Topeka, Kan. - Officials from Washburn University and Fort Hays State University (FHSU) signed a new partnership into effect on Friday, June 30. The signed memorandum of understanding for the Law Early Admission Program (LEAP) will allow academically talented and highly motivated undergraduate students at FHSU to matriculate to the Washburn University School of Law after three or three and a half years.
The LEAP program was developed to reduce students’ total legal education costs, allow them to enter the job market earlier, and give them the opportunity to develop relationships with Washburn University law professors while they are still enrolled in FHSU’s undergraduate programs. The reduced time to completion will help expand opportunities for students looking to study abroad or participate in summer or semester-long internships and other clinical practicums.
This partnership will enhance Washburn Law's Rural Law program, which seeks to bring qualified attorneys to rural areas in need of them. The program offers an immersive externship experience in one of the 26 counties that the Dane G. Hansen Foundation serves in northwest Kansas. Hays is in the middle of that geographical area.
Thomas J. Romig, former Washburn University School of Law dean, and Dr. Jerry Farley, Washburn University president, signed the agreement along with Dr. Tisa Mason, FHSU president, and Dr. Jeff Briggs, FHSU interim provost.
“Over the years, Washburn Law has had many outstanding Fort Hays State students,” said Romig. “This program will be great for both Fort Hays State and Washburn University School of Law, but the real winners in this program will be the outstanding Fort Hays State students who will have the opportunity to accelerate their undergraduate studies in order to begin legal studies with the goal of having successful careers as lawyers.”
Mason said Fort Hays State and Washburn share a commitment to the success of students. “With this agreement, we expand the opportunities for success for our students who dream of a career in the law,” she said. “For them, the pathway to a degree in law from Washburn is much easier to navigate, and the cost will be substantially reduced.”
“Fort Hays State has had a long tradition of finding ways to make education available to students all across Kansas," said Farley. “There is a coming critical shortage of attorneys in small and rural towns of Kansas. Many students can take advantage of this relationship and have a jump start as they pursue becoming an attorney. We are proud to have such a wonderful partnership with Fort Hays State University.”