(Image above: UW Tacoma Assistant Professor Sarah Hampson is co-director of the new Legal Pathways Initiative.)
Last spring Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed a $1.2 billion supplemental budget into law. Included in the spending package was $200,000 for UW Tacoma to build a pre-law pipeline. Assistant Professors Sarah Hampson and Elizabeth Bruch were named co-interim directors of the Legal Pathways Initiative. “Our role this year is to create and consolidate what’s already happening on campus and to build that out,” said Hampson.
The overarching goal of Legal Pathways is to help students with an interest in the law explore the possibilities. “We have students that want to go to law school or who want to pursue law related careers but they’re unsure of how to get started,” said Hampson.
“Thanks to community and campus advocacy, UW Tacoma students and faculty will now benefit from the new Legal Pathways Initiative.”
A major component of the initiative is simply connecting students to information. Hampson and Bruch hope to address this issue through the creation of a website that has just launched. “We needed a place where people could see everything that’s happening on campus and learn about the resources that are available,” said Bruch. The website includes everything from a list of law-related majors and courses at UW Tacoma to details about LSAT prep courses and pre-law advising. “So much of what we’re doing right now is infrastructure building,” said Bruch.
Part of the infrastructure is transforming UW Tacoma into a place where critical conversations about the law take place. “We want campus to be a hub, not just for students and faculty but for the greater Tacoma community,” said Hampson. The university has long hosted law-related events on campus but Hampson and Bruch see an opportunity. “A lot of the conversations we’re having right now center on how to get more people engaged.” This effort is already underway. The Legal Pathways Initiative is co-sponsoring the Pierce County Judicial Forum with the League of Women Voters of Tacoma-Pierce County on Tuesday, October 16 in William Philip Hall. On Monday, October 22, Mario L. Barnes, the Toni Rembe Dean of the University of Washington School of Law will come to UW Tacoma. “He’s going to speak with students, administrators and faculty about helping to build a connection between our campus and the law school in Seattle,” said Hampson.
Another aspect of the initiative includes connecting the campus community. “Our faculty are doing a lot of really interesting research that touches on different areas of the law,” said Hampson. “We want to get people talking and see how their research interests overlap.”
The initiative also extends to the classroom. “We have three new courses about community engaged learning around the law,” said Hampson. The first of the new courses – Street Law – will be offered in the spring of 2019.
Hampson and Bruch have been helping students find a legal pathway ever since they came to campus in 2014. “I feel like we had our finger on the pulse of what was already happening,” said Bruch. The pair have spent countless hours assisting students, whether that’s talking about what it means to take the LSAT or helping them find internships. “This is exciting because the legislature has invested in our university, in our students,” said Hampson. “We hit the ground running and aim to build a solid foundation.”
John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or firstname.lastname@example.org