October 2013 Bar Bulletin
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October 2013 Bar Bulletin

SU Alaska J.D. Satellite Program Moves Ahead

By Katherine Hedland Hansen


Alaskan students are a step closer to being able to earn law degrees from Seattle University School of Law without spending three years outside their home state, thanks to unanimous approval by the law school faculty.

The faculty voted to develop a satellite campus that would allow students from Alaska to spend their summers and their third year of law school at home. The program must receive approval from the American Bar Association, which is expected to take a year. It's hoped that the law school could begin accepting applications for the program soon thereafter.

The law school has many outreach programs with Alaska, the only state without a law school. The successful Study Law in Alaska Program provides students from Seattle and other law schools the opportunity to take a summer course on Alaska Native law and environmental law, and gain practical experience through a variety of summer placements throughout Anchorage, where the current program is based. This summer program is the perfect platform upon which to expand a law program in Alaska.

Stephanie Nichols, a 2006 SU law graduate who grew up in Fairbanks, directs the Study Law in Alaska Program, teaches several Alaska-related law courses and oversees the development of the Alaska J.D. Program.

"This program will be a great way for Alaskan students to benefit from our excellent legal education and keep them close to home," she said.

The law school also is involved with the Color of Justice Program, which brings diverse students from across Alaska together for workshops and activities designed to encourage them to consider legal and judicial careers.

George Sundborg, father of SU President Steve Sundborg, helped pave the way for Alaska statehood. He and his wife, Mary, established an endowment that provides scholarships to Alaskan students to attend SU law school.

Many Alaskans have earned their legal degrees at SU, including Gov. Sean Parnell and U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline. Logan Bohman, a 2010 graduate, clerks for Judge Beistline, and David Wilkinson, a 2012 graduate, is a clerk for Alaska Supreme Court Justice Daniel Winfree. Current Alaskan students include Charisse Arce, a second-year student from Iliamna, who is one of 12 students in the country selected for a Udall Foundation Native American Congressional Internship.


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