Spokane Journal of Business

EWU, Gonzaga collaborate on law degree path

Joint program will shave year off legal education

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Eastern Washington University and Gonzaga University have collaborated to offer new opportunities to Eastern students looking to pursue a career in law.

A memorandum of understanding, signed by EWU Provost Scott Gordon and Gonzaga School of Law dean and professor Jacob Rooksby, will establish a committee comprised of representatives from each school who will work together to explore potential legal education programs to increase EWU student access to Gonzaga law programs and services.

Gordon says the collaboration came about because EWU has a number of students who go on to attend Gonzaga’s law school, and the two universities came together as a way to formalize the partnership and to open more doors to students.

Kevin Carr, spokesman for the Gonzaga School of Law, says, “We have such a healthy relationship already, it made sense to strengthen it. We get great candidates, great students from Eastern, so it was a no-brainer to invest in that relationship.”

Gordon also asserts EWU students who go to Gonzaga Law will often stay and practice law in the Spokane area.

The committee members from EWU are Jim Headley, professor of political sciences, Vernon Loke, associate dean of the College of Social Sciences, and Jonathan Anderson, dean of the College of Social Sciences. For Gonzaga, they are Kim Peterson, associate dean of academic affairs, and law professor Jason Gilmer.

The committee also is working on a “3+3 articulation agreement” that would allow Eastern students to earn a bachelor’s degree and a Gonzaga law degree in six years instead of the traditional seven years. 

The idea is for EWU students to complete their bachelor’s degrees, except for electives, in three years and attend Gonzaga Law in what would be their senior year. 

Ideally, the classes taken during the first year of law school would satisfy the required electives for the Eastern undergraduate degree.

To earn a pre-law political science bachelor’s degree from Eastern, students must complete 52 credits of introductory and disciplinary core courses and 30 credits of elective courses. The articulation agreement will be available by fall 2020, Gordon says.

For the upcoming fall, the universities are working on developing a research collaboration program between faculty at the two universities, a joint speaker series, and a scholar exchange, in which faculty will be shared between universities to allow for more education opportunities, he says.

The committee also will explore the establishment of a joint juris doctor with the Master of Public Health and the Master of Public Administration programs, as well as speaker and internship opportunities, and the potential collaboration between Gonzaga Law and the planned EWU Center for Social Innovation.

The center will be located in the Catalyst building, which currently is under construction on the south edge of the University District and is expected to be completed in 2020. 

It will focus on social justice and civil and human rights, especially in Eastern Washington, Gordon says.

EWU currently offers a dual degree program in collaboration with GU Law School that allows students to earn a juris doctor from Gonzaga and a Master’s in Social Work from EWU in four years, following undergraduate work.

Natasha Nellis
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Reporter Natasha Nellis joined the Journal in May 2018 and covers real estate and construction. Natasha is an avid reader and loves taking photos, traveling, and learning new languages.

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