After two days of Orientation and a day to get settled in Spokane, the first class of Accelerated J.D. students begins classes at Gonzaga University School of Law today, June 6th. While the cohort of 24 students is academically strong, they also bring a wealth of professional and personal experience to the intensely demanding new 24 month program.
A Diverse Group of Students
“These students represent such a wide diversity of life experience,” said Dr. Susan Lee, Director of Admissions. “Each one of them has shown themselves to be extraordinarily well-qualified for this intense new program.”
The class has students from 12 different states, and one international student. 11 of the students were Washington residents before beginning classes, and they represent 20 different undergraduate institutions. Students range in age from 21 to 48, with an average age of 30. 17 percent of the class self-identifies as a member of an underrepresented minority, and 42 percent of the class is female.
Academically, these students are on-par with the incoming class of the Fall of 2013, posting a median LSAT score of 154 and a median GPA of 3.27. Many of the students come to Gonzaga Law with significant personal and work experience, including legal assistants, crisis managers, issues advocates, small business owners, and community leaders.
A New Solution for Legal Education
These students are the first students to enter the new Accelerated J.D. program at Gonzaga Law, the first such program created in the Northwest and one of the few in the country. As Jane Korn, Dean of Gonzaga Law, outlined in her October 2013 article in the Seattle Times, this program is structured to provide both the doctrinal and practical education that is necessary for success after law school. Accelerated students will be required to fully participate in Gonzaga’s groundbreaking 4-term legal research and writing program, pro bono service requirements, and an expanded experiential learning curriculum.
“Gonzaga Law has a 101-year long history of embracing innovation,” explained Sandra Simpson, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. “We are proud of this class of students for showing an extraordinary commitment to pursuing justice and finding solutions with us in this new program.”
Gonzaga’s Accelerated J.D. was created in response to the very real challenges of legal education. While the American Bar Association has drafted reports and recommendations on the possible changes to law schools, official adjustments to the accreditation requirements could be years away. Rather than waiting for these changes, Gonzaga has chosen to model innovation within existing ABA accreditation standards.