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Launch of JD for Life program encourages lifelong learning

by Jessica Rotter,

Willamette Law classroom

Education doesn’t stop at graduation and Willamette Law is dedicated to instilling a passion for lifelong learning in every student. In that spirit, the law school is proud to launch a one-of-a-kind JD for Life program aimed at providing opportunities for education and growth well beyond the three years of law school. The program permits alumni to enroll in courses through two different options: auditing courses (with or without support for CLE credit) or taking courses for academic credit. Both options enable individuals with a JD to benefit from the expertise of the Willamette Law faculty while exploring new areas of law, learning about new changes in the legal profession, bolstering a resume for a career change, or earning credits for a graduate program or other curricular requirement. 

The law school has long held at its core the desire to create opportunities for mentorship and support, all aimed at the desire to educate practice-ready lawyers and leaders. Inspired by this, current student and Student Bar Association President Mohamad Shaer JD’24 considered how the school could carry on this support even after graduation. With that, he proposed the concept of JD for Life with the hope that it offers alumni the opportunity to change and grow over the course of their career. 

The inspiration behind JD for Life, for example, is that if you are five years into your career doing Taxation and want to make a change to Family Law, you could come back to the law school, take a course, and freshen up on a subject to be confident in your next career move. Then, during an interview, you could speak about how you took the initiative, refreshed yourself using this program, and have a good starting place in whatever field you apply for,” he says. 

The option to audit courses (with or without support for CLE credit) at the law school is currently available to only alumni. By involving alumni, JD for Life aspires to be a natural extension of the community support students find at Willamette Law; students and alumni will have the opportunity to learn from one another and benefit from one another’s shared knowledge and expertise. 

The option to take courses for academic credit after earning a JD is open to both Willamette Law alumni and graduates from other law schools. Expanding this facet of the program will enable enrollees to take courses that may help with their applications to other graduate programs or help to fulfill other curricular requirements. This unique approach to post-law school education will enable all law school graduates to feel confident that they are being set up for success regardless of their academic pursuits. 

Shaer hopes that students considering law school see how supportive Willamette Law is and factor that into their decision making for potential law school programs. “JD for Life sets Willamette Law ahead of other programs because students can always come back, learn and evolve after they have left the law school. Willamette Law always has your back,” he shares. 

With the launch of this new program, Willamette Law Dean Brian Gallini sees it as another way that the law school continues to think innovatively about legal education. “Innovation is in our DNA and JD for Life is another example of how our College seeks to push boundaries and expand access to a legal education. I am grateful to Mohamad for his thoughtful leadership in stewarding this initiative,” Gallini says.

Willamette Law’s work in educating lawyers and leaders is a lifelong commitment, one that benefits alumni, students, and the greater community. The JD for Life program encourages alumni and law school graduates more broadly to think about how they can continue to make sure they are always brushing up on the knowledge necessary to be successful practice-ready lawyers in order to best serve their communities. 

Information about enrollment will be disseminated as it becomes available. Look for an announcement on the College of Law’s social media pages clarifying how graduates can seek to enroll in qualifying courses. 

About Willamette University College of Law

Willamette University College of Law was the first law school to open in the Pacific Northwest. Building on deep historic roots, we focus with pride on educating the next generation of problem-solving lawyers and leaders. Our location in Salem, Oregon, directly across the street from the Oregon State Capitol and Supreme Court, cannot be matched in the region. Our thought-leading scholars advance and promote our shared responsibility to make a difference in society, placing justice, fairness, and equality at the heart of everything we do.

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