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In a first-time anywhere program, Washburn University School of Law will let students complete their "Third Year Anywhere."
The off-campus program is like an internship, but allows students to earn academic credit for working 20 hours a week under the supervision of a licensed attorney. They will also complete online courses during the third year that focus on practical legal skills.
To many, legal apprenticeships have been a long time coming because most law graduates don't have a practical clue until they get a law job. Washburn is giving them a chance, and also taking a chance.
The program will be offered to students admitted in the fall 2019 or later. They will have the opportunity to work-study in six areas: corporate, government, higher education, judicial, law firm, or public interest.
"Placing students in the legal market where they intend to practice will position them to join the local bar association, network with lawyers who will become their professional peers, and interview for jobs in that market prior to graduating," said Dean Carla Pratt.
She said it's the first program of its kind. Staci Zaretsky, an editor at Above the Law, said all law schools should be doing an apprenticeship program like Washburn.
The "anywhere" program will also come with some risks and criticisms, of course. Sometimes, that is the price of creative education.
Washburn University learned that lesson years ago when it placed a controversial statue on campus.
Entitled "Holier Than Thou," the statue depicted a Roman Catholic bishop with a contorted expression. The university president said artwork was meant to engage students "intellectually and emotionally."
In O'Connor v. Washburn University, the plaintiffs claimed it violated the First Amendment. A federal appeals court disagreed, although the university did remove the statute in 2004.
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