request did produce early,
positive results in that Presidents Hope Brothers, Beryl Dean and
David Hosford attended meetings of the Pre-Law Committee and Dean
made a presentation at a national meeting of A.A.L.S.
Closely connected with these activities were efforts by NAPLA
to work in coordination with other "APLA's" that were formed afterwards to advance the interests of pre-law students. President Dean attended
the 1978 MAPLA meeting in Chicago and it was quickly agreed that NAPLA
should continue such ventures in the hope that by coordinating with
the other organizations, pre-law advisors might
gain greater access to LSAC. Shortly afterwards in 1979, Dick Badger
of the University of Chicago would become the "unofficial" LSAC liaison
to NAPLA. Badger would be succeeded in 1980 by Steve Yandle of Yale
whose appointment initiated a formal link between LSAC and NAPLA that
continued until the mid-1990s when LSAC terminated it. In 1980, all
of the regional presidents met in Chicago and agreed to hold annual
meetings. Finally, at the 1984 Rosemont NAPLA Conference, PLANC, the
Pre-Law Advisors National Coordinating Council, came into being, a
year after Phil Shelton had organized a preliminary meeting in Newtown
of the regional presidents.
| 1980 - 1989
The 1980s brought other changes
to the Association. Financially, the 1970s represented a period of
tight budgets. Executive committee meetings frequently were highlighted
by a home-cooked dinner and hotel accommodations that were less than
one star. Conferences were also run with an eye to keeping costs low.
The 1980 Haverford Conference, however, produced what were noted as
"excessive conference profits" and ushered in an era in which the
Association could be more venturesome in offering services to its
members. The size of the membership also had changed with a dramatic
up tick in the numbers of admissions officers who joined and who now
attended conferences regularly. The 1980 Haverford Conference also
represented the first time that commercial LSAT prep people were able
to attend the conference; their participation in the 1979 program
at Connecticut had been carefully limited to a panel with NAPLA's
redoubtable Dorothy Clark and representatives of LSAC.
1980 business meetings also produced the only contested election for
president and the only time that a nominee from the floor (Willa Folch-Pi)
was elected as an officer (secretary). The Board had earlier adopted
a policy encouraging competitive elections for the Association. In
1981, as a result of these changes, there were between five and six
candidates for each position on the executive committee. The period
of competitiveness was short-lived, however. In 1983, the nominating
committee reported a dearth of candidates, presenting an unopposed
slate for all positions. In 1984, however, the conference planning
committee was dramatically increased in size in order to give newer
members an opportunity to contribute their services to the Association.
1983 witnessed the incorporation of
NAPLA and the inauguration of the practice
of having a gala event as part of the conference program. That year's
Connecticut Conference, presided over by Willa Folch-Pi of Tufts University,
inaugurated the first conference gala, a cruise with a New Orleans-style
jazz band to serenade us. The idea of a pre-law handbook had surfaced
in 1979, but it was only in 1983 that Ed Stern of Boston University
accepted the editorship. The first Stern edition appeared at the 1984
Rosemont Conference (to be followed by a second edition in 1989 at
Colgate). Finally, "NAPLA Notes" was re- established under the editorship
of Gailyn Casaday of Cornell.
A less positive note from the eighties was a sharp decline in relations with
LSAC. NAPLA sessions with LSAC's Bruce Zimmer and Thomas White stood
in marked contrast with earlier relations with Peter Winograd. NAPLA
no longer maintained the close relations with the Pre-Law
Committee that had characterized the seventies. One factor leading
to this situation was the perception by NAPLA members that the
quality of services emanating from LSAC had declined. The 1980 LSAC/LSAS
shifted test development away from ETS, which naturally triggered
adjustments. Not all of these proceeded well. Changes in test questions
and scoring scales contributed to the tension and sessions with representatives
at business meetings became highly charged affairs.
divisive issue that occurred during this period was an effort to have
NAPLA rank law schools. This triggered one of the sharpest debates
within an already-divided executive committee. The result was that
the project was aborted. One of the objections to the survey was the
amount of publicity that such a survey would garner from the media
and the possibility that the rankings would not be accurate.
services to members continued to be developed in this
period. Suzanne Meyerowitz brought to her tenure as president (1985-86)
not only leadership skills, but "The Rochester Locator", which has
evolved into the current "NAPLA-Boston College Locator". Frank Homer,
from the time he became a member of the Board was interested in membership,
and developed the annual Membership Directory which appeared for
the first time in 1988. Finally, as a result of a generous donation
by Stanley Kaplan, Jonathan Lurie of Rutgers University was able to
assemble, weed through, and organize the various documents of the
Association into an archive that is currently housed at the University
|1990 - 1999
The nineties represented continued growth for the Association.
