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Early law program nets praise, critique

BY GRETA MEYLE | DECEMBER 20, 2013 5:00 AM

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University of Iowa officials in the College of Law are excited about the potential of a new early admittance program, but some individuals are hesitant about younger students working at such a professional level.

This program, “3+3” is being offered at the UI, Iowa State University, and University of Dubuque. Law school Senior Associate Dean Eric Andersen said officials are excited for to offer this opportunity to younger students.

“We are enthusiastic about this program and look forward to it as a way to benefit students in Iowa who want to pursue a law degree for less money and less time,” Andersen said.

Political science Associate Professor Tim Hagle said he believes the implementation of the program is due to a decrease in the number of applications to law schools nationwide, noting that applications to the UI law school are roughly half of what they were three years ago.

“It’s one of these things where it seems like the law school is trying to increase the attractiveness of law school — the expense and the job market for law-school graduates is not as good as it once was,” Hagle said. “Most graduates would work up to 80 hours a week but would be paid a lot … but those high paying jobs aren’t around as much anymore, so students have more debt.”

While Hagle agreed the new program would save students time to degree and money, he expressed concerns, saying students may lack the analytical skills and background knowledge to take advanced courses so early.

“These days, law schools have encouraged students to take time off to get a job, get maturity as an intern, or do public services, or work in politics before attending graduate school,” Hagle said. “It really hurts those opportunities [which could have added] that experience and maturity, and that kind of runs counter to what law schools generally have been advising.”

Second-year UI law student Matt Enriquez said though he doesn’t believe a massive number of students would be capable of attaining graduate status as a senior through this program, but he noted that if a few students can take advantage of early admittance, it would be a success.

“I think the ‘3 + 3’ program is a phenomenal opportunity for a particular type of undergraduate student, but I don’t think it’s a program that’s built for everyone,” Enriquez said. “For a lot of undergraduates, this might seem daunting to plan ahead for, but I think for a lot of students it’s going to be exciting … if I would’ve been a sophomore and knew that I wanted to go [to law school], this opportunity would’ve been incredible.”

Andersen said the age of students should not be a factor in consideration, and agreed the program is targeted to students who meet certain qualifications.

“We just want to have good students who can study law, and this is a way to make it easier for them,” Andersen said. “We are not after younger students; their age is irrelevant to us, it’s their qualifications and their desire to study that matter.”

Andersen noted the program will probably take three years to garner significant numbers, because more students will be able to prepare through the advising of various departments.


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