Simpson College and Drake Law create new partnership for students

by Rachel Peterson

A unique opportunity is now available to Simpson students interested in going to law school.

The 3+3 Pathway in Law is a partnership with Drake University designed to benefit students financially and academically by allowing them to earn their law degree in six years instead of seven. Students will complete their undergraduate degree in three years at Simpson and then apply to Drake law school.

President Jay Simmons said, “It was motivated by a desire to help reduce the cost of college education and help our students who are interested in law go to law school who may otherwise not.”

He thinks the program is very attractive to perspective students.

“We think it gives us a bit of a competitive advantage in terms of offering services and options to our students. So when recruiting new students to the college, it’s a feature we can market and demonstrate that there is an option that is exclusive to Simpson College,” he said.

The contract between the two schools includes a five-year exclusivity clause, according to accounting professor Mark Juffernbruch. Drake can partner with other Regent schools, though.

Juffernbruch said, “This exclusivity clause can be extended for up to five additional one-year terms if there is sufficient enrollment of Simpson students in the Pathway.”

Academic dean, Steve Griffith, encourages students with any major to consider the program.

“We know that many students who are interested in political science or other majors are interested in law school,” he said.

Griffith pointed out how involvement in the pathway does not mean a student is committed to Drake Law School. Students can apply to other schools after completing their undergraduate degree at Simpson.

In addition to cutting off a year of school, Drake will be offering accepted students a scholarship each year of $5000, Griffith said.

Courtney Yearous, a senior sociology major, considered going to law school after graduating from Simpson.

“As I looked more into law school I realized they’re more expensive,” she said. “After talking to a few attorneys they told me I would be paying off my law school debt for a long time. I’m already paying my loans for Simpson, and I can’t imagine adding to that.”

Yearous said she would have taken advantage of this program during her first years at Simpson.

Simmons said this is not the first time Drake and Simpson have entered into a partnership. Nearly 140 years ago, Drake Law School was associated with Simpson. Due to the distance between the two campuses, the schools decided to part ways.

The conversation about a partnership started this summer.

Juffernbruch said, “Drake came to Simpson about a possible partnership.  Over the years we have had many Simpson graduates attend Drake Law School who have been very successful while at the Law School and then in their legal careers.”

Negotiation about the partnership lasted about 90 days, said Simmons. The new Pathway was announced to students two weeks ago. Juffernbruch said he has already had inquiries from current and perspective students about it.

To be a part of the program, students must be in good academic standing. They will still go through the typical law school admission process, including taking the LSAT. This will take place during the third year of students’ undergraduate studies instead of the fourth.

Simmons hopes this partnership will lead to other new opportunities for students.

“We’re always willing to be looking for opportunities of this sort as a means of better serving Simpson College students and giving them more options,” he said.

Juffernbruch, Dean Griffith and President Simmons recognize the uncertainty in applying and choosing a law school. Simmons thinks the 3+3 Pathway in Law will relieve some of this.

Simmons said, “They know that Drake is a good option and see a very straightforward path from their first year at Simpson College to the end of their legal studies.”