West Virginia was added.
The Bylaws were revised in 1990, 1996 and most recently in 2001,
to reflect the changes in the Association. Membership approached
the five hundred level. Former NAPLA President and then PLANC Chair
Robert Gibson of SUNY-Albany helped create the first National Pre-Law
Conference in October 1992 in New Orleans. NAPLA's participation
in that conference, and its successor in June1996 in Orlando clearly
established our Association as the largest of the "APLA's".
1995 NAPLA came out with a new "NAPLA Handbook for Pre-Law Advisors"
edited by Jeanne Dillon of Tufts University, and authored by several
contributors.It was revised for a second edition in 2000. In 1996,
one at-large member increased the size of the Board of Directors.
At the same meeting, for the first time, a NAPLA member from outside its
traditional region was elected to serve on the Board of Directors.
Long-time NAPLA member Gerald Wilson of Duke University, former SAPLA
President and founding Chair of PLANC, joined the Board and served
two full terms. Besides the warmth of his friendship, it was helpful
for the NAPLA Board to have Gerald there. He helped the Board to gain
some insight into how another APLA handles issues similar to our own.
In 1997, Dom DeLeo of Boston College
developed the "Boston College Range Finder" to assist pre-law students
in identifying those schools most likely to admit applicants with
GPA/LSAT numbers similar to their own. Ed Stern and Gerald Wilson
have, for many years, compiled what was originally a supplement to
the NAPLA Guide edited by Ed Stern. It evolved into "The NAPLA/SAPLA
Book of Law School Lists" and is still updated annually.
NAPLA's most loyal contributors (who turned down many opportunities
to be NAPLA President) was Chuck Longley of Bucknell University. Chuck
had attended the first conference in 1973, and was a fixture at NAPLA
until his death in the fall of 1998. Because of his many years of
tireless service and outstanding contributions to "NAPLA Notes" and
other NAPLA publications, in 1999 the Board of Directors established
the "Chuck Longley Award" to be awarded annually to someone who makes
an outstanding contribution to NAPLA publications.
NAPLA went online in 2000 extending its presence in the world of prelaw
advising. It is hoped that the Associations web page will energize those
members who do not regularly attend the regional meetings. As the Association
grows it seeks to maintain its relationship to the members and to help
them better serve their advisees.
NAPLA Conferences and Presidents Elected
||Hope Richards (Brothers)
||Hope Richards (Brothers)
||University of Hartford
||Francis Graham Lee
||University of Rochester
||Frank X. J. Homer
||St. Joseph's University
||J. Joseph Burns
||Towson State University
||St. Joseph's University
||Carol L. Wright
||Orlando, FL (with PLANC)
||Carol L. Wright
||Suffolk Law School
||Williamsburg, VA (with SAPLA)
||Carnegie- Mellon University
||PLANC - Boston
||Fordham Law School
||George Mason Law School
||U. of Penn. Law School
||Yale Law School
||Duke Law School (with SAPLA)
||Suffolk University Law School
|| Washington D.C. (with PLANC)
Editors of NAPLA Notes
||Cornell University/Wheaton College
||American University School of Law
||Washington & Lee College
||Saint Joseph's University
||Francis Graham Lee
Author's Note: The above is not intended as a definitive study of the Association, nor is it my memoir of my service with NAPLA. I must acknowledge the meticulous scholarship of Jonathan Lurie of Rutgers University-Newark who created the NAPLA Archive and the generosity of Stanley Kaplan whose donation made that venture possible. Any errors or omissions in the following are my responsibility solely and suggestions for corrections and/or additions are welcomed.
Editor's Note: The above history has been edited by the NAPLA Editorial Board. If you find errors or omissions please contact the webmaster. We would also like copies of historic photos in your possession.
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