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.
The 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).
Law 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).
In 2003, associate members, for the first time were able to vote for this position.
As 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.
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.
The 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.
Another 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.
Additional 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 of Scranton.
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”.
In 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.
One of 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.
|1973||Williams College||Hope Richards (Brothers)||1994||American University||Charles Neal|
|1974||Williams College||Hope Richards (Brothers)||1995||St. Joseph’s University||Carol L. Wright|
|1975||University of Hartford||Henry Littlefield||1996||Orlando, FL (with PLANC)||Carol L. Wright|
|1976||Columbia University||Lee Verstandig||1997||Boston College||Dom DeLeo|
|1977||Haverford College||Beryl Dean||1998||Quinnipiac College||Bruce Auerbach|
|1978||Haverford College||David Hosford||1999||Lafayette College||Pauline Harrington|
|1979||Connecticut College||Douglas Chaffey||2000||Suffolk Law School||Jane Levy|
|1980||Haverford College||Dennis Johnson||2001||Williamsburg, VA (with SAPLA)||Pauline Harrington|
|1981||SUNY Albany||Robert Hopkins||2002||American University||Heather Struck|
|1982||Georgetown University||Robert Gibson||2003||Carnegie- Mellon University||Jack Carter|
|1983||Connecticut College||Willa Folch-Pi||2004||PLANC – Boston||Gail Dyer|
|1984||Rosemont College||Francis Graham Lee||2005||Fordham Law School||Ursula Olender|
|1985||University of Rochester||Suzanne Meyerowitz||2006||George Mason Law School||Heather Struck|
|1986||Haverford College||Frank X. J. Homer||2007||U. of Penn. Law School||Lyon Zabsky|
|1987||Tufts University||Edward Stern||2008||Cornell University||Jane Levy|
|1988||American University||Gail Yaus||2009||Yale Law School||Cindy Cogdill|
|1989||Colgate University||Judy Fisher||2010||Duke Law School (with SAPLA)||Elizabeth O’Connell|
|1990||St. Joseph’s University||Jonathan Lurie||2011||Suffolk University Law School||Karen Clemence|
|1991||Boston College||J. Joseph Burns||2012||Washington D.C. (with PLANC)||Vielka Holness|
|1992||Towson State University||Jack Fruchtman||2013||Philadelphia, PA||Todd Rothman|
|1993||Tufts University||Jeanne Dillon||2014||Baltimore, MD||Karen Graziano|
|1974||Dave Cullings||Cornell University|
|1975||Charles Longley||Lehigh University|
|1980||(co-editor)||Cornell University/Wheaton College|
|1981||Gailyn Casady||American University School of Law|
|1982||Elizabeth Rosselot||Washington & Lee College|
|1985||Michael Cappeto||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.