Excellence in public legal education has been a University of Idaho strength for many years. A survey of Idaho law, industry and public service leaders would find no shortage of talented professionals who chose the school’s College of Law for an affordable, high-quality education that prepared them for success. This month U of I took another step toward making that outstanding career training more accessible for students from Idaho and beyond as the State Board of Education approved a first-year curriculum in Boise.
Our College of Law offers a fully integrated, dual-location juris doctorate education at Moscow and in Boise. Students can choose the emphasis that reflects their interests and career goals. In the legal, civic and economic center of Idaho, Boise affords an abundance of experiential opportunities for Idaho students, resulting in deep impact for our state. Numerous clinics give students the chance to help community members in tax law, small-business law, economic development and more. Externships provide students real-world experience and offer organizations needed skills and expertise. Our collegewide commitment to service — recognized in January on National Jurist magazine’s public service honor roll — will be strengthened by this first-year program enhancement.
Law students emerge from our program ready to succeed. Idaho residents receive an education dramatically lower in cost than private school options in Idaho, and also a bargain compared to attending regional public law schools as out-of-state students. That affordability means that law students graduate with low debt and are able to plan their careers with an eye toward work that is meaningful to them. Job placement rates are among the highest in the Northwest and the top 30 of all law schools nationwide, alongside Ivy League institutions and other highly regarded schools. It is no wonder that PreLaw magazine named U of I the No. 8 Best Value in the nation in fall 2016.
This first-year curriculum reflects a gradual, well-considered expansion of program offerings for our College of Law. That presence evolved over two decades to include second- and third-year options. In 2015 the College of Law moved to the renovated Idaho Law and Justice Learning Center, in the former Ada County Courthouse across the street from the Capitol. First-year students in Boise will benefit from the chance to study at this unique location.
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We thank the State Board of Education for approving this enhancement (still pending a final American Bar Association decision in March) to our state’s public law school. It is achieved with little added cost to the state of Idaho, but at great benefit to our students. A first-year option in Boise rounds out a robust set of options for Idaho students interested in a career in law, or in any number of careers for which a juris doctorate is excellent preparation.
A U of I law degree has always meant that graduates can punch their ticket to nearly anywhere. A first-year program in Boise means that now they have one more place to start.
Chuck Staben is president of the University of Idaho. Mark L. Adams is dean of the U of I College of Law.