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Anchorage, Alaska

Anchorage, Alaska

Finally A Frontier: Alaska Gets A Satellite Law School

 

Alaska, known as The Final Frontier, is the only state without a law school. That is, until Seattle University School of Law officially opens its satellite campus, housed at Alaska Pacific University, this fall. Third year students from any American Bar Association-accredited school may now spend their final year in Alaska. The inaugural cohort, who will be starting next week, is made up of six students.

The program is obviously geared towards students who are either from Alaska or want to move to Alaska to practice law. According to National Law Journal reporter Karen Sloan, the satellite campus has been endorsed by both Alaska Supreme Court and Alaska Bar Association.

“We are very interested in increasing the diversity of the Alaska bar and bench,” Alaska Supreme Court Justice Dana Fabe, told Sloan. “Alaskans, and particularly rural Alaskans, have always been forced to relocate for three years to get a law degree. Our view is that if more rural and Alaska Natives can complete one half of their law school education in state, that will be a wonderful step forward in increasing the diversity of the bar, and eventually the bench.”

Seattle University will be the first to open a satellite campus, but a few other schools have been involved in Alaska for a while now. Both the University of Washington School of Law and Willamette University’s College of Law have 3+3 programs with the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Justice Center.

Duke University School of Law uses funding from the Alaska Bar Association to publish the Alaska Law Review. Northeastern University School of Law has had a co-op program with Alaska and claims to have 100 alumni currently working in Alaska, according to Sloan.

The reason Alaska has yet to have a law school is simply the demand has not been enough. According to Alaska Bar Association Executive Director, Deborah O’Regan, results from law school “feasibility” studies over the past 40 years have shown that not enough Alaskans have enough interest to pursue a law degree.

O’Regan told Sloan, traditionally, Alaska’s lawyers have grown up outside of the state, but that’s starting to change. The example she gives are second-generation Alaskans. Many people who moved to Alaska to practice law are beginning to have kids interested in practicing law in their home state.

Source: National Law Journal

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