New PSU-Washburn Law partnership means law degrees more quickly

A new partnership between Pittsburg State University and Washburn School of Law will have a significant impact on students, the region, and the state, ultimately saving time and money for those who are seeking law degrees. 

Law announcement

“We have inked a partnership that will allow students to complete a bachelor’s degree as well as a law degree in six years total — three years here at Pittsburg State, and three years at Washburn School of Law,” said Chris Childers, director of PSU’s School of History, Philosophy, and Social Sciences, in a press conference Monday in Russ Hall officially announcing the partnership.  

The partnership also means a year less in tuition and fees at PSU, he noted, and students who are accepted into the program are guaranteed a minimum tuition scholarship of $5,000 per year at Washburn School of Law. 

The announcement comes at a time when demand is high and supply is low: Southeast Kansas is considered underserved when it comes to the number of cases on the books and the number of lawyers available.  

“Kansas will benefit and Kansans will benefit,” said Kansas Supreme Court Justice Marla Luckert. “We have a critical shortage of attorneys...especially in rural Kansas."  

Southeast Kansas has only one quarter of the number of attorneys needed to meet demand, she noted. Getting students who are seeking law degrees educated more efficiently will help. 

“One of the things that Washburn University SOL takes very seriously is our commitment to the state of Kansas,” said Washburn Law School Dean Jeffrey Jackson. “We produce most of the lawyers in the state and we feel it important to bring good lawyers to areas that may be underserved." 

“We will be able to get them where they want to go cheaper, faster, and hopefully we can convince some of them that where they want to go is back here, to Southeast Kansas.” 

Washburn Associate Dean Shawn Leisinger said students in the program also will be able to go into communities in their third year of law school for externships with law firms, serving communities and gaining valuable real-world experience. 

Kansas Bar Association President Nancy Morales Gonzalez, Chief Judge Lori Bolton Fleming of the 11th Judicial District, and several local attorneys also were in attendance to endorse the partnership. 

“I never thought I’d live long enough to see this,” said Fred Spigarelli, a local attorney for 52 years who is a graduate of both PSU and Washburn School of Law. “This is a big win for everyone — we need more attorneys.”  

Childers credited PSU pre-law coordinator and professor Darren Botello-Samson with laying important groundwork and developing curriculum that made the partnership possible, and Steve Angermayer, an attorney and adjunct instructor at PSU, for his help in garnering support. 

“This is certainly a fantastic opportunity,” said PSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Howard Smith, who noted that it aligned with several pillars of the university and the Board of Regents. “This is a great win for Kansas.” 

The program will begin in August 2023. 

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PSU / Washburn 3+3