University of Arizona To Offer BA in Law
Think three years is a long time to spend in law school? Try a four-year program… and you don’t even earn your JD!
That’s the proposition at the University of Arizona, which is the first school to offer a Bachelor of Arts in law. The program, which was approved by the American Bar Association in April, is expected to draw 300 students in the fall.
Technically, this is a three-year program. More correctly, it is a “3+3” program, an initiative where students can earn “a bachelor’s in law and a J.D. within six years, rather than the typical seven, by taking 30 graduate law credits during their senior year,” according to the National Law Journal.
So isn’t this just the same as a prelaw or legal studies degree? Not exactly. In the University of Arizona’s program, students will take much of the core 1L curriculum, including, as the National Law Journal reports, “property, contracts, torts, constitutional law, administrative law and criminal procedure” (as well as specialty areas like environmental law). Although the program will taught by full-time law faculty, it won’t rely heavily on the Socratic Method, says Marc Miller, dean of the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law.
The beauty of the program, however, is that it isn’t targeted just to students looking to enter law school. For students in areas like human resources, it can act as a double major to boost their career options, says John Paul Jones III, dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at the university.
“A degree in law can be combined with degrees in fields focusing on the environment, health, technology, social justice, business, science, culture and economic development, to name just a few,” he said. “In addition to adding value to existing degrees, undergraduates interested in the legal professions will be well-served by augmenting their law degrees with study in other fields.”
In other words, the law might no longer be the province of only lawyers. With law school enrollments declining and debt skyrocketing, opening the curriculum up to non-lawyers might just be one antidote. As Dean Miller observes, the law might just prepare these students for bigger challenges as well: “A juris doctor is a highly valuable degree, and there are roles that only lawyers can serve. But training a broader range of students will serve society, open careers in areas of substantial regulation, respond to changes in technology and the forces of globalization, and invite opportunities for the delivery of new and more accessible legal services.”
Source: National Law Journal