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Seattle University announces plans for Alaska law degree

Alaska Dispatch

The Alaska Legislature didn't see fit to fund a law school for the state so students wouldn't have to move away to get an education. So the University of Alaska and Seattle University are hoping to work together to make law school a reality.

The two schools announced Friday they plan to further enhance a partnership that would allow Seattle University to offer a juris doctorate degree to students who complete some coursework at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

SU has been offering a law summer session at the UAA campus for the last 10 years, notes a joint press release from the two schools. But the JD degree -- if approved by the American Bar Association and the SU administration and law faculty -- would help rural Alaskans and Alaska Natives study the law without having to leave the state for up to three years.

Alaska Supreme Court chief justice Walter Carpeneti and chief justice-elect Dana Fabe offered comment on the announcement:

“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.”

Pre-law advising is currently offered through the UAA Justice Center.