LAWRENCE – Students at Wichita State University will have an opportunity to accelerate their legal education and save a year of tuition, thanks to an expansion of the Legal Education Accelerated Degree (LEAD) program at the University of Kansas.
The University of Kansas School of Law launched a new partnership with Wichita State this fall. Wichita State is the third Regents university to partner with KU Law’s LEAD program. KU’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences became the first LEAD partner in fall 2013, with Kansas State University joining in 2016.
LEAD program students earn a bachelor’s degree and a KU Law degree in six years instead of seven. Students spend three years on requirements for the bachelor’s degree from their undergraduate institution and three years on requirements for a KU law degree. They graduate with a bachelor’s degree after their fourth year and already have one year of law school under their belt.
“Expanding this program to a third state university offers one more way to increase access to a legal education to Kansas students,” said Stephen Mazza, dean and professor at KU Law. “Students benefit from a great undergraduate and legal education at less cost and in less time. Beyond that, the profession benefits by increasing access to legal careers.”
The LEAD program is designed to prepare students for law school and a legal career. As undergraduates, LEAD students learn what to expect in law school and have the chance to build relationships with practicing attorneys. More information about program components, admission requirements and the application process for Wichita State undergraduates is available from Wichita State University.
LEAD program enrollment has grown steadily since the program launched, with KU Law welcoming its largest LEAD class – 15 first-year law students – in fall 2020. The 2021 entering class includes 14 LEAD students.
“By expanding our partnership to Wichita State, we are changing how students receive a legal education in Kansas across the board,” said Lumen Mulligan, Earl B. Shurtz Research Professor and director of the LEAD program at KU Law. “We are reducing costs, reducing barriers to the profession and helping to ensure that Kansans in every corner of the state have access to legal services.”
The Kansas Board of Regents approved an expansion of KU Law’s LEAD program in 2015, making the program available to all other state universities. KU entered a memorandum of understanding with Wichita State in 2021 to make the program available to Wichita State students majoring in one of five liberal arts and sciences areas: criminal justice, English, history, philosophy and political science.