Two years ago, Willamette University College of Law launched a series of Direct Enrollment programs designed primarily to increase transparency for prospective students in the law school admissions process. This effort has grown to a total of six partners, including Willamette University College of Arts & Sciences.
The Willamette-specific program, known on campus and in the surrounding area as “Law School Bound,” is an initiative for qualified College of Arts and Sciences students to have direct access to both robust pre-law advising and legal education. Launched in January 2021, the program allows undergraduate students to be admitted to law school tied at the time of their matriculation at the undergraduate school. Once accepted, students can proceed to either the 3+3 Direct Enrollment Program or the 4+3 Program, available to both undergraduates and alumni.
Willamette’s 3+3 program allows students to complete their education faster by allowing them to spend three years in the College of Arts & Sciences and three years in the College of Law. Accepted students enter the Faculty of Law before completing their undergraduate studies. After completing their first year of law school, their credits can be used to complete their degree. Meanwhile, the 4+3 Direct Admission Program allows Willamette undergraduate students direct admission to law school based on academic credentials. This program includes four years of undergraduate study and three years of law school. Students admitted to the 4+3 program are guaranteed a permanent scholarship.
Since the launch of Bound Law School, four students have successfully graduated from law school through the program. Fourteen students are currently enrolled in the program, and four students will enroll in this academic year 2022-2023. Discussing the students currently enrolled, Assistant Director of Admissions Jessica Kliewer commented that the individuals at Bound Law School are “excellent and generally more prepared for the rigors of a Willamette legal education.”
Law school readiness for those enrolled in Law School Bound undoubtedly stems from the collaborative and mentoring approach that underpins the program. In fact, students enrolled in Bound Law School have access to LSAT and GRE practice exams, a lending library, and numerous open houses and events throughout the program. In addition, the preparation of students for the College of Law is a very collaborative effort between the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Law and embodies the culture of the community at Willamette.
Amy Nelson, a current participant in the 3+3 direct-admission program and JD/MBA dual degree program, said she “initially decided to attend Willamette mainly because of the 3+3 program.” Nelson will graduate in 2025 with a BA, JD and MBA. One of the highlights of her experience in the program was that she was “able to manage her time effectively and maintain the energy and love of learning that can be lost in full-length programs.” Nelson hopes her education will allow her to become a member of the in-house legal team of a large firm, she said. Reflecting on her experience, Nelson said that “Law School Bound provided me with the most priceless asset: time.”
Henry Harder is a current member of the 3+3 program and is also pursuing a JD/MBA. Harder will graduate from law school in 2023 and currently serves in the US Army Solicitor General’s Corps. If he receives this commission, he would be a lawyer and also an officer in the United States Army. Harder expressed that he had been interested in the legal profession in general for most of his life. Reflecting on his experience, he said, “Law school exposed me to so many wonderful opportunities and challenged me both personally and academically. I had excellent work experience in civil litigation at a firm in Salem and improved my leadership and public speaking skills by participating in Moot Court.” Looking back on his experience, Harder reflected, “Bound Law School gave me a jump start on my professional career” and that “I would not have had the same opportunities without my years of education at Willamette University.”
As for the future of the Law School Bound program, Kliewer said she hopes to “continue to create accessible pathways into law school” and allow students to “get the opportunity to explore different types of law through mock classes and in-class experience.” The Law School Bound program fits into a larger effort to increase collaboration between the College of Law and the College of Arts and Sciences, Kliewer said, with an emphasis on making sure students feel connected early and have the support they need to become successful students and lawyers.
For more information about the law school program, contact the law school admissions team.