Society / Justice and Law

Filling a Need

Written by Katherine Hedland Hansen, School of Law

January 12, 2015

students lounging on the grass to the side of Sullivan Law School

With ABA approval secured, the School of Law is preparing to open a satellite campus in Anchorage.

Third-year law students will study and work in Anchorage in fall 2015, now that the American Bar Association has approved Seattle University School of Law's satellite campus there.

The ABA Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar approved the law school's proposal last month. The satellite campus will be located at Alaska Pacific University, which has partnered with the law school to make legal education in Alaska a reality.

The approval paves the way for the law school to begin accepting applications from students at Seattle University and other accredited law schools who want to spend their third year in Alaska, the only state without its own law school.

 "We are eager to bring legal education to Alaska through this program we have worked so long to create," Dean Annette Clark, '89, said. "The satellite campus fills a need for Alaskan students and the Alaska legal community. We are grateful for the tremendous support from so many in Anchorage and throughout the state."

Clark and SU President Stephen Sundborg, S.J., will travel to Alaska next week for a celebratory reception including Alaska Pacific University's president, Program Director Stephanie Nichols and other representatives from the law school, the legal, and alumni community.

The initiative allows Alaskan students to spend their summers and entire third year in their home state after two years in Seattle.

The Alaska Court System, the Alaska Bar Association, and individual lawyers in Alaska have strongly supported the endeavor. The Court System has granted the law school use of its courtrooms and access to its law library.  

The all-elective third-year curriculum will be focused on Alaska law, and students will have externship opportunities in a variety of legal settings. Professor Christian Halliburton will be the first SU law faculty member to teach in the program, which will also rely on the expertise of Alaska practitioners as adjunct faculty. 

Nichols, a 2006 graduate of Seattle University School of Law who grew up in Fairbanks, has overseen the development of the satellite campus and teaches several Alaska-related law courses.   

"I am thrilled to be a part of something of such great historical significance in my home state," Nichols said. "It is a privilege to be working in Alaska alongside my fellow Alaskans and to be creating opportunities for the people and state of Alaska."  

The satellite campus further solidifies the law school's strong bond with Alaska. The School of Law has many outreach programs with the state, including the longstanding Alaska summer program, in which law students take a course and gain practical experience though a variety of summer placements in Anchorage.  

Seattle University School of Law is one of the most diverse law schools in the country with 35 percent of this year's entering class being students of color. The law school offers one full tuition three-year scholarship to an Alaska Native or Native American student.  

The School of Law also offers scholarships to Alaskans who attend law school through an endowment made possible by George and Mary Sundborg, the late parents of Father Sundborg. George was one of the drafters of the Alaska State Constitution and helped pave the way for statehood.