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Ohio Northern names new law dean

Legal News Reporter

Published: April 25, 2013

Ohio Northern University, located in Ada, Ohio, has announced that it has named Richard Bales as the new dean of its Claude W. Petit College of Law.

“I am excited about this new opportunity, and to be a part of a cohesive team that is already in place and running a successful law school,” said Bales.

Bales currently serves on the faculty of the law school at Northern Kentucky University. He move to Ada in June and take up his full-time position on July 1, he said. In the interim, he will travel as a Fulbright Senior Specialist to Jakarta, Indonesia. It will be his second such excursion.

He expects to obtain housing in Ada in May or June, and then perform some activities on behalf of the law school before he officially takes his post, he said. Although he has never lived in Ohio,, his Kentucky home is very close to the Ohio border and he said that he often goes across the bridge into Cincinnati while out running.

The school began its search for a new dean when Dean David C. Crago became ONU’s provost and vice president of academic affairs last summer. Stephen C. Veltri has served as interim dean since that time.

“Rick (Bales) is a great addition to the institution,” said Crago. “I am confident he will work closely with the faculty and staff to maintain and enhance the excellent tradition and reputation of the law college. I also would like to acknowledge Stephen Veltri’s strong leadership and dedication while serving as interim dean.”

Bales is an elected member of the American Law Institute and a fellow of the American Bar Foundation. He is actively involved in several sections of the American Bar Association, and chairs the ABA committee in charge of the National Negotiation Competition.

Bales, 45, said that he believes Ohio Northern’s law school has been doing a very good job to this point, and that he is taking over a school that is in a very strong position in the market.

Ohio Northern University’s law school, a small, private school near Lima, is not ranked in the top 100 of the U.S. News and World Report law school rankings. In fact, only three of Ohio’s nine law schools are so ranked.

But Bales notes that those rankings can be misleading and do not necessarily relate to the effect that a law school has on a graduate’s abilities to obtain a desired position after graduation. He said that the rankings are tuned into LSAT scores of incoming freshmen, and not to placing graduates into legal positions.

“The rankings mean something, because some applicants and some employers pay attention to them,” said Bales. “But the rankings themselves do not indicate the quality of the school, and this is where Ohio Northern excels.”

In that latter category, ONU is one of the best in the state.

Last year, the school ranked ninth in the nation in placement in government and public service attorney positions, and second in the state in job placement for jobs requiring a law degree.

Veltri said that he was happy to be second, but “would like to do better. With Rick, we are looking to improve on the last 10 years of strong leadership.”

“Ohio Northern is an example of how a law school adds value to a student’s legal education,” said Bales. “Students come out with more than the knowledge that they need to pass the bar—they come out with legal and reasoning skills, and the bar exam is only one metric.”

Once Bales lands, he will spend time connecting with faculty, staff, students and alumni. “I will be listening to everything about the school,” he said. “What makes it tick. What the challenges are. I’ll do much more listening than talking.” He does not expect to teach, at least not for awhile.

Bales is, “a huge proponent of experiential learning in law school. Students learn much better by doing than by just lecturing. There must be room for other types of learning.”

He said that he believes that the ONU mission has been, “very successful. I look forward to building on that.”