By AMANDA HOWAR
The University of Mary Washington has a new pathway for students interested in law. Teaming up with George Mason University, starting in the fall semester of 2017, UMW has created an accelerated pathway into the Antonin Scalia Law School called “The 3+3 Accelerated Program” for UMW students. It was created by Richard Finkelstein, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Henry Butler, dean and professor of law at the Antonin Scalia Law School.
“Law is a good profession for Liberal Arts graduates because law schools and law firms are looking for broadly trained people with good communication skills and strong critical thinking,” Finkelstein said.
The pathway into the law school is a program for all students of any major where they would complete three years at UMW and then three years at GMU to obtain their bachelor’s degree and law degree. This is an advantage to students because instead of the traditional seven years it takes to complete a law degree, everything would be completed in six years.
To start the process of being considered for this accelerated program, a student has to complete a Program Participation Form early on in their college career at UMW which can be found on GMU’s website. Students have to apply to GMU’s Antonin Scalia Law School by January 1t of their third year at UMW. By then the Law School Admission Test must have already been completed by December of their third undergraduate year. To be considered for admission into the law school a student must have a 3.25 GPA or higher, which does not guarantee admission.
“The program helps students because it is created with a focus on acceleration and cost-friendliness. For students coming out of college, most of the time with student loan debt, the price of law school can come off [as] intimidating,” said sophomore political science major Theodosius Zotos.
To pursue this accelerated law degree program, a student would have to be approved in their freshman or sophomore years by an advisor. A lot of students have had positive thoughts about this new partnership for the accelerated law program.
“I feel like this definitely would benefit those students who wanted to save money and time in getting their law degree,” said sophomore American studies major Adeline Comerford.
A student’s scholarship and FAFSA at UMW will not continue on at GMU since the student will be considered a GMU law student. They would have to work with the law school’s financial aid office.
During the student’s three years at UMW, they would have to complete their major but the student would not get their undergraduate degree until after the first year in the law program in order to obtain all the elective credits needed for the undergraduate degree. During the first year at GMU’s Antonin Scalia Law School, classes taken would count towards the elective credits for the UMW degree and the law degree.
If somehow, a student does not complete the first year at GMU whether it is from withdrawing or failing then the student can return to UMW without having to reapply to finish their undergraduate degree.
This program is for students that are focused, due to the extra course load that comes with completing a major in three years. UMW has many ways to help a student understand the process and steps to participate in this accelerated program. The first is the student’s advisor but also UMW will offer affinity groups, which are groups of UMW alumni who are in the same career.
“UMW will make use of affinity groups of lawyers who are UMW graduates to speak to pre-Law students and help with advisement,” Finkelstein said.
The accelerated path can be an immense benefit for students thinking about becoming a lawyer. This program will save time and money for any student who is on the path to a law degree. Cutting out a whole year of school will get students who are motivated out into the career world sooner.