Willamette Lawyer | Spring 2014
WUCL – Home of the Northern Lights: Deemed “Alaska’s Law School,” Willamette’s College of Law has a surprising number of grads putting their law degrees to work in the Land of the Midnight Sun.
Through the 3+3 Program implemented in Corvallis last fall, OSU students can earn their combined bachelor’s and law degrees in six years. The program is an extension of one already offered to College of Liberal Arts students at Willamette. Through both programs, qualified students save time and money by earning both degrees in six years instead of the usual seven. In the OSU program, students who qualify for the program spend their first three years at OSU’s main campus in Corvallis pursuing a major in one of the approved 3+3 degree tracks. The last three years are spent at Willamette University’s College of Law. Easing debt load Willamette College of Law Dean Curtis Bridgeman traveled to Anchorage last summer to personally propose the program for the University of Alaska Anchorage. He believes the program will benefit the students and both universities equally. Students are able to complete their education in a shorter time, easing their debt load while gaining an extra year of earning power. Meanwhile, Willamette has the opportunity to continue recruiting some of Alaska’s top students, and Alaska receives graduates who return home prepared to begin their new careers. achieve as much as they can in the undergraduate program and focus on their intellectual development,” she says. A concrete goal “Knowing Willamette is interested in Alaska students and wants to have them on their campus helps students picture their future. It makes the connection between focused study, academic achievement and their future less abstract. It gives them a concrete goal,” she says. Bridgeman notes that Willamette’s 3+3 Program in “People sometimes think the 3+3 Program Alaska is unique because it requires Alaskan students to is just about skipping a year of college. return to their home state to complete a capstone That’s one benefit because it helps to course, participate in an externship or engage in other ease the financial burden, but we want it practical skills activities. The requirement will give them to be a real integration of their law school professional development training in the market and education and their undergraduate create good placement opportunities for students who education so they can see the benefits of are familiar with Alaskan employers. combining real-world experience with a first-class education,” Bridgeman says. “We take seriously our role, both historically and currently, in educating Alaskans, and we’re really excited about That goal strikes a chord for Debora this program,” Bridgeman says. Periman JD’85, another Willamette law grad, who is a professor at the UAA Hughes says it’s a perfect solution for a university that Justice Center and has helped develop has never had a law school. And, according to her, there the 3+3 Program. “The high standards of is a contingent, including the Alaska Bar Association, the program help motivate students to that believes any available higher education funding (Above) University of Alaska Anchorage Professor Deb Periman JD’85 worked with Willamette to help develop the 3+3 Program. She experiences first-hand the student interest in the new partnership. (Left) The Justice Center at the University of Alaska Anchorage is home to undergraduate students interested in law-related education. Alaska does not have a law school. Spring 2014 | 15