Law school and University of Alaska Anchorage work to develop new law degree program for Alaskans
(June 1, 2012) Seattle University School of Law and the University of Alaska Anchorage have signed a formal Letter of Intent to extend an existing partnership to include the development of a juris doctor (JD) curriculum for Alaskans. The extension of this collaborative relationship between UAA and SU will allow Alaska residents to receive a JD from Seattle University while completing some of their degree requirements on UAA's campus.
The law school and UAA have collaborated to offer a summer Study Law in Alaska program on UAA's campus for the past 10 years. Alaska is the only state without its own law school.
"Offering opportunities for Alaskans, with particular attention given to place-committed, rural and native Alaskans, to obtain a quality education in Alaska solidifies and aligns the mission of Seattle University School of Law with the legal needs of Alaska," Dean Mark C. Niles said. "We hope that, to the extent possible, we can work with the other law schools in the state of Washington."
It is the first step toward an intended launch of this collaborative law degree program and requires approval of the SU administration and law school faculty, as well as American Bar Association. The two schools must finalize a curriculum, work with judiciary and other members of the Alaska legal community to solidify externships in Alaska, and work to receive program approval from the ABA and other university and community stakeholders.
"This is a huge step forward in providing Alaskans an option to receive a law degree without having to leave the state for the entirety of their education," said UAA Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Mike Driscoll. "A partnership such as this is quite unique in law education."
Chief Justice Walter L. Carpeneti and Chief Justice-elect Dana Fabe of the Alaska Supreme Court said in a joint statement:
"This is good news indeed for Alaskan students who are contemplating a career in the law. Seattle University has a long history of providing legal education in Alaska through its summer sessions at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and the agreement of these two institutions to work to take the concept to the next level - a full law degree program that can be obtained without the need for Alaskans to leave the state for three years - offers all Alaskans, and especially Native Alaskans from rural portions of the state, a chance to earn a legal degree while maintaining their contacts in the state. We can think of few actions that hold more promise to offer the chance for a legal education to all Alaskans while increasing the diversity of the Alaska bar and, eventually, the Alaska bench. Our court has met with representatives of Seattle University in the past and enthusiastically supports the concept of enhancing educational opportunities for Alaskan students."