“We have hired a consultant to conduct a market and demand analysis to help Coastal Law determine the need for student housing, the types of housing desired by our students, the price points for the housing and the locations for that housing,” said Coastal Law professor Teresa Heekin Davlantes, who also is vice president of strategy and general counsel.
“This market and demand analysis will involve focus groups with students, surveys of students, meetings with key law school employees, meetings with City officials and touring various areas of the city,” she said.
She said the school expects to find that students are interested in living in different parts of town depending upon their year in law school, outside work situations and hobbies and interests.
“First-year law students may be interested in living closer to campus because they spend a great deal of time at the school in class, at the library and studying with other students. Upper division students may be interested in living closer to the courthouse and to law firms for whom they may be clerking,” Davlantes said.
“We are in the data-gathering mode and will decide how many locations and how many beds are needed after we receive the results of the market analysis,” she said.
She said the market and demand analysis will help clarify how many students would be served. The locations also will take into account where the students work or clerk, such as with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid and lawyers Downtown.
“In addition to student demand, we anticipate that we will look closely at the ways to get the students greater exposure to experiential learning opportunities,” she said.
“At Coastal Law, we are committed to providing numerous opportunities for students to acquire real-world skills in a variety of practice areas. These opportunities may come in the form of working with a lawyer in a clerking position, working at JALA meeting the needs of indigent clients, completing an internship with a judge, the State Attorney’s Office or the Public Defender’s Office or working with a corporate legal department,” she said.
The school operates at 8787 Baypine Road in the Baymeadows area of Southside.
After the analysis is completed, “we will work as swiftly as possible to complete the new construction or remodeling an existing structure, if the analysis indicates the demand is there,” she said.
Asked if a satellite campus or school facilities are possible, Davlantes indicated Coastal Law is taking a look.
“Since the school first opened, we have considered moving Downtown. While we are in a long-term lease at our current location, we are exploring the possibility of having an additional presence in the city if that will help us to achieve our mission,” she said.
The school was founded 16 years ago and its first campus was on Beach Boulevard near the Hart Expressway. It moved to Baymeadows in August 2006.
It signed a 20-year lease in a sale-leaseback agreement in February 2011.
Dean Peter Goplerud said in an interview a year ago that the school seriously considered a Downtown location, but “ultimately there were some considerations that caused us to focus on the current site.”
At the time, there were parking and security issues Downtown that were not easily resolvable, he said.
Coastal Law spokesman Brooks Terry said about 1,600 students are enrolled at the school.
“We are open to exploring all options Downtown, including student housing, as well as space that could expand academics,” said Terry, director of marketing and communications.
“However, we will have to do our due diligence before we can commit to making any Downtown presence a reality,” he said.
Florida Coastal School of Law expects a market demand analysis within 60 days to determine what types of housing its students might need – and where, which means there is potential for Downtown housing.