SU School of Law and UW Tacoma Partner for ‘Hybrid Hub’

At an event on March 11 to celebrate this new Hybrid Hub SU President Eduardo Peñalver (with Law Dean Anthony Varona on the screen) stands with UW Tacoma Chancellor Sheila Edwards Lange and UW Tacoma Assistant Chancellor for Community Engagement Ali Modarres.

Collaboration to launch South Sound hub will increase access for students and the community alike.

The University of Washington Tacoma and Seattle University School of Law have forged a new and innovative partnership with the goal to increase access to legal education and legal services for residents of Tacoma and the South Sound region, including those from underrepresented populations.

The South Sound Hybrid Hub initiative will provide significant in-person and virtual programming, counseling, networking, employment and experiential learning opportunities and resources for UW Tacoma undergraduates and students in SU Law’s pathbreaking Flex JD hybrid-online degree program.

School of Law Dean Anthony E. Varona conceived of the Hybrid Hubs concept after conducting a listening and learning tour with stakeholders throughout Washington and Alaska. Outside of Seattle and Spokane, both states have many “legal deserts” where there is no law school, great demand for legal education and a shortage of lawyers to provide essential legal services.

SU Law launched the hybrid-online Flex JD program in 2021 to make it possible for aspiring lawyers who live in areas without convenient access to a law school. Dean Varona envisioned the successful Flex JD program as an opportunity to build out a meaningful hybrid presence in regions like the South Sound.

“The time is right to respond to the urgent need for a law school presence in the South Sound with a 21st Century, post-COVID hybrid online solution,” Varona says. “Hybrid legal education reflects the reality that the practice of law is now and will continue to be hybridized, utilizing online platforms strategically and in a pedagogically sound manner, with important in-person, physical engagement opportunities provided in partnership with key hub-based institutions. We are proud to launch our Hybrid Hubs program in partnership with UW Tacoma, our founding principal Hybrid Hub partner in Tacoma and the inaugural institutional partner across all three regions.”

Currently, one-quarter of all Flex JD students hail from the South Sound region, in part because Tacoma is one of the largest communities in the U.S. without a law school.

Through a hybrid format, students can earn a law degree by completing most coursework online, with just a few in-person, weekend class sessions each year on SU’s campus. The South Sound Hybrid Hub will host Flex JD activities for the benefit of students not only located in the South Sound but also elsewhere.

The School of Law also is rolling out Hybrid Hubs in Anchorage, Alaska, and in the Yakima Valley to improve access to legal education across the Northwest. Each Hybrid Hub will have a founding principal partner institution that will connect with other participating universities in the area to create the greatest impact.

More than five decades ago, the School of Law was founded in Tacoma and spent its first 26 years in the area, with many alumni who reside in the South Sound.

“For a Jesuit institution like Seattle University, the accessibility of the education we provide is of paramount importance to us,” SU President Eduardo Peñalver said at a ceremony celebrating the partnership on March 11. “Now, thanks to this partnership with our friends and colleagues at the University of Washington Tacoma, we are being given the privilege of reconnecting with our roots, coming home and serving the wonderful south Puget Sound legal community.”

Read more about this partnership and the Hybrid Hubs.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024